Brotherly love helped Clay Burton make his decision to join older brother Trey Burton at Florida. In the time since then, Clay transitioned from a defensive end into a tight end, a position the Gators have needed production from since Jordan Reed went to the NFL. Burton made the switch to tight end before ever getting a chance to see the field, due to injuries. He made his début in Florida’s second game of his freshman season against UAB. Although he did not register a catch, that game set the tone of what Burton’s role at UF would be in the next three years. His sophomore season, he played in 12 games, starting six, and caught two balls for 12 yards. The next year, he roped in two more catches, one being a two-point conversion against Georgia, the other a career-long 12 yarder against Florida State. Burton made an appearance in all 12 games, starting nine of them.
The 6-4 248 pound Burton came to Gainesville as a sought after linebacker recruit. He ranked as the 32nd strong-side defensive end prospect, 69th player in Florida, and 454th overall recruit, according to 247 Sports Composite Rankings. Burton originally committed to Notre Dame, but then Florida offered and he couldn’t turn down the possibility to play three more years with his older brother. He committed to Urban Meyer and considered decommitting when he left UF. But Will Muschamp made a strong pitch, and Burton honored his commitment to Florida. Coming from Venice High School, this also made his mom that she wouldn’t have to split time between South Bend and Gainesville. Burton chose UF over Notre Dame, and SEC schools LSU, Mississippi, and Tennessee among other schools. He played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl his senior year before enrolling at Florida in the spring semester.
Burton played linebacker at Venice High and shined. During his junior season, he tallied 80 tackles, including 13 sacks. He was on the Indians District Champion 2009 team in which they were nationally ranked. Burton helped lead them to back-to-back nine win seasons in his junior and senior years.
His role at Florida will likely change with Virginia transfer Jake McGee coming to town. But that doesn’t mean Burton won’t see the field. He’s still the best blocking tight end the Gators have and that will be paramount this season after a dismal offensive line performance last season. This will be his first year at UF without his brother, but he’s looking to follow Trey’s footsteps to the NFL. He’s number 88, which means we’re that much closer to kickoff. You can follow him @ClayBurton88.