We kick off the third of GatorMaven's 21-part series scouting Florida's early signing class by taking a look at tight end Jonathan Odom.
Odom, a legacy signing who's father, Jason, played offensive tackle for Florida in the 1990s, is a two-way tight end out of Jesuit High School in Tampa, FL. Standing at 6-6, 235 lbs., Odom is a versatile prospect who could play multiple roles in Florida's offense.
He tallied 36 receptions for 493 yards and 11 touchdowns in just under two and a half varsity seasons before a shoulder injury derailed his senior year.
Let's get to the scouting report.
In 2019, Florida enjoyed the emergence of Kyle Pitts at the tight end position. As a sophomore, Pitts ranked fifth in receptions, eighth in yards, and fifth in touchdowns among all tight ends in college football.
Florida has a legitimate receiving threat in Pitts following his breakout year and entering 2020. But what the Gators were missing at tight end was a threatening blocker.
Odom can become that at Florida.
His length matches that of an offensive tackle, and he has room to add more weight in order to take on SEC defensive linemen. Odom is aggressive in his blocks, never pulling up until the whistle blows.
In an interview with GatorMaven previously, Odom spoke of his polish as a blocker. He takes pride in his hand usage, quick to land an initial punch out if his stance to control the leverage battle at the line of scrimmage. You can see that in the clip above.
Packing a low center of gravity, Odom often out-leverages defenders in his block, which is impressive given his height. Pairing these skills and traits with extreme physicality, Odom could earn himself playing time as a freshman as a blocker.
It runs in his blood: Jason Odom was a four-year starter on Florida's offensive line and a fourth round NFL Draft pick, playing offensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Given the length that Odom provides, not only can he win with an impressive extension in his blocks, but it makes him a threatening receiving weapon as well.
Odom isn't the craziest athlete. He isn't going to become some dynamic route runner who can separate from SEC defensive backs at will, like Pitts. But provided his length, excellent concentration while the ball is in the air, and precise timing in his high-pointing, Odom projects to serve the passing game as a contested-catch receiver extraordinaire.
Good luck beating a 6-6 receiver with long arms in a one-on-one jump ball. It just isn't happening.
While it won't be the case all over the route tree, there will be routes that Odom can perfect his footwork on in order to separate. The corner route being one, a route that Odom prefers to run.
He explodes out of his stance at the line before the linebackers can react to get a hand on him, as they keep their eyes in the backfield watching the play-action fake. Odom rounds the break of this corner route, which he will have to sharpen at the next level in order to beat college safeties, but no matter on this rep - he glides by the safety and scores a redzone touchdown. Expect to see him run this route successfully at Florida, in time.
Another key aspect of Odom's game is his positional versatility, which will allow Gators head coach Dan Mullen to get creative with his usage as he earns playing time.
Odom has played the traditional in-line tight end role, lined up in the backfield and behind the tackles as an H-back, and as a receiver - both in the slot and outside. It's something that Odom is proud of, and he believes it will translate to the next level.
"I love the way Coach Mullen uses the tight end in his offense," Odom told GatorMaven. "He’s used the TE in a very versatile way, which is exactly how I see myself being used and ultimately why I chose Florida. Coach Mullen bases his offense off of matchups and that’s exactly how I want to be used."
"I really feel comfortable anywhere on the field. In my film, you probably see that I played all three of those positions throughout the years. I really feel the perks come once you’re able to play all three because then you can be used in a very versatile way. You can be put all over the field and do many different things."
Florida mainly lined tight ends up in-line or outside as a receiver in 2019, but rarely used an H-back. Over time, it will be interesting to see if Mullen decides to implement an H-back role more consistently for Odom, and where else he plans on playing the young tight end.
In Jonathan Odom, the Gators are getting en extremely high-floor tight end prospect who, at worst, will be a serviceable blocker within the offensive scheme and should be able to help resurrect Florida's run game.
But don't sleep on his abilities as a receiver. No, he may not be the fastest guy on the field or have all of the receiver nuances down, but he does move well for his size and there is obvious room for him to grow within his receiving techniques, given his intangibles.
There will be a role for Odom as a pass catcher, it just might come later as he should earn blocking reps early in his career at Florida. Assuming he's fully recovered and suffers no setbacks from his injury, perhaps those reps could come as a freshman.