ATHENS — Tre’ McKitty has put on a show at the Senior Bowl from the time of Tuesday’s weigh-ins when his outstretched hand had measured an impressive 11 inches wide from end of pinky to end of thumb.
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McKitty showed everyone just what those mitts could do when he made what’s being called the catch of Senior Bowl week on a pass from Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
It’s even more important for McKitty, who observers are insisting must have been underutilized at Georgia, where the Florida State graduate transfer had just 6 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown last season.
McKitty caught 50 passes for 520 yards and two touchdowns in 35 games with the Seminoles the previous three seasons.
What many don’t realize is that McKitty didn’t play the first two games of the season for the Bulldogs after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his knee following a preseason scrimmage injury.
Kirby Smart had been impressed with McKitty throughout fall camp and said as much.
“I have been really pleased with Tre’ McKitty,” Smart said back in August. “He is tough. He’s physical. He works. He blocks. He catches. He does a good job.”
Former UGA coach Mark Richt had predicted good things for McKitty at UGA after trying to recruit him to Miami.
“When we recruited McKitty at Miami, we thought he was a great player,” Richt told DawgNation last year in New Orleans while broadcasting with the ACC Network.
“McKitty has got good ball skills, and he’s probably a better receiver than a blocker. But he’s a willing blocker, and he’s definitely a guy who can play.”
Georgia’s well-documented quarterback issues the first half of last season slowed the use of the tight ends.
It wasn’t until JT Daniels took over as UGA’s starting quarterback the final four games that tight end usage increased dramatically.
McKitty, after not getting a catch in games with Kentucky and Florida, caught a pass for 5 yards in Daniels’ first start against Mississippi State, and then he had two more receptions for 46 yards the next game against South Carolina.
UGA freshman tight end Darnell Washington benefitted greatly from Daniels’ ability to get through progressions the next two games with five catches.
McKitty, like four of the other five UGA players at the Senior Bowl, opted out of the final game of the season at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy saw McKitty’s success coming, predicting as much last week.
“I expect Tre to have a big week and burst on the scene,” Nagy said in an exclusive Zoom chat with DawgNation. “He’s really athletic, he has the size to play at the line of scrimmage, for a big guy he can drop his weight and create separation, and he’s good after the catch.
“To me, the guy is really talented, so I can’t wait to get him down here during the week, and I know that Panthers staff is chomping at the bit to work with him.”
The Carolina Panthers staff is overseeing the SEC-heavy “American” team while the Miami Dolphins’ staff is coaching the “National” team.
The Senior Bowl game takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Hancock Whitney Stadium, which is also serving as the site of the practices.
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