Billy Napier thought he had plenty of tight end depth coming into the spring, but it turns out that the Florida Gators aren’t quite as loaded at the position as originally thought.
Redshirt freshman Nick Elksnis and sophomore Jonathan Odom are out for the rest of the spring, according to a report from 247Sports. Elksnis is dealing with a broken shoulder blade and Odom has a torn labrum. Both players could feasibly return to action before the season, but missing spring practices will hurt when it comes to learning the new scheme.
Senior Keon Zipperer is the presumed starter after appearing in all 13 of Florida’s games last season, but he only brought in 11 passes on the year. Zipperer is healthy and currently the only scholarship tight end at practices. Redshirt freshman Gage Wilcox was missing from practices last week, which means the next man up is senior Dante Zanders who recently switched back to tight end from defensive end.
Zanders actually was recruited as a three-star tight end out of high school, so the position isn’t foreign to him by any means. Walk-on junior linebacker Noah Keeter has also worked with the group in recent weeks.
Florida did sign three players in the 2022 class that should add some depth once they get on campus over the summer. Four-star Tony Livingston was originally listed as an offensive tackle, but Napier said the team would be utilizing him at tight end. Four-star athlete Arlis Boardingham is a tight-end/receiver hybrid that has the size to play early in the SEC, and three-star Hayden Hansen rounds out the group.
Injuries won’t keep Elksnis and Odom out forever, but the Gators are stretched pretty thin right now at tight end. Napier’s even decided to take a look at some of the recruits in the class of 2023 after initially planning on going without a tight end commit in the…