In his junior season at the University of Florida, tight end Kyle Pitts reinvented the tight end position and carried a juggernaut Gators offense to an SEC Championship. Now that he’s left for the NFL Draft, where many experts project he’ll be a top-1o pick, the Gators are left trying to figure out if and how they can replace him.
Florida tight end coach Tim Brewster called Pitts a “generational talent” and likened him to a tight end he once coached: Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. The goal at this point, though, is to find someone that can match his “prototype.”
“Kyle is a once-in-a-lifetime guy. He really is, and he’s the prototype. Now, in recruiting, you have to judge everything off of Kyle Pitts. You want to go get the next Kyle Pitts, and he may not be out there. But maybe if you can get a similar replica, that’ll work pretty good.”
Kyle Pitts was automatic on Saturday's 🐊🔥 @kylepitts__
ZERO drops pic.twitter.com/YoDDn60wpq
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) February 23, 2021
Brewster even went so far as to compare the legacy he left for the Gators to the legacy Michael Jordan left for basketball. So, don’t be surprised if you see “Be Like Kyle” jerseys at your nearest Florida Gators apparel shop.
And Brewster did take a lot of time during his first press conference of the season on Wednesday to reflect on the season Pitts had. But he also expressed a lot of excitement in the players who could step up in the tight end room to “be like Kyle.”
Next Man Up
It is not very typical for a team to lose a star player like Kyle Pitts and still feels excited about the state of the position in the following year. But that’s exactly what Brewster said he was: excited about guys like Kemore Gamble, Keon Zipperer, Jonathan Odom and newcomer Nick Elksnis. That’s not even to mention the former 5-star recruit, Arik Gilbert, who announced he’s transferring from LSU to Florida.
I don’t need two or three… I just need one…. the right one‼️🐊🐊🐊
— Tim Brewster (@TimBrewster) February 24, 2021
Gamble has the most experience of the three and filled in last year in Pitts’ absence. The redshirt senior hauled in 160 yards on 10 receptions and three touchdowns. But, Brewster said Elksnis, who signed in December as an early enrollee, has gotten the coaching staff’s full attention.
The true freshman stands at 6-foot-6 and 237 pounds, according to Florida’s roster. So, the young tight end at least matches the physical “prototype” of the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Pitts, but of course, there’s more to Pitts’ talent than just his measurables.
Brewster talked about more than just his tight ends on Wednesday. He said he’s very excited for Emory Jones to get his “time in the sun” as the presumed quarterback of this offense. He expects big things of Jones and Mullen working together in the fall.
So, while many people look at a Gators offense that’s losing Heisman finalist Kyle Trask and generational talent Kyle Pitts and think they can’t replicate that success, Brewster sees lots of potential in the heirs to those two.
It might not be possible to “be like Kyle,” but the coaching is still there, as well as the potential to be great.