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Gator Position Analysis: TE Strengths & Weaknesses

We continue with our look at each position on the Florida Gator football roster and talk about the strengths and weaknesses as we head into the 2016 season.  There was a lot of turnover on both sides of the ball in terms of personnel from the 2015 squad, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Today we’ll talk about the tight end position.

Expected Contributors: Junior DeAndre Goolsby (6-4, 240), Redshirt sophomore Cyontai Lewis (6-4, 230), Redshirt Sophomore Moral Stephens (6-3, 247), Sophomore Camrin Knight (6-3, 237)

Strengths: This is probably as athletic a group as Florida has fielded in a while other than a year ago, but these guys have more experience now.

Goolsby and Lewis have star potential as guys that can get down the field and make plays. Goolsby went from zero catches and playing in seven games as a freshman, to 17 catches for 277 yards and a touchdown as a backup at the position in 2015 and a sophomore. His 16.3 yards per catch is big time for a tight end.

Lewis missed a lot of time with injury in 2015 after redshirting in 2014. He managed to catch four passes for 75 yards (18.8 ypc) and two touchdowns mostly early and came back playing hurt to finish the season. He’s an excellent blocker for his size, maybe the best at that ability in the unit.

Knight lost his redshirt early in the year when injuries hit the position and they needed a good blocker. He was only utilized in that capacity as a freshman while playing in eight games. The blocking aspect might be the lesser of the skills of this overall unit, so Knight can find his way on the field because of that while establishing himself as a pass catcher.

Stephens may have the most physical gifts of the bunch. He’s the heaviest and maybe the fastest of the group. He can really run and drew several accolades from the staff over the spring.

Weaknesses: One thing that we can’t gauge just yet is leadership. Jake McGee was maybe the leader of the entire offense last year and that is something you can’t expect these guys to step into at that level and get done. As far as physical ability, the down field and receiver ability at the position is as good as Florida has had it in quite some time, but the blocking is something that is going to remain a work in progress. As mentioned, Lewis has the want-to to block his man in front of him on every play, but he is tall and thin and can get overmatched. The other guys are a bit more finessed, even with the larger size to them. This is an area that has to be honed a great deal for when they line up as an extension of the line of scrimmage.

Comparison to 2015: The leadership is the big thing. One thing we knew about McGee as well is that he as dependable and going to be there for the quarterback. He had the knack of knowing were the first down line was and maybe just barely crossing it, but he would get that first down if his number was called. The big play making ability should go up with the group with Goolsby and Lewis already showing that last season.  

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