While many around the SEC and the college football world have decided to forego their final year of eligibility amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts is pressing forward, and never considered opting out in the first place.
“It’s something I never really thought of. I only was thinking about this season and how I can get better from last year to this year,” Pitts told members of the media on Wednesday via Zoom video conference.
Getting better from last year to this year would be an event in and of itself. Pitts was one of the nation's breakout players after catching 54 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 239-pound tight end made his presence felt on the gridiron, becoming an instant mismatch for the majority of linebackers and defensive backs.
Pitts spent the offseason learning the defensive side of the football, a way to perhaps give him an advantage during the season. Now, he's ready to take his game to new heights, working on his run blocking ability during the offseason, gaining weight in order to become a more complete tight end that is often coveted at the next level.
"Just to get heavier and hands inside, like stepping on my in my in-step - the balls [of] my feet - small details of my hand placement and hat placement is something that helps at the line of scrimmage.”
Becoming a complete tight end will help the junior tight end become more attractive come draft night and the new deals that have been handed out to some of the elite tight ends in the NFL today.
Over the past couple of months, both Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle signed mega-deals in the NFL, making them two of the richest tight ends in the NFL, and two of the richest offensive players in the NFL in general.
For Kittle, he signed a contract extension for five-year, $75M with Kelce signing an extension worth $57.25M over four years. Historically, tight ends aren't paid that much, and Pitts is absolutely paying attention.
"Definitely," Pitts said when asked if he paid attention to the deals Kittle and Kelce signed this year. "I watch those guys a lot. Those guys, I sit up in the office and watch with the coaches and try and critique their game and add certain pieces that they do in the game to add to my game because I see we kind of do a lot of things similar.
"But, those guys obviously - they've been in the league, and they know how to do certain things. But, seeing those contracts really just opened my eyes because years ago tight ends weren't getting those type[s] of contracts so, now that they're changing the game it's really interesting."
Pitts watches both of the elite tight ends tips, particularly noting that both players are students of the game. "They know in certain coverages, do certain things. In the run game, they put their face on people and every ball that's thrown to them, they catch it."
While it may still take some development, the progression for Pitts is clear, and he's ready for the challenge.