Over the next 87 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 junior tight end Tevin Westbrook
Westbrook was a 3-star rated defensive end at North Broward Prep in Pompano Beach, Florida. He chose Florida over schools like FAU, North Carolina, UConn, Purdue and USF.
Westbrook started his Gator career as a defensive end but like the player we profiled yesterday (Clay Burton) made the switch to the offensive side of the ball to help fill out the depth chart at tight end.
Westbrook made six appearances on defense as a freshman, with a career high two tackle against Kentucky, and appeared in all 13 games last season including a start against Bowling Green in the season opener.
Westbrook has 2 tackles, 1 for a loss. He didn’t record any offensive statistics in his first season at tight end but did play in all 13 games including one start.
At 6’5”, 260-pounds, Westbrook has great size for the position. A former defensive end, Westbrook is one of the strongest tight ends on the roster and is about on par with Burton as a blocker.
Westbrook played in all 13 games last season, being used almost exclusively as an extra blocker on running plays, and according to GatorZone graded 80% or better in seven of those games.
Having played defense his whole life, Westbrook spent most of last year getting acclimated to his new position. While he was able to use his strength and physicality to help as a blocker, those things won’t help him run routes and catch passes.
Westbrook needs to work on his route running and hands. From what I saw this spring, it looks like Westbrook has already started working on becoming a better pass-catcher. He looked much better this year than he did a year ago and he should continue to improve as he becomes more familiar to the playbook and the new position.
What to Expect
As we alluded to yesterday, the battle for reps at tight end is still up in the air. Westbrook, Burton, Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson will all have an opportunity to earn the starting spot this fall.
As things stand now, I would expect Westbrook to continue to be more of a blocking option for the Gators but with the improvement he has already made as a receiver this offseason he could potentially put up some offensive numbers.
Don’t expect Westbrook to lead the team in receptions or receiving yards but he is a vital piece in Florida’s power running attack, so he’ll get playing time. If he continues making strides and developing he could turn into a surprise player for the Gators this year.