Casey Looking to Step Up

Tate Casey was a big contributor as a freshman, pulling in four catches for touchdowns. But it's slowed down in the last three seasons, partly due to injury. Now he's healthy and back from a medical redshirt and ready to help out with the loss of Cornelius Ingram.

Tate Casey played in two games last season and dressed for all 13, but slowed by elbow and ankle injuries, his senior season was a disappointment. Without a prior redshirt season, Casey went through the process for a medical redshirt and now has a second chance at a senior season.

He discussed the process and the tight end position without CI during UF's Media Day.

What led to your medical redshirt last season?

"It was not your typical medical redshirt. Last year, I got hurt in the spring. Then I came back in the fall and blew out an ankle during two-a-days. The elbow kept me out of spring. Came back from the ankle and played in the first two games of the season, but then got hurt during Tennessee week. I blew out the ankle again. I ended up practicing the rest of the year, but the elbow kept flaring up. Since I was getting ready to graduate, I had some academic things to take care of before I could redshirt. We had to find a away that I could stick around, but not jeopardize the credibility of the school academically."

"The staff did a great job, and there are a lot of people that I have to thank - the academic office, Office of Student Life. To be able to stick around another year, I'm grateful for that. I hadn't redshirted, so it was almost like I was getting penalized for getting ready to graduate."

Other than the obvious, how does CI's loss impact the offense?

"There's going to be a lot of slack to pick up. CI leaves a pair of big shoes to fill, but at the same time, we have two guys that can play. Aaron Hernandez did well last season, and I've been around for three years. There's a lot of experience there. I'm not going to say that it won't be easy to replace CI, but Aaron and I have talked and we're ready to bust it up in practice and be ready for the season. We're not going to let the position drop and let the team down. When we've faced adversity, we know how to handle it."

How tough was it waiting for the result of the redshirt?

"It was the worst eight moths I've had since I've been in college. Really, it's out of your control. You can do as much as you can do with academics. There was a lot of stuff I had to get done to get my appeal. As long as I took care of my stuff, I just had to wait for them on their end. The person on the end of the spectrum, you don't know them from Adam. They're reading a sheet of paper that's your story. I had to write a whole paper on why I think I deserved a medical redshirt, and the person on the other end, I don't know them, so whatever I put in there had to be pretty good stuff."

Was the redshirt option a no-brainer?

"Everybody wants to play their senior year. For me to be able to suit up last year and play two games and then sit out was hard to swallow. Especially when you are used to being involved in things on the field. It's definitely hard to take."

Can you relate to what CI is going through after going through something similar last season?

"A lot. The only difference between him and me is that he has redshirted. That's an even tougher pill to swallow. His situation is a little more unique than mine as far as talent goes because it's a no-brainer that CI will play in the NFL one day. It's still okay because he's got the chance to heal up, rehab and then come out and turn heads in the NFL, but when you go through that the best thing you can do is surround yourself with the guys. We've formed a bond on this team where it's like a family. We've got guys on this team that you can surround yourself with and relate to and pick you up and keep you upbeat. There are times when you're around at the house by yourself and you say this sucks and all the other stuff. He'll get there, and when he does there will be guys around here that will pick him up. He's a big part of this team. He's going to be taken care of as far as guys being around him."

CI decided to return for his senior season instead of going to the NFL. Do you think this incident may impact other players in the future?

"No. You can try to slice it anyway you want, but with the information we get from the NFL and the speakers they have come in, it's a smart decision to stay four years. Are there exceptions with families, yes, and players that are exceptions, but guys that get a degree and stay four years end up making more money and stay in the league longer."

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