Brian White Surrounded by Youth

You know how every coach in every sport talks about how "young" his/her team or unit is? It gets kind of old after a while. Well no one on the Florida campus, other than rookie lacrosse coach Amanda O'Leary is dealing with more youth than Florida tight ends coach Brian White.

Brian White has three guys on his unit – two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman. On top of that the "experienced" redshirt freshman, Desmond Parks is out with an injury leaving only converted quarterback Jordan Reed and newly arrived Gerald Christian for White to tutor. Christian, the true freshman from Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer has gotten his coach to take notice.

"I've been very impressed. He's a big, strong physical kid that's smart. (Wednesday) he has a really good practice. I like what I see in him and think he'll have a chance to contribute in some form or fashion to our football team."

Reed was Florida's third quarterback last fall, but instead of stepping into the No. 2 spot behind Johnny Brantley he's taking a shot at the TE job. White said Reed brings a lot to the position.

"Jordan continues to improve. He's a dynamic elite athlete and we're going to ask him to do a lot of things so we have to continue his learning curve. He's really improved the last two or three practices so I'm really pleased with him."

White said while he's impressed with the young players, he's not ready to say they will be major factors in the Florida offense this fall.

"We have a long way to go with both of them (in order) to become SEC Championship caliber football players, but that's why they put "Coach" in front of my name. I've got to get them better."

It seems clear that Reed is ahead of Christian at this time, which makes sense considering Reed had all of fall to learn the offense. White was asked what Reed has to do in order to improve.

"He's just learning how to speak the language in order to play fast. I'm starting to see that. He's actually going to be a really good blocker in time. He's got some very rare skills. We've got to put him in position so that he can really play fast and not have to think. (One option is) maybe limit the menu a little bit early and get him to be a really efficient football player."

Reed returned to his QB roots for a scrimmage and ran the offense as the "Wildcat" quarterback. White said pulling that duty along with learning the tight end position is pretty demanding.

"The scrimmage was great, but I would say it's not easy. You have to be a pretty unique, talented and special athlete and person to do it. He's continuing to getter and that's all we ask of him."

One of the interesting sights in recent practices has been Earl Okine in the tight end position. Many believe Okine, a sophomore defensive tackle, is better suited to be a blocker in the long run. I asked White what the early returns were on Okine's efforts on that side of the ball.

"It was really impressive, him as a point blocker, really impressive. There will be a role for Earl as well, and that's what spring ball is for experimentation and trying to create roles for people."

So just how wide open is the TE competition? White didn't mince words.

"As wide as the Grand Canyon is wide."


Parks is expected to be 100 percent for fall and freshman Mike McFarland will also join the competition in August.

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