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Friday, August 9, 2013

Michael Burton's role is one of few unknowns left with Ron Prince

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Through more than a week of training camp, Michael Burton isn't sure how he'll be used outside of a blocking role in Ron Prince's offense.

Burton said he figures he'll lead more outside zone runs instead of traditional isolation blocks in Prince's zone system.. But other than that, Burton can only anticipate.

"As training camp goes on and we put in more plays, there might be opportunities there," Burton said Wednesday. "Once I can do all my checkdowns, be the safe guy, catch the ball, then coach might be more comfortable expanding my role in certain designs and passes."

Michael Burton could add dimension to a static position.
(Tyler Barto)
Burton caught three passes for 38 yards last season — primarily as a checkdown — before a season-ending ankle injury sidelined him after Week 4. He added 10 catches, including a touchdown in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, in 2011.

Savon Huggins, Rutgers' projected feature back, recorded seven receptions for 19 yards a year ago.

Burton has been impressive as a pass catcher out of the backfield in camp so far. With few touches returning to Rutgers' backfield, he could even threaten for No. 2 carries.

It's near certain he'll be next to quarterback Gary Nova on passing downs as Rutgers' most polished pass protector. Only Joe Martinek from 2009-2010 earned more trust. The result: Martinek as a third-down back despite more explosive options.

"I would love to be the single back," Burton said. "I would have no problem being back there, protecting the quarterback. I know I can do it."

Burton said in June he planned on adding another dimension to his game. He's expressed desire to be involved in more personnel groupings. His 235-pound frame can handle an increased workload.

Rutgers' last full-time fullback, Jack Corcoran, caught five passes in 2009 for 52 yards and a score. That was four offensive coordinators ago.

"When the game's on the line and whatever the personnel or formation, they can say, 'We can keep Burton in because he can catch the football,'" Burton said. "That's really what I'm working toward."

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