On the surface, it's easy to suggest that the Florida Gators will become a run-first offense behind the leadership of dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones. While many see Jones as a runner first and a passer second, that's not the way Florida tight end Kemore Gamble sees it, not at all.
“It’s just installation," Gamble said of the team's new offense this year. "Emory still can throw the ball, can throw the ball very well. He’s not just a runner. To me, I think Emory's a pass-first quarterback. That’s what I think.”
Jones has been through the wringer as the team's backup quarterback. He's waited now four years to get an opportunity to start, and when he played, he was used primarily as a runner. While that may be one of his best traits, it doesn't illustrate just how much the team as a whole believes in Jones' ability as a passer.
"He's got a cannon for an arm. I mean he's got a cannon for an arm, so I don't know who would say that, I guess," Florida head coach Dan Mullen said on Monday in response to a question regarding criticism of Jones' ability to pass the football.
"Maybe there's somebody out at practice, watching practice that's more expertise at quarterback than me that's letting you know those things, but I'm pretty confident in what he can do."
Florida is certainly confident in what Jones can do, and Gamble knows that what Jones provides will allow him to succeed. While following in the footsteps of former Florida tight end Kyle Pitts will be difficult, the redshirt senior right end is not comparing himself to his former teammate, instead, wanting to be thought of as just himself.
"There’s only one Kyle Pitts and there’s only one Kemore Gamble. I do things that I am good at. He does things that he’s good at and I do things that I’m good at.”
In an impressive tight end room, Gamble has been working on a lot during the offseason and into next year, particularly his run-blocking ability. While he has plenty of capability as a pass-catcher, the other part of his game is still something he's had to work on, as noted by Gators TE coach Tim Brewster last week.
"I like to finesse people and I say my strength is the passing game," said Gamble. "I need to work on my running game still, getting more power, and get tougher when I’m blocking. That’s what I think my weakness is right now. That’s what I’ve been working on.”
As the veteran among the group, Gamble has seen the early enrollees grow this spring, including one of his own in tight end Nick Elksnis. Elksnis enrolled at Florida as a freshman out of Jacksonville (Fla.) and is expected to have a role in the team's offense sooner rather than later.
According to Gamble, the young "country boy" tight end has already impressed.
“Nick, he’s a tough guy. He makes every catch, he’s learning fast, he’s like a freshman that comes in and he already knows everything," Gamble said of Elksnis.
It will be interesting to see how Florida truly implements its new offense with Jones at the helm and with a new group of tight ends leading the pack. One thing's for certain, however, and that is Gamble believes in the offense, and Jones for this season.
"To me, I think Emory's a pass-first quarterback. That’s what I think.”