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Florida tight end Kyle Pitts has been a nightmare matchup for Gators' opponents

Florida TE Kyle Pitts: The most dangerous Gator matchup for Georgia

ATHENS — With all due respect to star quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Kyle Trask, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts could prove to be the most important player in Saturday’s game in Jacksonville.

The Gators’ 6-foot-6, 239-pound tight end is a matchup nightmare that no defenses has successfully solved.

The sophomore from Philadelphia has made four catches or more in each of Florida’s five SEC games, including eight against Auburn, and he reeled in 108 receiving yards on five catches against LSU.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a true 6-6, his catch radius is out of this world,” Georgia Alll-SEC safety J.R. Reed said. “So we have to be real physical and be real tight in coverage.”

The No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 SEC) expect to have their hands full with the No. 6-ranked Gators (7-1, 4-1) when the teams meet at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Pitts leads Florida in catches (35) and receiving yardage (391) this season, but he has been on Kirby Smart’s radar since he was in high school.

The Georgia head coach is bracing his defense for what figures to be a dynamic matchup.

RELATED: Georgia LB raves about Kyle Pitts

“He’s as talented as I’ve seen, and we knew that coming out of high school, we recruited him heavily, couldn’t get him, he went to the other staff,” Smart said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a matchup with his size and speed. He’s everything you want. I don’t know if the SEC has seen a tight end … I’m trying to think through the years. He’s different.”

Smart indicated Pitts compares favorably to former Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr., who was a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“He (Smith) is a good player, this guy’s bigger,” Smart said. “This guy is a good player.”

Indeed, Pitts is exactly the sort of tight end Georgia is currently looking to recruit.

But for now, the advantage lies with Florida coach Dan Mullen and the Gators at the position.

And, Mullen indicated, Pitts is only going to get better.

“It’s pretty good that he’s learning the offense,” Mullen said this week. “That’s impressive to me ’cause we asked the tight ends to do a bunch. You look within our system, as a tight end, you’ve got to be able to block, you’ve got to be able to catch, you need to go play receiver, you’ll play H-back, you’ll play on-the-ball tight end.

“The only type of people, really offenses, that use the tight ends that way you’re going to watch the Patriots from a couple of years ago with (Rob) Gronkowski, that style offense.”

If Pitts goes off on Saturday he wouldn’t be the first tight end to give Georgia’s defense fits.

Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet had 9 catches for 108 yards and a TD against the Bulldogs.

“The tight end at Notre Dame was a big old physical guy and a great player,” Smart said. “This guy (Pitts) is 50 percent wideout, 50 percent tight end. He’s a great player.”

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