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Three Reasons Treylon Burks Leaves Arkansas as the G.O.A.T. of Razorback Receivers

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NCAA Football: Arkansas at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

These days, it’s all about what’s next when it comes to Treylon Burks. Since the Arkansas junior receiver declared for the pros last week, most 2022 NFL Draft analysts seem to feel he’s bound for the first round.

In the days following his announcement, ESPN’s Mel Kiper had him as the No. 24 best prospect, for example, while The Athletic’s Dane Brugler slotted him as the third-best receiver available.

“The Razorbacks deployed Burks as a do-it-all weapon,” enthused the man behind the curtain at SI.com. “He lined up as an H-back, F receiver, and X/Z receiver. Electric with the ball in his hands, he has quick feet and sudden movements that help him separate and find grass after the catch. He also wins with body positioning and outright size as his frame is far too much for opposing corners to handle on 50/50 balls.”

For the most part, fans are cool with Burks sitting out the Outback Bowl, even if his absence does slightly affect the Arkansas Razorbacks bettings & upcoming games.

In the coming months, we’ll have plenty of time to dissect Burks’ NFL future and if the likes of Jadon Haselwood, Warren Thompson and Ketron Jackson can replace his production next season. Now, though, is the time to put a bow on his college career and take stock of what he did.

Treylon Burks has left his mark as “absolutely the best receiver in Arkansas Razorback history,” former Hogs quarterback Quinn Grovey said on the Razorback Daily podcast.

“I think you can confidently say it. I mean, just with his size, his speed, his mindset, what he brings to the table.” Then Grovey and his co-host Matt Zimmerman list a few other contenders for the crown, guys like Jarius Wright, Anthony Lucas, Cobi Hamilton. James Shibest, Derek Russell, Chuck Dicus and Lance Alworth (who wasn’t a true receiver at Arkansas, playing more of a hybrid role along with halfback).

No disrespect to those legends and others, but Treylon Burks is in a class unto himself. Here are three top reasons he is the greatest Razorback receiver of all time:

Individual talent and abilities

Very few Razorback wide receivers, outside of Boo Williams and Greg Childs, combined the kind of size and strength that the 6’3” 225 pound Burks has. Nobody in Burks’ size neighborhood, however, comes close to possessing the same kind of speed.

Those jets, combined with precise route running, Burks got open enough to put his elite ability to good use, leaving future NFL cornerbacks in his vapor trail again and again. And if they happened to close the gap on him, they were often turned away by a massive paw. Burks and Darren McFadden should be considered co-tenets of the Razorback Stiff-arm Hall of Fame.

Oh, and Burks’ massive mitts helped in other ways too. He was one of the most sure-handed receivers in program history.

Statistical production

So, yes, in terms of career receiving yards and touchdowns, Burks trails guys like Jarius Wright, Anthony Lucas and Cobi Hamilton. But it’s short sighted to focus on the career numbers when Burks was head and shoulders above the rest on a per-game basis.

For instance, he is tied with Cobi Hamilton in catches per game (4.6) and trails only Wright and Lucas in yards per catch.

The real eye-opener, however, is looking at the below apples-to-apples comparison of the receivers’ first three seasons:

(See more stats from other all-time Razorback greats like Jarius Wright here in Connor Goodson’s piece)

Burks ranks No. 1 in most categories. His individual accomplishments on a per-season basis speak for themselves.

Plus, almost all great modern players leave after three seasons instead of staying all four years. Derrick Henry, for instance, had only one truly great season for Alabama, but he was so good that many Alabama fans think he is the best running back in that program’s history (just as Kevin Kopps became the best Razorback pitcher ever because of his otherworldly 2021 season).

Or consider Larry Fitzgerald, who played only two seasons at Pitt. Most would still consider him the greatest receiver in Panthers history.

The bigger picture

No, Burks didn’t play on great teams that won big games in the postseason. He didn’t take his Hogs to the mountaintop a la Corliss Williamson in basketball. Or even close to the mountaintop as Sidney Moncrief did in the late 1970s.

But that doesn’t mean what Burks helped to do should be considered any less vital. The foundation, after all, is every bit as important as the home upon which it’s built. It’s the same when trying to construct an elite program.

Burks’ legacy is inextricably linked to the most impressive turnaround in Razorback football history, from the end of the Chad Morris era to the highs of first bowl season under current head coach Sam Pittman.

It’s clear PIttman is building something special, and without Burks’ contributions the speed of Pitttman’s rebuild wouldn’t have been nearly as fast.

Read more here on Burks here: Fan Lobbing F-Bomb at Treylon Burks Can’t Shake His Status as Greatest Razorback Receiver