Florida coach Dan Mullen hasn’t wavered when asked about the role the tight ends will have in the offense.
The first half of Saturday’s 53-6 win over Charleston Southern featured Mullen’s offense firing on all cylinders, albeit against a FCS opponent rather than an SEC power, and that meant the Gators looked to get the tight ends involved early and often.
After recording just 26 receptions among three tight ends a season ago, Florida quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask combined to target tight ends on six of UF’s 27 pass attempts on the night, with redshirt freshman Kemore Gamble and redshirt sophomore Lucas Krull each hauling in a pair. The other two passes, intended for redshirt seniors C’yontai Lewis and R.J. Raymond, fell incomplete, but it was clear Mullen intended to stay true to his word.
“It’s a position (where) we have three senior tight ends. We have some big, young guys. Tight ends are going to be a huge part of our offense, we have some depth at that position,” Mullen said after the game. “We want to continue to see those guys improve because they’re going to be a big part of our offense.”
The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Krull concurred that he needs to continue learning the fundamentals of playing tight end at the SEC level after spending the past two years away from the game while pitching at Arkansas and then at the junior college level.
“It’s been awesome. It’s been a transition for sure, but it’s been a great transition. I’m getting better every day,” Krull said. “When I played in high school, I never really put my hand down. I was always more of a receiver type. So, really getting my hand down and learning the fundamentals of blocking and staying low and keeping the low pad level, because I’m so tall — that’s really been the biggest challenge for me.”
Regardless of where he’s at from a progression standpoint, Saturday featured Krull’s talents on full display.
Before finding Tyrie Cleveland on a re-creation of Tim Tebow’s iconic one-yard “jump pass” to former UF tight end Tate Casey, Franks found Krull open on back-to-back receptions. After hitting Krull on a three-yard screen, Franks found Krull open for 33 yards to set up Cleveland’s touchdown and give UF a 31-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Good route by Lucas. We had called that play a couple times and I think it was just a good executed route by Lucas,” Franks said of Krull’s 33-yard snag. “He got past the flat defender not too far to where the corner could fall off and get in the way, so it was a good route by him and good catch, and good receiving yards after the catch as well.”
Florida’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come for Krull, who just two months ago was wrapping up a baseball career in junior college.
Now that the first and second receptions are accounted for, Krull can focus on the task at hand: improving his fundamentals to become an all-around contributor.
“I was just excited. My heart was racing, because I was ready to go,” Krull said of Saturday’s debut. “I was sitting on the sidelines jumping up, jumping down, because it was the first time in The Swamp with all those people, and it was just an adrenaline rush I had never had before.”