Receivers are prima donnas; players with a very defined set of skills but with one major problem.
They may be the fastest (they’ll tell you that), the most talented (they’ll also tell you that) but they can’t do it on their own. They need someone to get them the ball because, as they will tell you, they’re always open.
Virginia transfer Jake McGee isn’t a receiver by position but his skill set makes him one by trade. “My strength is my pass-catching ability,” he said. McGee is 6-6 and a stout 240-pounds by his own admission, a huge security blanket for any quarterback. McGee graduated from the University of Virginia in four years and was granted a waiver to be able to transfer to Florida and play his last year of eligibility with the Gators without having to sit out a season.
He brings a pure pass-catcher to the tight end position — something Florida sorely missed last season after the departure of Jordan Reed — and while it will take time for him to learn the offense and assimilate himself into the locker room, McGee does have a leg up with the man entrusted to get him the ball — Jeff Driskel.
McGee enrolled at Florida for the Summer A session and quickly moved into an off-campus house with Kyle Christy, Trip Thurman and Driskel.
McGee and Driskel had met before; when McGee took a visit to Gainesville to meet with the coaching staff, tour campus and the facilities. He went out to dinner with Driskel that Friday night and the two hit it off.
“Yeah [Driskel] was there,” McGee said. “He came on dinner Friday night and it was just good getting to know him before, [we are] sort of just similar guys, so it was always good to start meeting the quarterback.”
McGee is fitting in well with his new teammates. His current roommates enjoy hunting and fishing, “they’re a little outdoorsy. I think they’re going to get my tan going,” he said. They’re also showing McGee around Gainesville, making sure he gets to class, lifting and meetings on time as the transfer acclimates to his new surroundings.
McGee’s decision to come to Florida wasn’t just about football, according to him, but let’s face it; for a physically gifted tight end with aspirations of playing in the NFL, any transfer would heavily include football. It may not be just solely a football decision but the opportunity to play for Kurt Roper — a coach who recruited McGee out of high school — was too good to pass up.
“It just seemed to be a pretty good fit with sort of having a relationship with Coach Roper from recruiting me out of high school and then playing against Duke the last four years,” McGee said of transitioning to the new offense at Florida. “It was an offense, I haven’t played in, but I was familiar with what they do and how they use the tight end in all different sorts of ways.”
NFL aspirations in mind, McGee will need to produce on the field this season to improve the mid-round grade he received when he submitted paperwork to the NFL. Roper’s scheme and offense will help that but as Keyshawn Johnson famously wrote after his rookie season with the New York Jets, McGee will still need someone to “Just Give Me the Damn Ball.”
It helps to live with your quarterback.
“You’re always in your quarterback’s ear,” McGee said when asked if he’s begun talking to Driskel about the offense. “I’ll let him know if I have some extra food I’ll pass it to him before anybody else. If he needs a ride, you know, I won’t know where I’m going but I’ll take him where he needs to go.”
The tight end and his quarterback are developing a close relationship off the field and if they can carry that between the white lines on Saturdays, the two just might be able to take the Gators where they want to go this season.