UF Class Breakdown - TEs

One huge need for the Florida Gators this past season was tight end and UF signed three good ones in JUCO <B>Markell Thompson</B> and prep standouts <B>Tate Casey</B> and <B>Dane Guthrie</B>.

Tight end was a huge need for the University of Florida this season. With Ben Troupe having such a monster season for Florida in '03 you would think it would be an easy sell for Coach Zook and his staff. Well, UF signed three tight ends but only two may end up on campus.

First of all, they went the JUCO route for the second recruiting season in a row to land Markell Thompson. Thompson has great size and could also play defensive end or even grow into an offensive tackle. Thompson is already on campus in Gainesville and will get a spring practice under his belt.

UF went out of state and landed Tate Casey from Longview, Texas. Casey has terrific size and is a terrific athlete. Like Thompson he is also a very good defensive end prospect. But Casey is also an outstanding pitcher. He throws in the mid-90s and there's a good chance he could be a very high round draft choice in June's Major League Baseball Draft. So there is a chance he never shows up on campus this fall.

Florida pulled a big surprise on Signing Day flipping Dan Guthrie from his Miami commitment to sign with the Gators. Guthrie is bigger than Casey and a better blocker at this stage. Like most tight end prospects coming out of high school he needs to work on route running.

Tate Casey
What his coach said?
"Tate is just an outstanding player and a tremendous athlete. He is a three-sport star (football, baseball, basketball) and a three-year starter in football. He is also a big time defensive end and that may be his best position. Tate is a big-play guy that we could always count on in critical situations."

The Stats
This past season Casey caught 15 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown. As a junior he caught 19 passes for 362 yards and three scores.

Dane Guthrie
What his coach said?
"This is our first year with Dane because he transferred from Miami Columbus," said Killian OL coach Craig. "It took him some time to adjust but he stayed very positive. Dane is strong and explosive. His first step is very quick and he would make a great defensive end. "

Markell Thompson
What his coach said?
"He's a great athlete," said Head Coach Dom Green. "He plays some defensive end for us. He runs well with a 4.8 forty. He may end up as an offensive tackle when he goes to a D1 school. He's just an athlete."

The Stats
Playing defensive end this past season he recorded 74 tackles, 21 QB hurries, 11 tackles for a loss and 5 sacks.

My Take?
This was a huge need for UF and they more than fulfilled it, especially if all three make it to campus. Thomspon is already there, Guthrie will show up this summer and now the question is will Casey? He throws in the mid-90s and may be a high draft pick this June in the Major League Baseball Draft. Casey may have the most upside of the trio and everyone will know where he stands this summer. Thompson has enormous size for a tight end but he could very well grow into an offensive tackle or play on the DL. This could depend on the need of the coaches and how willing he is to change, if called upon to change. Guthrie is a good blocker at this stage and will surprise you with his pass catching ability.

Is there a Ben Troupe among this bunch? That's doubtful but what Florida needs are some tight ends to block well enough in their running game and be an option in the passing attack. All three meet those criteria.

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