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Tight end Jake McGee, who transferred to UF last month, led Virginia with 43 receptions last season.

Thursday June 5, 2014Gators Newcomer McGee Seeks Connection with Driskel

Tight end Jake McGee, who transferred to UF last month, led Virginia with 43 receptions last season.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Tight end Jake McGee is new to Florida’s football program, but you can tell he is a savvy veteran.

A two-year starter at Virginia, McGee earned his undergraduate degree in April and enrolled in graduate school at UF last month in search of new opportunities academically and athletically.

McGee has only one season of eligibility remaining, so he has quickly got to know quarterback Jeff Driskel. In fact, his new roommates are Driskel, punter Kyle Christy and offensive lineman Trip Thurman.

“You are always in your quarterback’s ear,’’ McGee said Thursday afternoon in his first session with Florida beat reporters. “If he needs a ride, I won’t know where I’m going but I’ll take him where he needs to go.”

A 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end who led the Cavaliers with 43 receptions for 395 yards last season, McGee’s schedule is loaded with classes, offseason workouts and lots of new faces.

Driskel is helping McGee learn first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's system that was installed during spring practice. McGee was familiar with Roper prior to coming to UF, so that has helped his transition.

While at Duke, Roper recruited McGee out of high school and they faced each other in the ACC.

“A school I reached out to and it just seemed to be a pretty good fit,’’ McGee said of his decision to come to Florida. “It was an offense I haven’t played in, but I was familiar with – what they do and how they use the tight ends all sorts of ways.”

McGee caught 71 passes for 769 yards and seven touchdowns the past two seasons at Virginia. He caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Virginia’s win over Miami in 2012 and proved very efficient at making big plays on third down.

According to his Virginia bio, 26 of McGee’s 43 receptions last season went for a first down or a touchdown, and 14 of those catches came on third-down plays.

Florida coach Will Muschamp told reporters at a Central Florida Gator Club speech last month soon after McGee’s arrival that the fifth-year senior can add a dimension the Gators lacked offensively last season following the departure of tight end Jordan Reed. 

“He's a guy that has tremendous ball skills, a very good athlete at 6-5, 245 pounds and runs extremely well,’’ Muschamp said. “I think he’s a good addition to our team, and he’ll certainly compete well.

"To be able to have a guy that defenses know they have to account for in terms of is he a receiver, is he a tight end, can he create a three-man blocking surface? That changes things in the run game. It changes things in protection and how people will attack you.”

McGee said he continues to get acclimated to his teammates and UF. He is optimistic that he can help the Gators improve following a 4-8 season.

“It was a quick transition,’’ he said. “I got down here and started class right way. The guys have been great. Relationships are starting to build and I really couldn’t ask for anymore. At this point I’m just trying to get the offense down.”

McGee said he filed an evaluation request with the NFL Draft Advisory Board and received a mid-round grade following last season. Instead of entering the draft, McGee said he wanted to work toward a graduate degree and improve as a player.

He inquired into a few schools but felt Florida was the best fit.

“The priorities were finding a great school with a great athletic program to sort of fit in,’’ he said. “Florida was the one I like most. There is a mix of both."

McGee played football, baseball and basketball at the Collegiate School in Richmond, the alma mater of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. He was a freshman when Wilson was a senior and replaced Wilson at quarterback when the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks starter signed with N.C. State out of high school.

McGee considers Wilson a friend and occasionally talks to him for advice or to catch up. The two usually see each other at Wilson’s summer football camp back home.

“It’s pretty cool just having him sort of as a friend and someone you can look up to,’’ McGee said. “He’s a guy who has sort of been through a lot and done really well with his life.”

Right now, Driskel is the quarterback McGee is most interested in building a connection with.

 

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