The only one to play from a three-man freshman class of tight ends, Goolsby looked ready to make an impact last season. He played early in the year, but those reps decreased as Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook led the group after McGee’s broken leg.
With those two graduated and McGee not on the field in live drills this spring, Goolsby is the most experienced player at the position at those times.
“It’s always good for us to get more reps, learn the playbook,” DeAndre Goolsby said. “It’s a whole different type of scheme now so really getting into the offensive playbook and being around everybody.”
Florida coach Jim McElwain said he is a firm believer in using his tight ends, and they’re searching to find their most productive ones this spring. Goolsby said the new offense isn’t much different for tight ends, but it requires them to learn more since it includes a lot of option routes.
“It fits me well,” he said. “Of course, I’d like to be a receiving tight end, but you get a lot of schemes for receivers and tight ends. A lot of switch-ups. A lot of miss-match things too. It’s always good for us to be able to do more than just block.”
Redshirt freshmen C’yontai Lewis and Moral Stephens have impressed at times this year, and even true freshman Daniel Imatorbhebhe has made some nice grabs in the open portions of practice. Add in Goolsby and McGee, the Gators could have a deep group at tight end that complement each other well.
“We’re definitely a really athletic tight end group,” Goolsby said. “Everybody has a different skill set when it comes to their style of play. We’ve all played different places, but we’re all very versatile players I guess. Just to be able to get the ball in our hands, we can change the game a lot.”
McGee getting a sixth year of eligibility was an important part of the group. None of the other players have much college experience, and while they do have talent, it’s important to have an established leader like McGee.
“It definitely takes a lot of pressure off of me,” Goolsby said. “Having all of that on my shoulders, thinking I could have been the only one that would have had the experience to be out there, I’d have to be ready to go at all times. It’s definitely beneficial to have him out there because of course I don’t feel like it’s all me. I could have someone there with me.”