New additions at tight end may take time to integrate into UGA offense
Georgia made some high profile additions at the tight end position this offseason to bolster the talent at the position.
First, the Bulldogs secured the signature of 5-star tight end Darnell Washington out of Las Vegas. In a room full of large humans, Washington still manages to stand out due to his 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame.
Then it brought in Florida State graduate transfer Tre’ McKitty. Unlike the rest of Georgia’s tight ends, McKitty has meaningful experience, catching 49 passes over the past two seasons.
The rest of the room has just a single college catch.
“He’s a great competitor, he’s strong and fast,” tight end John FitzPatrick said. “You can tell he’s had previous experience, he handles his own well and he can move people. All great attributes to be a tight end here.”
Because of those additions, along with another year of FitzPatrick, Ryland Goede and Brett Seither, there’s reason to be excited about the tight end position. But it might be wise to temper those expectations to start the season.
For Washington, it’s easy to see given he’s only a freshman. He also had an offseason surgery to clean a knee injury he sustained in high school.
Then during camp, McKitty sustained a knee injury during Georgia’s second scrimmage that has cast doubt over whether or not he’ll be able to play in the season-opener against Arkansas.
With that being the case, Georgia will likely turn to FitzPatrick as the first option at tight end when the Bulldogs open the season against Arkansas on Sept. 26.
“My strength and speed. Coach Sinclair has helped me a ton,” FitzPatrick said on what improvements he’s made to his game. “I feel strong, I’ve gained more weight. I’m excited to play.”
The redshirt sophomore also gave credit to the veteran McKitty in helping him this offseason. In his last season at Florida State, McKitty caught 23 passes a season ago.
That’s the same number of passes FitzPatrick, Elif Wolf and Charlie Woerner caught last year as tight ends at Georgia.
“Certain tips he’s taught me are in route running,” FitzPatrick said. “At the top of my route, working my hands and coming out of my breaks, certain footwork. It goes back to those smaller details that you keep looking at to refine your game and perfect it.”
Prior to sustaining the knee injury, Georgia coach Kirby Smart had spoken highly of what McKitty and Washington had brought to the position group.
“I’ve been really pleased with Tre’ McKitty,” Smart said. “He’s tough, he’s physical, he works, he blocks, he catches, he does a good job.”
To go along with the new tight ends, Georgia also has a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken. FitzPatrick did not reveal or indicate a heavier involvement for Georgia’s tight ends now that James Coley is no longer calling plays.
FitzPatrick indicated that the group will be ready to go, whenever their number is called.
That might be more frequent later in the season when Washington gets acclimated and McKitty gets healthy. In the meantime, FitzPatrick will hold down the fort.
Georgia football tight end John FitzPatrick shares insight on Tre’ McKitty, John FitzPatrick
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