Over the next 86 days, GatorCountry will preview the players that make up the 2013 Florida Gators football team as we inch closer and closer to the season.
Each day we will count down using the player whose jersey number corresponds with how many days there are left until Florida kicks off against Toledo in the Swamp on August 31.
Today we take a look at redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson.
Thompson was a highly rated recruit out of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania. Thompson chose to attend Florida over other schools like Alabama, Boston College, Michigan State, North Carolina, Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Thompson suffered an ankle injury last spring that required surgery. Unfortunately, the ankle didn’t heal properly and Thompson had to undergo a second procedure to insert a screw into his ankle and he missed his entire freshman season.
Thompson is a prototypical tight end. He enjoys getting his nose dirty and blocking but can also be used as a weapon in the passing game. When asked this spring how he likes going up against guys like Dominique Easley, Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler in practice, Thompson smiled and said he loves competing against them and trying to block some of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the SEC.
Thompson’s skill set and body type remind me of Dallas Cowboys tight end, Jason Witten.
Thompson’s biggest asset is his ability to both block and receive at equal levels. Florida enjoyed having Jordan Reed as a receiver the past two seasons but Reed really couldn’t be counted on to run block. Conversely, Clay Burton has been a reliable blocking option for the Gators but hasn’t shown the ability to create mismatches with his pass-catching ability. Thompson may not block as good as Burton or be as good a receiver as Reed was but he is the total package that neither of them are.
As a receiver, Thompson uses his big body well to shield defenders from the ball and when he gets the ball in his hands he is a load to bring down.
Thompson’s skill set will allow Florida to use more versatile schemes and disguise more of the offense when he is on the field.
Thompson could stand to become a more polished receiver. He is a very raw route runner and we saw him have some drops in spring practice. While he is the most well rounded tight end on Florida’s roster, he could stand to continue improving himself as a receiver.
What to Expect
I was excited when Thompson signed in 2012 and expected him to instantly earn playing time behind Jordan Reed. The ankle injury prohibited that but he is back at full strength this season.
The battle for the starting job at tight end is still wide open – although Clay Burton is currently ahead – and Thompson will continue to battle for reps and ultimately the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
Thompson’s ability to be effective as both a pass-catcher and a blocker makes him the most well rounded tight end on the roster. I would like to see him step up this fall and take the starting job as I believe he has the highest ceiling of any of the tight ends on the roster.
Expect to see a lot of Thompson this season and for him to grab the outright starting spot by midway through the season, if not sooner.