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Monday September 10, 2012Jordan Reed still evolving as a tight end, but early returns are promising

Updated: 6:04pm, September 10

ReedGAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The question to Will Muschamp on Monday was about junior Jordan Reed and whether the tight end who came to Florida from Connecticut as a quarterback had shown any improvement since his position switch last season.

“Last year was his first year playing tight end ever -- and we all wanted him to be Bavaro running around out there,” Muschamp said.

As in Mark Bavaro.  

The coach saw a curious look on the young reporter’s face.

“Do you not know who he is? Did you ever watch the ’86 Giants?” he asked. “That’s very disappointing.”

Muschamp was not comparing Reed to the NFL All-Pro. The point was despite the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Reed’s obvious gifts as an athlete and the fact he played tight end last year, he’s still in something of a transition period when it comes to a new position -- and now he's in a new offense.

The early results, though, are promising.

Reed caught 28 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns last season, and thus far in 2012 leads the team in receptions (8) and yards (92).

He has yet, however, to have a real breakout moment like, say, Bavaro during that memorable ‘Monday Night Football” showdown between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

Check it out below.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that moment came Saturday when the No. 17 Gators (2-0, 1-0) face No. 23 Tennessee (2-0, 0-0) at Neyland Stadium.   

“I know we all think that because Rivals put 48 stars by their name they’re supposed to just be an outstanding football player the moment they walk on campus,” Muschamp said. “It’s not ‘Add water/Instant player.’ It’s not. It takes a process to become a good player, and just because you’re a great athlete doesn’t mean you’re going to be a really good football player. Sometimes it takes time.”

There’s an evolution to the process and for Reed it was slowed at times last season due to injury, yet he still managed to flash signs that he could develop into an effective weapon in the passing game.

In Saturday’s win at Texas A&M, Reed led all UF receivers with five catches -- he’s been  targeted eight times this season and caught every ball thrown his way -- including a terrific catch-and-run play on the sideline for 30 yards to set up a key Caleb Sturgis field goal near the end of the first half.

“He developed more toughness in the offseason. He got stronger, so he’s better at the point of attack as far as blocking is concerned,” Muschamp said. “Again, this is his second year of playing the tight end position, so the natural process is your first year, you do however you do and improve a little bit or a lot based on your dedication in the offseason.”

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