MANHATTAN — Deante Burton only needs one word to explain what he most enjoys about attending Kansas State.
“I hear guys all the time struggling to get their laundry done,” he said. “I just take it to my mom’s house. It’s three lefts from here. It’s real nice having a support system.”
Burton certainly benefits from his local roots. The redshirt sophomore receiver grew up in Manhattan and used to play under the lights at Bishop Stadium, a short drive up Kimball Avenue from K-State’s football complex. He can visit his parents whenever he pleases and he can reunite with old friends more easily than his out-of-state teammates.
That made for an easy transition to college life.
The transition to college football was another story.
“I don’t think I was consistent with my game play and my practice habits,” Burton said, thinking back to his first days on campus in 2012. “You have to come out and bring it every day. I can’t have a good week of practice and then a bad week. Physically, I came in and was ready to go. Mentally I had room to grow.… You don’t have someone there holding your hand anymore.”
Two years later, Burton appears to have learned what it takes to play at the Big 12 level.
He sat out his first season with a redshirt, trying to figure out how to adjust to the daily demands of a strength coach, a position coach and a full load of classes. He barely played in 2013, adjusting to the weekly grind of a potential contributor. He thinks he matured along the way. Dropped passes and poor practices are no longer difficult to bounce back from.
Now, the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is poised for more.
“Deante Burton has really stepped up and proven that he can play,” K-State football coach Bill Snyder said.
If Snyder released a depth chart during spring practices — he doesn’t — Burton would be listed as a starter next to star senior Tyler Lockett and returning starter Curry Sexton.
“Burton has probably moved up to that level,” Snyder said.
That progression isn’t much of a surprise. Burton flashed his talents in high school, and coaches raved about his early performances on the scout team.
He was deemed a potential contributor heading into last season, but an abundance of receiver depth relegated him to mostly special-teams duty. Competition remains at receiver, especially with former quarterback Daniel Sams now in the mix, but Burton boasts more size than most receivers on the roster.
His build resembles former standout Chris Harper. He could easily take on a bigger role this season.
“That’s definitely a goal, but I still have to take it one practice at a time,” Burton said. “I think I have gotten better and I have picked up on some things, but I am just taking it one practice at a time.”
That might sound cliché, but unlike laundry, he didn’t know how to do that when made the switch from Manhattan High to K-State.
Now that he does, he can’t wait to show the public what he can do. His next chance comes April 26 at K-State’s spring game.
“I want to show fans that I can bring a deep threat to this offense and show that I’m a guy who can go up and get the ball as a vertical guy,” Burton said. “I think teams are going to be focused a lot on Lockett … I want to emerge as the receiver who will take some pressure off of him and make plays.”