Tight end — or as Will Muschamp liked to call it, the offensive defensive end position — looks to finally be getting rejuvenated in Jim McElwain’s offense.
The Gators were fortunate to have back-to-back explosive playermekrs at the position for six years but a few misses in recruiting left the position a barren wasteland of unproductivity.
Jake McGee looked like he would change that in 2014, but McGee never got an opportunity, breaking his leg in the first game of the season. He’s back and with a talented, athletic group of young players behind him, Florida may just have an x-factor position in the making.
“The tight ends help us out big in this offense,” quarterback Treon Harris said. “They one of the first progression reads. We got to get them the ball quick and just get it to them.”
The biggest winner this spring might be redshirt freshman C’yontai Lewis, who had a nice spring game following a very productive camp. Lewis wasn’t happy about taking a redshirt last season but he needed to add size to his long, lean frame. With that process not nearly finished, but well underway, Lewis is ready to make an impact this fall after being rendered a spectator his first season in Gainesville.
“He’s had a pretty good spring. I thought that he’s one of those tight ends — I think I’ve talked about this — I thought our tight end group was young,” McElwain said. “But you know what, you’ve got some guys who will have a chance to be pretty good there and give us an opportunity. C’yontai’s one of them.”
At 6-4 and 229 pounds, Lewis looks the part. He has the frame to add more size and he’s still refining his technique as a blocker but his skill set is undeniable.
“C’yontai brings a lot to the table. He played basketball, so he knows how to go up and get the ball and use his body and keep the ball,” Harris said. “He brings a lot to the table with the over routes, the flat routes. He knows how to protect his body and get down.”
In the past, tight ends haven’t played unless they could block. McElwain admitted that Lewis is still hammering down the details and finer points of blocking, especially in the run game. McElwain, however, will not make the same mistake as the prior coaching staff.
He sees the talent that Lewis has and the potential playmaking ability and added dimension he will bring to the offense.
“He’s a guy who’s important,” Mac said. “He’ll be able to play for us.