John Burt, a freshman wide receiver at the University of Texas doesn’t know why five current or former FBS receivers or defensive backs decided to run the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division I men’s track and field championships this week. While their decision to participate in the event won’t have an effect on college football betting lines, an injury could ruin their seasons.
According to Burt, most college receivers and defensive backs that decide to participate in track and field usually run the 100m dash, so he is surprised they have started running the 110m hurdle, especially since they don’t do a lot of hurdling in football.
Hurdling in football is so rare that when they happen, the crowd goes crazy, and the play ends up on the highlight reel on Sportscenter or any other sports highlight show. On the football field, the receivers and defensive backs are required to run, time their jumps, catch or intercept the ball, and continue running.
On the track, they will have to run, time their jumps, execute, and continue running at top speed, which is much different than what they do on the football field.
Even though there are significant differences in catching the football and running hurdles, some football players have been very successful doing both.
Willie Gault, a key receiver for the 1985 Chicago Bears, who won the Super Bowl, was a successful two-sport athlete while he was at Tennessee. Former Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints defensive back Jabari Greer, was another successful two-way athlete that excelled at both football and running the 110m hurdle.
This year, USC’s Adoree Jackson and Arizona State’s Tim White, are two of the top four seeds in the triple jump and long jump. In the 110m hurdles, one in five of the top seeds has some experience playing college football.
Burt is the lowest seed running the hurdle in the tournament, having run it in 13.91 seconds at the NCAA West Preliminaries in May. Last season, Burt was the leading receiver for the Texas Longhorns, with 457 yards in his freshman season.
Oregon Sophomore Devon Allen, who is one of the top seeds in the tournament 50 catches for 778 yards and 7 touchdowns in his two seasons at Oregon. Allen also has two NCAA championships, was named to two All-American nods and has won a U.S. championship in the 110 hurdles.
Alabama junior Troy Brown, who was a 2013 All-USA second team honoree, also plays football for the Crimson Tide. Brown had two uneven seasons with the football team, but he is the 5th seed in the hurdles.
LSU junior Jordan Moore is the 6th seed. Unlike the other athletes, who either played receiver or defensive back, Moore is a running back and special teams player for the Tigers. While he was at TCU from 2012 to 2014, Moore won a Big 12 outdoor title in the 110m hurdle.
While these athletes are running for their schools this summer, they are also eagerly anticipating the start of the football season. And some of them see their participation in track and field as a way to train for the upcoming football season.