- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at TE Jordan Reed.
TE Jordan Reed
44 catches, 552 yards, 3 TDs
Role in 2012: Reed was Florida’s only consistent playmaker in the passing game. He led the Gators in receptions and receiving yards in just his second full season as a tight end.
The good: Reed’s size (6-foot-3, 239 pounds), speed and athleticism made him a matchup nightmare for defenses: too big for a defensive back to handle and too fast for a linebacker to cover. He was a first-down machine, too. Half of his catches went for first downs, by far the most of any player. He has gotten better as a blocker, which was the thing he struggled with the most during his transition from quarterback.
The bad: It got better toward the end of the season, but Reed has a tendency to jump whenever he makes a catch -- regardless of where the ball is thrown. Several times he jumped too early and either missed the ball or was forced to make a tougher catch because of his body position. He also needs to be more physical as a runner instead of always trying to leap over tacklers. He’s still learning the position.
Crystal ball: Reed is roughly the same size as Aaron Hernandez and could end up having a similar career in the NFL. It’d be interesting to see the kind of numbers he could put up at Florida if the Gators were able to find any kind of outside threat. Hernandez caught 68 passes his final season at Florida, and Reed could have similar success. He really needs another year to continue to develop, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he left early for the NFL.