The last time Dan Mullen was on the Florida Gators coaching staff, tight ends were a key component of the offense.
Since then, the use of the tight end, and sequentially Florida’s offensive performance, has been on a downhill slope.
Jordan Reed is the only tight end to sustain any real success for the Gators since those championship years, and it feels like he’s been gone for ages. The position has simply been put on the backburner for far too long.
Last season, Florida’s tight ends scored a grand total of two touchdowns and combined for just 26 receptions for 287 yards. And nearly half of that came from DeAndre Goolsby, who is gone now.
That means tight ends on the current roster have had little to no success in their college careers so far. They haven’t had much confidence instilled in them over the last few years.
Most would say confidence is something they must figure out for themselves, but new tight ends coach Larry Scott believes it is his job to teach his players confidence.
“I think confidence is one of those things you gain through performance,” Scott said. “I think what we have to do is stay in the moment, and do what you have to do and do your job, then with performance will come confidence. Confidence can’t be fake and it can’t be said and stated. It has to be coached into them.”
That newfound sense of confidence has been evident in players like C’Yontai Lewis. The redshirt senior even tweeted that he’s caught more passes this spring than he has in his entire career at Florida.
A player who was a bit immature in his first years with the Gators has become one of the biggest leaders on the team, and that speaks volumes.
The tight ends are finally learning what it means to be a valuable part of the offense, and feeling better about themselves with each practice.
“You’re starting to see a little bit out here from practice one to practice nine now that we’re in,” Scott said. “They’ve caught some balls, they’ve made some blocks, they’ve done some good things fundamentally and technique wise, and you have started to see the confidence come on, but we want to keep that going with performance to build that confidence.”
That confidence will be important in the new offense.
With so much more emphasis on the position, their intelligence, leadership and overall ability on the field will be tested like never before.
“Any time you have an offense like we run, a lot is put on their table from a stand point that they have to know protections, run calls, pass routes,” Scott said. “Next to the quarterback, they are the guys on the field that has to know the most. With that comes a great sense of responsibility and accountability.”
Along with Lewis, redshirt senior Moral Stephens and redshirt freshman Kemore Gamble have also made strides this spring. Now, it is all about the learning process and showing some consistency.
After the last few years, up is the only way this unit can go. Scott and the new staff are out to make the tight end prominent at Florida once again.