McGee applying for sixth year

While Florida graduates two tight ends after this season, the Gators could get a big boost at the position for 2015.

Jake McGee was the starter to begin the 2014 season at tight end, surpassing Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook in fall camp. The Virginia transfer was an important part of what Florida wanted to do on offense, but that didn’t last long. McGee went down early in the season opener against Eastern Michigan after breaking his tibia and fibula.

He was carted off the field and immediately ruled out for the season.

It was a difficult blow for McGee, who was a post-grad transfer to Florida following his four years at Virginia. In his career with the Cavaliers, McGee had 769 yards and seven touchdowns despite mediocre quarterback play. McGee redshirted in 2010 before playing in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The post-grad transfer rules allowed him to leave after graduating, and he elected to play his final year at Florida.

The injury looked like it could have ended his career at Florida, but interim head coach D.J. Durkin said they expect McGee to apply for a sixth year.

“He’s trying to do that,” Durkin said. “We’re trying to get him another year. I totally believe he deserves it and that should work out for him. But we don’t know the answer on that yet.”

Tight end play was an issue with McGee out. Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook both struggled to get open and make consistent catches. Burton’s hands were a problem throughout his career. Westbrook dropped a potential game-winning touchdown against LSU and had a pass bounce off his body that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown against Florida State.

With both Burton and Westbrook gone this year, the Gators don’t have a proven tight end on the roster. That’s where McGee’s return would be important for the Florida offense in 2015. If he isn’t allowed a sixth year, the Gators are down to DeAndre Goolsby, C’yontai Lewis and Moral Stephens returning on the roster. Florida also has two tight ends committed in the 2015 recruiting class.

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