JACKSONVILLE — Trey Burton prepared for Friday’s Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame induction by watching YouTube. He wanted to replay some of the plays he played against the Bulldogs to refresh his memory.
A trip back in time brought one of college football’s great rivalries back to life for Burton.
“The thing that stuck out to me was how physical it was,” Burton said. “It was super physical, super competitive. And there was so much nonsense. That was one of the funniest things looking back on it. So many big names played on both sides at different times.
“It was a lot of fun to be a part of.
It’s never funnier than his first.
In Florida’s 34-31 overtime win over the Bulldogs in 2010, Burton was a freshman playing quarterback, running back and receiver. After scoring on a 1-yard run earlier in the game, Burton took a direct snap late in the fourth quarter and raced for a 51-yard touchdown to give the Gators a 31-24 lead. He finished with a team-high 110 yards and caught five passes for 35 yards.
He played in three more games between Florida and Georgia, all games won by one score by the Bulldogs. Still, Burton’s loud introduction to the rivalry earned him a place in the game’s lore.
Burton holds the school record for touchdowns in a single game with six (five rushing, one receiving) becoming just the fourth player in SEC history to score 36 or more points in a game.
He played eight seasons in the NFL and played a role in one of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history when he threw a touchdown pass to Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in what is known as the Philly Special. Philadelphia beat New England 41-33 in February 2018 to cement Burton’s place in Super Bowl history.
Burton has never strayed far from his UF roots, serving as a Gator Boosters board member and occasionally showing up to practice. Burton greatly appreciates the idea that he should be remembered for his contributions to the Florida-Georgia game.
“I’m so honored. This is such a special game for so many reasons,” he said. “The biggest game of the year, probably. I personally have family in Alpharetta, Georgia, Bulldog Country. It’s kind of like a split family, but it’s special for all of us.”
Meanwhile, former Gators standout receiver Andre Caldwell joins Burton as another UF attendee. Georgia’s Champ Bailey and John Little represented the Bulldogs.
Caldwell also won a Super Bowl ring after college, helping the Broncos defeat Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Caldwell, who spent five seasons at UF, won three of the four games he played against the Bulldogs.
He was never better than in 2006, when he rushed for a touchdown and caught eight passes for 88 yards — including a 40-yard touchdown — in Florida’s 21-14 win over Georgia. The Gators won their second national championship that season.
Caldwell said when he reflected on the Florida-Georgia rivalry, he realized it meant as much as any game he played.
“This game was over the top,” he said. “When you win this game, you have a good chance to win the SEC and the national title. It’s such a big rivalry. It’s been a battle every year with these guys.”
Caldwell was a four-year letterwinner who finished his career with a school-record 185 receptions and 2,349 yards, the third-highest total in Florida history.
A native of Tampa, Caldwell made his debut in the Florida-Georgia game 19 years ago. He’s accomplished a lot in the game since then, but as he returns to the site of so many memories Friday, he’s ready to experience the game from a new perspective Saturday when the Gators take on the No. 1 Bulldogs at TIAA Bank Field. .
“Those games were spectacular,” Caldwell said. “The competition, the athletes that have played in this game, to be recognized in this light is a blessing. I’ve won a Super Bowl. I’ve won a national championship. There’s no experience like that.”