Burks continues to impress in camp
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FAYETTEVILLE — A little more than nine months ago, Barry Odom was the head coach at Missouri and putting together a game plan for the final game of 2019.
The Tigers were sitting at 5-6, but even a win over a struggling Arkansas team on Black Friday wouldn’t get them to a bowl thanks to a postseason ban stemming from NCAA violations.
It was still a chance to get to .500, though, and the fourth-year coach knew a major key to his team’s success was not letting Treylon Burks, the Razorbacks’ star freshman, beat them.
Missouri was “ultra on alert” about where Burks lined up every play and managed to limit him to just one reception for six yards, leading to a 24-14 victory.
The next day, Odom was fired and a few weeks later, he joined Sam Pittman’s staff as Arkansas’ new defensive coordinator. That has given him an opportunity to get an up-close view of the Razorbacks and the Warren, Ark., product has stood out the most during his time in Fayetteville so far.
“Now being around him and watching him compete, I’ve got even more respect for him because, No. 1, he is as talented as a guy I’ve gone against,” Odom said. “He also works so hard, extremely hard every day. You’re going to get his best every single day and my respect factor has…
“I knew he was a good player last year game planning, but now seeing him live and up close and in person every day, I’ve got a lot of respect for the kid.”
It’s far from the first praise in camp for Burks, who seems to be on the verge of a breakout season.
In the Zoom videoconference before Odom on Wednesday, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles told reporters that Burks is an inside receiver, but he’ll move all over the field and play multiple spots.
That jibes with what Pittman said after last week’s scrimmage, during which Burks caught an early touchdown pass.
“He’s a really good player, so it’s been much topic of conversation about getting the ball to the guy,” Pittman said. “I think he can run the football as well as catch it.
“He’s so dynamic with the ball in his hands we have to [get it to him]. There can’t be a game where we go, ‘Well, we got it to him two or three times.’ That just can’t happen. So we’ve got to have a plan for him. He’s been that dynamic.”
Burks is coming off a season in which he caught 29 passes for 475 yards - marks that rank fourth and third, respectively, among true freshmen in UA history. He also rushed for 35 yards and was utilized as a wildcat quarterback.
On special teams, he averaged 10.8 yards on punt returns and 22.6 yards on kickoff returns with a handful of explosive returns on both units. Burks ended the season averaging 14.4 yards every time he touched the ball, which led all FBS freshmen.