Tight end position taking shape

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Coming into the spring, one of the biggest positions of concern for the Florida Gators was tight end, where UF had only three scholarship players — and one was a former quarterback, another a true freshman.

More than midway through spring practice, there is a little less worry about the position, even though one of the three (redshirt freshman Desmond Parks) is out for the spring with an injured wrist.

“We can cancel the season; we’re not going to forfeit any games,” tight ends coach Brian White said. “On Sept. 4, there will be a tight end in our offense and they’ll play good, winning football.”

Jordan Reed, the former quarterback, is having an excellent spring and has been one of the Gators’ most consistent offensive playmakers. Reed also has had some success playing quarterback in UF’s Wildcat package. Gerald Christian, the true freshman, is an impressive physical specimen who is quickly picking up the offense and starting to make plays.

If the season started today, Jordan would be the No.1 guy, with Christian in line to see playing time.

Reed’s emergence is one of the stories of the spring.

“He continues to improve,” White said. “He’s a dynamic athlete. 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. I’ve been really pleased with him. He’s a real dynamic athlete and route runner. He has very rare skills. We’ve got to put him in a position where he can really play fast and not have to think, kind of limit the menu a little bit early and just get him to be a very efficient football player.”

White said he’s also been pleased with the development of Christian.

“He’s a big, physical, strong kid who is really smart,” White said. “I like what I see in him. I think he’s going to have a chance to contribute in some form or fashion on our football team (as a true freshman). If he continues to develop, he’s got a chance.”

Reed and Christian are having a good spring. But there is still much work to do, White said.

“We have a long way to go with both of them to become SEC championship caliber football players,” he said. “But that’s why they put coach in front of my name. We’ve got to get them better.”

Defensive tackle Earl Okine was moved to tight end earlier this week to give the Gators a potential strong blocker at the position for UF’s I-formation package. But that’s a role Reed may eventually be ready to fill.

“He’s actually going to be a very good blocker in time,” White said.