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Monday, June 17, 2013
Gator Breakdown: Kent Taylor

By Michael DiRocco

During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.

No. 18 Kent Taylor
Sophomore tight end

Kent Taylor
Kent Taylor has been criticized by coaches, who say he must get stronger to be a big contributor.
Expectations for 2013: The Gators have a huge void to fill at tight end with the departure of Jordan Reed, and Taylor is supposed to replace a big chunk of Reed’s team-high 45 catches from 2012. However, the tight ends as a group have been disappointing and the coaches have criticized the 6-foot-5, 224-pound Taylor for his lack of physicality and said he has to get stronger. He could be a key part of the passing game because he’s a matchup issue. He’s a flex tight end, meaning he can line up in the slot, out wide, in the backfield or as an H-back. That makes defenses unsure how to account for him.

Best-case scenario in 2013: If Taylor hits the weight room hard this summer and uses that additional strength to be tougher, he could become a weapon in the passing game. UF needs a reliable option in the short to intermediate range and Taylor is a big target with good hands. Catching 45 passes might be too much to ask, but Taylor can be a big help with 25-30 catches.

Worst-case scenario in 2013: Taylor’s biggest weakness is his physicality, and it’s what will keep him off the field in 2013. Even though he’s not expected to line up next to the tackle and be used as an in-line blocker, Taylor still has to be strong enough (and willing) to take on linebackers and to get away from press coverage. If that doesn’t improve, then he’ll be no factor.

Future impact: Taylor could be a valuable weapon in the passing game and can be used the same way that former UF player Aaron Hernandez was during his career. But it all depends on Taylor committing himself to getting stronger and tougher.