- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, 2013, GatorNation will break down each position. We’ll look at 2013, of course, but also try and give you a peek beyond next season, too. Today is tight end. We will profile wide receivers on Jan. 17.
Two-deep: With the departure of Jordan Reed to the NFL, the Gators are thin on experience at this position. Juniors Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook have played the most of any of the tight ends on the roster. Burton has as many drops in his career as he does catches (two) and Westbrook is a former defensive lineman who was converted to tight end before the 2012 season.
Next up: Sophomore Kent Taylor was one of two tight ends the Gators signed in 2012. A concussion set him back early in the season and he never made much of an impact, catching just two passes for 5 yards and a touchdown. Colin Thompson was forced to redshirt after he underwent a second surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. He is expected to be healthy for spring practice.
High-profile commits: None.
Additional targets: None.
Looking into 2013: Tight end production in the passing game is a major question mark. Thompson should immediately help as a blocker, but the Gators need weapons in the passing game. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Taylor is the best option there, provided the Gators use him right. He’s a flex tight end who should be used similar to the way former UF standout Aaron Hernandez was used. Line him up wide, in the slot, or as an H-back and get him in space so he can take advantage of mismatches. Thompson could be a factor in the passing game as a red zone target, but Burton and Westbrook should only be used as blockers. Burton dropped an easy touchdown pass and another pass on a fake field goal against Florida State.