Florida Gators fans will always remember tight end, Kyle Pitts. The 2020 John Mackey award winner will likely be a top 10 pick and is my No. 1 player in the 2021 NFL Draft. Pitts was exceptional, and replacing him sounds impossible, but all signs point towards LSU transfer Arik Gilbert filling that void.
Gilbert, who was the No. 1 tight end coming out of high school, was the first tight end to ever win the Gatorade Player of the Year award. He was also arguably the greatest tight end prospect ever out of high school. The dominant high school force committed to LSU and played his 2020 freshman season there.
Gilbert played in eight games, catching 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns before deciding to opt-out of the rest of the 2020 season. After opting out, Gilbert entered the transfer portal and ultimately decided to take his talents to Gainesville.
This was one of the smartest decisions Gilbert has ever made, as tight ends coach Tim Brewster helped progress Pitts into being one of the greatest tight end prospects ever. Brewster will get the most out of Gilbert’s elite abilities and help him become the best tight end he can be.
Florida’s tight end room is loaded with talent, but once Gilbert arrives on campus, he will be the best one on Day 1. It will take him some time to learn the playbook and get comfortable on his new team, but Head Coach Dan Mullen will be able to utilize Gilbert right away, and there is no doubt in my mind he will become a star.
Look for Florida to get creative with how they use Gilbert, too, as Pitts has the same athletic profile. He is a massive kid, standing at 6-5 and weighing 250 pounds. Even with his massive size, Gilbert, like Pitts, moves like a wide receiver.
He can run great routes and make anyone covering him look silly. He is a mismatch nightmare, and Mullen and the Gators can line him up all over the field. Along with being a weapon, he is also a safety valve. According to David Waters of Gators Breakdown, 24 of Gilbert’s 35 receptions resulted in either a 1st down or touchdown. And of those 24, 11 came on 3rd or 4th down.
Gilbert, who just turned 19 on February 22, will not be as great as Pitts was right away. He will still need time to develop, but Florida is the best place for that to happen. That needs to be said and understood by Gators fans. However, he has the potential to get close to Pitts’ level. Regardless, Gilbert is poised to be the next superstar tight end in Florida.