The tight end position is an interesting one. Some coaches view the position as merely an extension of the offensive line while others see it as an effective weapon in the passing game. And then there’s Dan Mullen.
As the offensive coordinator for the Gators from 2005-2008, a tight end finished among the top four on the team in total receptions three times. However, Mullen’s tight ends factor heavily into blocking and they are also a heavy part of the RPO and used to create mismatches in open space.
You might call the tight end position Mullen’s Mjölnir. He wields them in a similar punishing fashion as Thor uses his mythical hammer. They are required to lay crushing blocks as well as deliver devastating blows to the defense in aerial attacks. Still yet, they impose their collective will in the ground game, too.
“I think this year’s gonna be a big year for us. I mean, we’re getting a lot of action. Like they’re using us a lot. We’re a more important piece of this offense,” C’yontai Lewis, expressed. He has reason to be excited after totalling just 42 yards and a single score on 7 receptions a year ago, he is now poised and primed for a breakout season.
Lewis brings veteran leadership to a young and talented group. His quiet patience over the last couple of years should finally pay off in Mullen’s new offense. For Florida fans, the offensive revival is long overdue but the players are eager as well.
“I like [Coach Mullen’s] offense way better than last year because we are flexed out and we are getting the ball this year,” said Kemore Gamble. The 6’4 216-pound tight end has earned praise from both this staff and the previous one.
Gamble gives the Gators a menacing presence as a blocker. He has great body control, good hand eye coordination, and should get plenty of chances to show these skills off in the coming season.
Lucas Krull joins the Gators as the No. 1 JUCO tight end for the 2018 class and top 5 JUCO prospect overall. At 6’7″ and 255 lbs, Krull is deceptively fast with ideal size.
While he has mostly practiced with the two’s, Krull will split quite a bit of time with Lewis. Both tight ends will be very effective weapons in the middle of the field.
Moral Stephens also returns some experience to the position group. Only 13 total receptions from last season return to the room and Stephens has 6 of them. One of those was a career long and a team long tying 63 yard reception at South Carolina.
Stephens only managed 141 total yards in 11 games but, like the rest of the tight ends, looks forward to a much bigger piece of the pie this year. Part of achieving that goal is to apply the techniques and nuances that they have learned from new tight ends coach, Larry Scott.
“Anytime you have an offense like we run, a lot is out on their table from a standpoint that they have to know protections, run calls, pass routes. Next to the quarterback, they are the guys on the field that [have] to know the most. With that comes a great sense of responsibility and accountability – make sure you are prepared and studying. And with that also comes, ‘I really have to know the game. I have to learn how defenses structure fronts and all these different things so that I can see the things that I need to, so that I can play with the consistency that I need to,'” Scott said this spring.
“So, I’m excited about it. We all are. We will continue until we get to where they need to be.”
Rounding out the group’s depth are R.J. Raymond and freshmen, Dante Lang and Kyle Pitts. Raymond is a walk-on who just made the transition to tight end this season. Raymond found out that he will be on scholarship for the 2018 season on Monday. Lang, is considered a developmental player. He switched from defensive end to tight end his senior year in high school. Pitts was a high school All-American and looks to contribute immediately this fall.