It’s not easy to miss Kyle Pitts. The 6-foot-6 sophomore has accumulated several highlight-reel plays midway through Florida’s spring camp, often at the expense of the vaunted secondary.
Now in his second season at Florida, Pitts is seemingly the ideal tight end in a Dan Mullen offense, his speed as much of a factor as his lengthy frame. Just ask those competing with him for playing time.
“He’s one of the most dynamic players we have, as you can see. He comes in as a tight end. Now we got him as a receiver, and he’s a guy we can put anywhere on the field,” tight end Lucas Krull said. “It’s awesome to have a young guy like him that we can count on now. He’s a great player, he’s a great teammate and I love the way he’s working his butt off. It’s good to see him coming around.”
Pitts played in 11 games last season, primarily on special teams, as C’yontai Lewis and Moral Stephens locked down both tight end spots during their final season in Gainesville. Now, with the starting spot open for the taking, Pitts has thrown his name into the discussion in his first spring camp at Florida.
But Pitts isn’t just competing for playing time at tight end. In the aftermath of his freshman season at UF, the pass-catching specialist has spent much of his time working with the wide receivers — a sizable workload for a player who less than a year ago was preparing for high school graduation.
“He had to learn a lot and learn a lot fast. The tight ends, they have a lot more stuff to learn than receivers, because they have protection and stuff like that. He already knew what he had to do. But switching to receiver, now he knows what he’s doing, so we can play with him and put him in a lot of different spots being that he’s that big, vertical threat,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said of Pitts. “He’s learning, he’s getting better every day. He’s going to be big for us this year.”
Dante Lang, who arrived with Pitts in the summer prior to the 2018 season, may be fighting with his fellow pass-catcher for opportunities on the field, but that didn’t stop him from raving about the Abington, Pennsylvania, native.
“Oh man, he’s amazing. That’s one of my closest friends on the team, but he’s amazing,” Lang said of Pitts. “He’s able to go play out wide and still come in and put his hand in the dirt and still give you work at the same time.”
It would be understandable to claim Lang is at least slightly biased, considering his professed affinity for his teammate. If Lang’s opinion doesn’t affirm Pitts’ breakout potential, however, Florida’s secondary seems eager to come to the defense of the sophomore tight end.
“He moves really good for his size. I wouldn’t expect him to move like that just looking at him. But he’s really big and smooth, he’s fast, so he’s a big mismatch. He’s like a tight end, but he moves like a receiver,” defensive back Donovan Stiner said of Pitts. “He’s getting us better, we’re getting him better. He’s very talented and only getting better.”
During Saturday’s open practice, Pitts made a leaping reception along UF’s sideline during the 7-on-7 portion, drawing an applause from those in attendance. Kyle Trask’s pass may have been right on the money, yet it was Pitts’ body control and hands that have his teammates salivating at his potential in 2019.
“He’s a big guy. He’s a good route runner and he has decent speed,” safety Shawn Davis said of Pitts. “He’s long, so you have to play him, like, body him, and stuff like that.”
When it comes to replacing experience along the offensive line, the tight end position is an addendum to the list of those Mullen and Co. must address if the Gators hope to meet their internal expectations this season. If Pitts keeps impressing and improving, however, Mullen and the offensive coaching staff might have one less thing to worry about before Aug. 24.
“I feel as if Kyle Pitts, he’s very versatile. He can run routes like a receiver, but he’s got big hands and he can make tough catches and he can go over your head whenever he wants because he’s so tall,” safety Brad Stewart said, “and they can throw it to him like out of the box like some Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham type stuff. So I like Kyle Pitts, that’s a good guy.”