McGee anxious for Gators' opener

A lot has changed for Florida tight end Jake McGee since he caught his last pass in a game.

It came during his last year at Virginia in 2013. The Cavaliers finished their season with a home game against Virginia Tech. Jake McGee led Virginia with four catches for 65 yards, the last one coming midway through the third quarter on a seven-yard catch.

After that, it has been 21 months of nothing.

McGee used the post-graduate transfer rule to finish -- or so he thought -- his college career at Florida in 2014. Instead, he broke his leg in the first half of the season opener and had to appeal the NCAA for an extra season. The senior insists he could’ve gone through spring practice but was held out just to play it safe.

He hasn’t been limited at all during the fall and is an important leader to the Florida offense as the starting tight end.

“Some days they’ve been easier on me, I’ve been though it a little bit but there really hasn’t been any issues at all,” McGee said. “The frustration was last year, just getting hurt. But after a few days, you really bounce back and you make it positive, so everything has been a good time. It’s exciting more than frustrating just to get back out there, seeing that rehab went well and I’m back ready to play.”

That won’t make this week go by faster. The long offseason was hard enough for McGee to make it through, wanting more than anything to get back on the field and prove his leg was healthy. When the beginning of the season now five days away, McGee is anxious to get back on the field and make his first catch in almost two years.

“It’s just great being back out there, so I’m just excited,” McGee said. “Every day more and more excited to get back to a game setting. Prepare right this week. I don’t think I’ll be nervous this week, just anxious to get back out there.”

It’s even more exciting that he’s part of what should be a good offense. McGee watched from the sideline last season as a disappointing Florida offense eventually served as the reason Will Muschamp and the previous staff were fired. He came to Florida to play for Muschamp and that staff, but it hasn’t been difficult to adjust to the new staff.

Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier both have histories of heavy tight end involvement and should feature McGee in that role this fall.

“I think the offense is at a good point right now, especially starting today, we’ll put the emphasis on the plays for the team that we’re going against this week,” McGee said. “As we add each day this week, we’ll sort of fine tune the game plan this week, I think some of the base that we put in is going to be pretty successful.”

Just as important as his role on the field, McGee is the veteran leader for a young but talented tight end position. Redshirt freshman C’yontai Lewis was listed second on the depth chart released Monday, but sophomore DeAndre Goolsby and redshirt freshman Moral Stephens will also be involved at the position.

If there’s one group that has been a positive surprise on the offense this fall, it’s the tight ends.

“I’ve tried to help them as much as I can because they’re both heck of a football players,” McGee said. “They’re both going to be successful this year and down the road. I’ve tried to put everything that I’ve learned over time and give as much as I can. I’m excited for them to get on the field, for C’yontai’s first year. It will be Goolsby’s second, but first big impact he’ll have. I’m excited for him.

“They still got their babyfaces. Last year that group was an old group, guys who have been through a lot. This year they might have some growing pains, but I think down the line that they’ll both be really good assets for this team.”

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