That’s what made the return of tight end Jake McGee even more important than just his production on the field. Florida coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have both talked about the importance of a tight end in the offense they’d like to run. McGee makes that possible from day one.
He also provides leadership that might be hard to find if he wasn’t around. The skill positions on the Florida roster have plenty of youth, and the offense respects McGee. They watched him go through the rehab process for a broken leg in last year’s season opener and saw how hard he worked to get back on the field.
“He’s a guy that’s really been accepted by his teammates,” McElwain said. “You could tell just the year he was here and what he went through and having him back is huge at that position especially. We like to use tight ends. Tight ends really need to be able to function in a lot of different roles with the shifts and motions and things we do with them.
“He’s a guy who will be able to handle that. He’s a guy who’s done a great job leading his group. Even the way the guys respond to him I thought was pretty good.”
RETAINING SUMMERS: McElwain heard a lot about Mike Summers before coming to Florida. They’d never worked on the same staff, but their career paths took them to schools in the same conferences or regions. Other times, McElwain would cross paths with a coach that had worked with and raved about Summers.
When he took over the Florida program, keeping Summers was a no-brainer. Even though they’d never worked together, McElwain still knew the offensive line coach would help ease the transition to Florida.
“With what we’ve brought in, it’s a very easy transition from the terminology, from like plays and all of that kind of stuff,” McElwain said. “That was a natural. I also felt having that continuity with that o-line group that was here, that was really important moving forward. His experience both at the collegiate level and the NFL level was something that was really important.”
The few offensive linemen that returned to the team this season all expressed their excitement when the announcement was made. Summers might be the most important assistant on the staff while he’s forced to piece together an inexperienced offensive line, but even more important than that, his players know that their position coach cares about them.
“That’s a credit to him,” McElwain said. “One of the things as a position coach, you’ve got to be involved in your guys’ lives. They know, you can tell. They know how much you care. He’s a guy that truly cares.”
INDOOR PRACTICE FACILITY UPDATE: McElwain said Florida is hoping to have partial occupancy of the indoor practice facility, but he wouldn’t give a date for when that could occur.
“I can’t put a date on it,” McElwain said. “It’s obviously been raining a little bit. It’s hurt some of the things they’ve had to do.”
McElwain said that the project remains ahead of schedule. At SEC Media Days, he said the team should be able to practice inside the facility before fall camp came to a close.