Transfer McGee ready to work
Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 5:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 5:17 p.m.
Virginia transfer Jake McGee has only been on the Florida campus for a few weeks, but the pass-catching tight end has already made an important stride toward becoming a factor in the Florida offense in 2014.
He's made a strong connection with his quarterback, Jeff Driskel.
Not only did Driskel go out to dinner with the tight end on McGee's official visit to UF last month, but the two are now roommates, along with punter Kyle Christy and offensive lineman Trip Thurman.
“Yeah, (Driskel) was here (for my visit). He came to dinner Friday night and it was just good getting to know him before,” McGee said Thursday. “(We are) sort of just similar guys, so it was always good to start meeting the quarterback.
"I'm actually living with him (Driskel) and Kyle Christy and Trip Thurman. It's been good. They're taking care of me, making sure I don't get on the wrong street, and that I get to class and lifting on time."
If everything goes as planned, the new connection between Driskel and McGee will grow stronger (and more repetitive) as time goes by and the Gators start playing games in the fall.
In fact, there's a chance McGee could end up becoming a go-to guy for Driskel this season, much like tight end Jordan Reed was two years ago when he led the Gators in receiving.
Coming out of spring practice, the one missing piece to new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's uptempo, no-huddle attack appeared to be the lack of a pass-catching playmaker at tight end (or the new “B” position).
But Roper may have his guy now with the addition of McGee, who graduated from Virginia this spring and made the decision to transfer to Florida, where he is eligible immediately after receiving a waiver from the SEC.
McGee, a fast, athletic tight end who caught 71 passes for 769 yards and seven touchdowns over the past two seasons for the Cavaliers, seems like an ideal fit in Roper's offense — and a weapon the Gators did not have in the spring.
“I'm very excited. He's guy that has tremendous ball skills, very good athlete at 6-5, 245 pounds and runs extremely well,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “I think he's a good addition to our team, and he'll certainly compete well.
“We had a very good player the year before in Jordan Reed, and we did not have production at that position last season. To be able to have a guy that defenses know they have to account for in terms of 'is he a receiver, is he a tight end, can he create a three-man blocking surface?'
“That changes things in the run game. It changes things in protection and how people will attack you. … We feel like he's a very talented player and a great addition for our team.”
McGee said at the conclusion of spring practice at Virginia he made the decision to transfer, and that Florida is the school he targeted, mainly because of his familiarity with Roper's offense playing against Duke in the ACC.
“(Florida was) a school I reached out to, it just seemed to be a pretty good fit with sort of having a relationship with Coach Roper from recruiting me out of high school and then playing against Duke the last four years,” said McGee, who will pursue his master's degree at UF in sports management. “It was an offense I haven't played in, but I was familiar with what they do and how they use the tight end in all different sorts of ways.”
McGee said he's already starting to feel like he's fitting in at his new school. Driskel and his other new roommates have helped him make a quick adjustment to a new environment, he said.
“It's been a whirlwind at first,” he said. “It was a quick transition; I hadn't even really done graduation yet. Then I got down there and started class right away. The guys have been great, living with some guys off-campus and everybody has been awesome and relationships are starting to build. I really couldn't ask for anything more.”
McGee was asked if his new roommates were hunters and fishermen.
"Yeah, they're a little outdoorsy,” he said. I think they're going to get my tan going."
McGee said he's started bonding with his new teammates in the weightroom and on the practice field, where the quarterbacks and receivers are working out together at least twice a week, he said.
“The training's good. Coach (Jeff) Dillman definitely knows what he's doing and there's a lot of talent in the locker room,” McGee said. “So I think as the summer goes and guys get stronger and faster and more with the throwing and all that, I think there's a lot of good things going on.
“There are a lot of good receivers, lot of good running backs and tight ends are great, too. It's still early. I haven't seen guys in anything but shorts and T-shirts, but there's a lot of athletic ability and they move around. They are some fast football players.”
McGee is still in the early stages of learning the offense, but he already has an idea how his skill set will fit in with what Roper wants to do with his offense — and his tight end.
“At this point I'm just trying to get the offense down and help in any way I can and, as big a role as that may be or as little, have as much of an impact as I can,” he said. “My strength is my pass-catching ability. I'm just trying to become a well-rounded player where I can do pass-catching and blocking.
“I would say from what I've gathered I'm a mismatch to linebackers and safeties. I like to think of myself as a good weapon down the field and on pass routes and stuff like that.”
McGee said Driskel is helping him learn the offense.
“He's been teaching me everything so I'm on the same page as everyone else,” McGee said. “There's a lot of guys that are good football players downstairs so I'm excited to see how it works out.”
McGee was asked if he's been messing with his new roommate (Driskel) in the kitchen.
“I'll let him know if I have some extra food, I'll pass it to him before anybody else,” he said. “If he needs a ride, you know, I won't know where I'm going, but I'll take him where he needs to go.”