Florida coach Billy Napier watches his quarterbacks, including Anthony Richardson (15), during the NCAA college football team's practice Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Gators Football Tight End Dilemma

The new head coach of the Florida Gators football team, Billy Napier, has assembled quite the staff. Napier has brought in some of the best personnel in the country that have reputations of excellent recruitment and knowledge of the game. Specifically, Napier has brought in William Peagler to become an assistant and the tight ends coach. Peagler is coming from Michigan Sate where he was the running backs coach. He notably coached Kenneth Walker III, who was arguably the best running back in the nation last season. Peagler is now in a situation where he lacks tight ends due to health and depth.

Goals for the tight end position

Coach Peagler is coming into his new position here at Florida and is looking to revamp the tight end position. He wants to utilize the team’s tight ends in both run blocking and over the top receiving. If the Gators are able to establish a respectable run game with solid tight end blocking, the passing game will open up to create a more dynamic offense. With the recent injuries to the Gators few tight ends, this goal has ultimately become that much more difficult. Peagler is embracing the limitations that have been placed on the team and will put his all into creating one of the best tight end rooms in the nation.

Alternate positions stepping in

As spring ball began, the Gators tight end room wasn’t the deepest to begin with, having only four players listed at the position. Unfortunately, the team has seen three of these tight ends suffer season altering injuries. Redshirt freshman Gage Wilcox suffered a career threatening injury in spring practice. This injury will keep him out of play for this season and potentially even the rest of his career. Redshirt sophomore Jonathan Odom suffered a torn labrum and will miss at least the remainder of spring practice. Lastly, redshirt freshman Nick Elksnis suffered a broken scapula and will also miss at least the remainder of spring practice.

Coach Peagler and the rest of the Gators staff haven’t let these injuries derail them on their path to a successful first season. They have taken players such as Dante Zanders and Noah Keeter from their natural positions, and stuck them in as tight ends for portions of spring practice.

2022 Spring Game

With the spring game kicking off in less than a week, Florida Gators football fans are eager to see what Head Coach Billy Napier has put together in his first few months on the job. With the tight end position being in a very weird state, it’s up to the staff to adapt to the limitations and make the most of what they have. The team may look to engage in the transfer portal heavily, but for now they need to put something together for the annual spring game in the Swamp.


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