Burks turns in huge performance in return to action
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FAYETTEVILLE — Treylon Burks wasn’t even at full strength Saturday, but you wouldn’t have known it watching him against Ole Miss.
The star sophomore receiver racked up 183 all-purpose yards in Arkansas’ 33-21 win over Rebels at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, including 137 yards on 11 receptions - both of which were career highs.
The other 46 yards came on four carries, meaning he averaged 12.2 yards per touch. It was particularly impressive considering Burks didn’t even play last week at Auburn and missed most of the Mississippi State game two weeks ago.
In fact, head coach Sam Pittman said his status was up in the air throughout the week of practice and he was only about 80 percent healthy Saturday.
“The thing about Treylon is, I wasn’t for sure he was going to be able to play,” Pittman said. “He obviously couldn’t play last week. I didn’t know if he was going to be able to play on Tuesday, Wednesday. I felt a little bit better about him on Thursday, but we didn’t know if he was going to be able to play.”
It didn’t take long for Burks to make an impact on the game. He caught four passes in the first quarter, with three of them resulting in 5-yard gains. The outlier was a 55-yard catch and run that he took up Arkansas’ sideline.
That set up the first score of the game, as Rakeem Boyd punched it into the end zone a few plays later.
Early in the second quarter, the Razorbacks appeared to dial up a trick play for Burks to throw the ball. He might have had a receiver open, but he opted to tuck the ball after catching it well behind the line of scrimmage and picked up 18 yards on the plate. That set up a chip-shot field goal by A.J. Reed when the offense stalled out inside the 10-yard line.
“He’s a very physical guy (and) he made some big plays out there,” Pittman said. “You could see the rust on him a little bit too, from not being healthy the last couple of weeks, but he’s a competitor.”
The play everyone will remember from the game, though, was Burks’ spectacular one-handed touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone.
Facing a third-and-1 and the 7-yard line, the Razorbacks made the surprising decision to throw the ball instead of trying to move the chains on the ground.
“I wanted the best play - whatever the best play we could score, get the first down, whatever it was,” Pittman said. “Kendal liked the matchup outside with Burks and it worked.”
It was called a touchdown on the field and was confirmed after a replay review clearly showed he got a foot down in the end zone. The catch - which was No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays Saturday night - gave Arkansas a two-score lead with 7:36 remaining in the game.
“The catch, it didn't surprise me,” Burks said. “I do it in practice. It's just something I work on and something I want to get better at."
His 137 receiving yards against the Rebels were the most by an Arkansas player in any game since 2016, when Jared Cornelius had 146 against Alabama.
Despite missing one game entirely and playing only 12 snaps in another, Burks now leads the team in receptions (19) and receiving yards (249). He is also second on the team in touchdown catches (2) after not scoring a single time last season.
Pittman has said since the preseason that they need Burks to have as many touches as possible and he anticipates his touches to only increase as he gets healthier.
That could create problems for the opposing defenses remaining on Arkansas’ schedule.
“I don't think he's reached his full potential yet,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “He's a heck of a player, but at the end of the day, man, he's continually getting better week in and week out. He's works super hard.”
The Razorbacks have an open date next week before returning to action Oct. 31 at Texas A&M. Kickoff of that game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and it’ll be televised on the SEC Network.