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Versatile Jordan Reed emerges as Florida Gators' top option at tight end

GAINESVILLE — Jordan Reed's video collection over the past summer expanded to include any and all things related to Charlie Weis before he arrived in Gainesville.

The Florida quarterback turned tight end wanted to know all he could about the offensive system he was stepping into with new offensive coordinator Weis and the former tight ends he has so famously made successful.

After studying film of the New England Patriots, Notre Dame and the Kansas City Chiefs, Reed is pumped about his potential role in Florida's offense this season.

"From the past he uses tight ends a lot, so I'm pretty excited about that," Reed said. "Hopefully he'll use me like he's used those other guys. The guy from Kansas City, the last tight end he had, was pretty good. And I feel like I can do some of the same things he could do."

Reid could be a breakout star in a Gator offense desperately needing one. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt sophomore played 12 games with four starts last season, alternating in the Gators' much-maligned three quarterback system. He was 26-of-46 passing for 252 yards and three touchdowns, caught six passes for 79 yards and a touchdown and rushed 77 times for 328 yards and five TDs.

After having spent the past eight months focusing on tight end, Reed believes he's finally about to come into his own there.

"It's been much easier than last year," Reed said. "I only have to learn one position now, so I like it a lot. Definitely, I'm real comfortable."

Reed is expected to figure prominently in Weis' two tight-end set, which Gator players say has been efficient in camp.

"Jordan Reed is definitely a mismatch," UF quarterback John Brantley said. "Especially at the tight end position, they usually match him up with a linebacker some. And with his speed and size, that's a big mismatch sometimes. We're definitely looking forward to seeing it (in a game)."

Athleticism is the word teammates and coaches consistently use to describe Reed. He led New London (Conn.) High School to an undefeated season in 2007 and in 2008 was a finalist for the Joe Montana high school quarterback of the year award.

But when Florida's new coaching staff sat down with Reed to talk about his future?

"I chose to be a tight end," he said. "They asked me which one I wanted to play, and I told them I'd rather play tight end. I just felt like I could go further playing tight end than quarterback."

But his versatility will still be used. He's practicing at the wildcat position, and coach Will Muschamp said Reed is in line to become the No. 2 punt returner behind Chris Rainey.

"We're talking about a guy his size catching it and getting vertical on a gunner is pretty exciting," Muschamp said. "It's gone well. We put him back there and feel comfortable about it. He has great ball judgment and catches the ball extremely well. As we progress through, we'll see how much he can do with this."

Though he's no longer up for the quarterback job, Reed said having played the position pays dividends in his new role.

"It makes it much easier knowing who's covering me and how to get open," Reed said. "That's helped me a lot, learning to read coverages, seeing how the safeties rotate, and it makes it easier for me to get open and find out where the zones are and things like that. I feel like I've worked hard this offseason with my routes and blocking, so I think I'm going to help the team out a lot."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com. Follow her coverage at gators.tampabay.com.

Versatile Jordan Reed emerges as Florida Gators' top option at tight end 08/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 19, 2011 8:43pm]
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