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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Pitts immortalized outside The Swamp

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts had his brick unveiled outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Thursday

Kyle Pitts' brick outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Kyle Pitts' brick outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

April will be bookmarked by big moments for Kyle Pitts.

Pitts will end the month with his name called early on April 29, possibly during the first round of the NFL draft. But he began the month immortalized on the UF campus.

Florida bestowed the honor Thursday and unveiled his brick outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It is the first brick to be put down since cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III’s in 2015. 

The tight end became the first Gator to receive unanimous first team All-American honors since Hargreaves. His dominant 2020 campaign featured 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games. He took home the John Mackey Award, which is given each year to the nation’s best tight end.

Pitts’ season numbers don’t tell the whole story of his remarkable 2020 season. Pitts possibly had the greatest season of any  tight end in college football history. His 12 touchdowns were the second-most by a tight end in SEC history and trailed only Vanderbilt’s Allama Matthews, who scored 14 in 1982. He had three games that exceeded 100 receiving yards, the first tight end in Florida history and eighth to do that in the last five years.

The Philadelphia nativealso became the first tight end Biletnikoff Award finalist, which honors the nation’s top receiver. He joins Jabar Gaffney (2001), Jacquez Green (1997), Reidel Anthony (1996) and Jack Johnson (1994) as the only Gator finalists for the award.

While the brick will forever stay in Gainesville, Pitts is moving on. The football world expects Pitts to be drafted in the top 10 of this month’s NFL Draft, and the tight end has done nothing to make them question their claims. 

At Florida’s Pro Day Wednesday, Pitts ran a blazing 4.44 40-yard dash and measured in at 6 feet, 6 inches tall, 246 pounds and an 83-and-3/8ths wingspan. For comparison, former All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall, 239 pounds and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. Pitts boasts the title of the highest-graded tight end ever scouted by ESPN’s draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

Pitts is a unicorn. A rare combination of size, speed and skill. The tight end may light up the NFL.

However, his legacy lives on in The Swamp, and his name will be forever linked to the Gators football program.

Contact Michael Hull at mhull@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33

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