BUDDY'S BLOG: Kyle1 to Kyle 2 Connection – And Assigning #84 Pitts the Unicorn jersey.

Updated: Aug 29

Kyle Pitts showed up for big plays in big games last year. Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

“Last year, we asked him to do everything, and I thought he did a great job. He was one of our premier playmakers on the team. Now you get into Year 3 right now, where now he knows how to run routes.” -- Dan Mullen

Dan Mullen likes to call his hybrid linebackers at the STAR position “Unicorns.” My grandkids know what this means, but I had to look it up to be sure:

A Unicorn is a mythical creature, someone amazing who is hard to catch or simply a very rare find.”

See, I think Mullen should have reserved that Unicorn love for Kyle Pitts, who could turn out to be the best tight end in America this season —“someone amazing who is hard to catch or simply a very rare find.”

Kyle Pitts won’t be hard for Kyle Trask to find. He's got a large, familiar "84" blinking on his back and chest. And he certainly wasn’t hiding last season. The red-shirt junior from Philadelphia returns as the top receiver by a million miles with 54 catches in 2019—43 of them from Trask.

On the other hand, the Gator offense still isn’t up to speed by Mullen’s standards, ranking 29th in total offense nationally last season. Trask rated 22nd in the country passing and fourth among SEC quarterbacks in yardage. Pitts was 12th among SEC receivers.


This could be a breakout season for both Kyles. There is still much work to be done, although the two Kyles didn't get any work together Friday night. Mainly Mullen said he wants to "make sure we're ready for football when it comes." Part of that is keeping stars healthy.


By all reports -- including Mullen -- Kyle1 has shown marked improvement in his maturity as a quarterback with far better knowledge of the offense.


We've not seen No.84 work yet. In a late Friday night scrimmage, Mullen held him out. "I didn't give Pitts any reps -- I know what he can do," Mullen told the media Saturday. Translated: Unicorns should be protected from physical harm. Kyle2 had a productive scrimmage.


On Friday night, Mullen saw the evidence of team rust. He was pleased with his running backs and "the older guys," but concerned about the rust. "We haven't played football in a while, so we missed tackles, put the ball on the ground, etc," Mullen said. Mainly he said he wants to "make sure we're ready for football when it comes. We have a ways to go," he said, pointing out that the first game was just four weeks off.


This could be a breakout season for both Kyles.


By all reports -- including Mullen -- Kyle1 has shown marked improvement in his maturity as a quarterback with far better knowledge of the offense. Mullen says his QB’s ability to check in and out of plays will help make the install of the offense better and quicker and that Trask has become a stronger leader.

Kyle2 has been lighting up practices with jaw-dropping acrobatic catches. The Gator coach described the Pitts’ catch made in Tuesday practice as “ridiculous.” He gets effusive when speaking about what makes his “Athletic Dude” such a weapon.

“Obviously Kyle’s a mismatch. That’s what we want in a tight end, is a guy that creates problems all over the field,” Mullen said. “If you look at Kyle, people wonder, OK, from one year to the next … well he played a lot more flexed out his freshman year. A lot more as a receiver. It really helped him to learn to be a great receiver and a route-runner and play in space at that time.”

On Friday night, Mullen saw the evidence of team rust. He was pleased with his running backs and "the older guys," but concerned about the rust. "We haven't played football in a while, so we missed tackles, put the ball on the ground, etc," Mullen said. Mainly he said he wants to "make sure we're ready for football when it comes. We have a ways to go," he said, pointing out that the first game was just four weeks off.

“Last year, we asked him to do everything, and I thought he did a great job. He was one of our premier playmakers on the team. Now you get into Year 3 right now, where now he knows how to run routes.”

If Pitts were a baseball player they might call him The Toolbox, because he’d be a 5-tool player. He runs, he catches, he hits hard, he blocks and he creates mismatches which dictate how the other players are defended. Oh yeah, and he executes crispy, clean routes – which might be a sixth tool.

Unicornish perhaps? Much more than merely an “Athletic Dude.”

He's got the moves, the hands, the work ethic and knows how to run a route. But is Kyle Pitts a unicorn? Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

If I were Kyle Trask I’d never let Kyle Pitts out of my sight on campus, let alone on the field. Because No. 84 is the ticket to a great future for both of them, including an SEC East ride and some big NFL dollars.

We’ll no doubt see and hear about the Kyle-to-Kyle Connection, which is Mullen’s equivalent to Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance or—more era appropriate—the Gator version of Brady-to-Gronkowski. Over-hyped? Of course! But if you don’t get this, shut up, listen up and learn.

Mullen was effusive in talking about Pitts’ role. You can understand why. Just look at his numbers last season and then project what’s possible with this kind of improvement: “He’s become a much more physical point of attack blocker and he creates mismatch problems for people out there on the field.”

Let’s be honest here and point out that Pitts benefitted greatly from the wide receivers around him in ’19. Gone are five of the most reliable Gator seniors ever, taking their games to Sunday NFL level and already competing well.

Second-round pick Van Jefferson is balling out with the Rams and may start. Sixth-rounder Freddie Swain is making noise out in Seattle. Seventh-round pick Tyrie Cleveland looks like he’ll make the Denver Bronco roster if for nothing more than his high acumen and hustle on special teams. And this is not even counting Josh Hammond on the Jaguars’ roster or the early success of RB/receiver Lamical Perine with the Jets, a very productive pass-catcher.

Let’s emphasize again that 43 of those 54 team-leading catches by Pitts were from Trask – only eight from the departed Feleipe Franks and three from the rising star Emory Jones.

So yes, Kyle1 has proven he knows full well how to find his unicorn, Kyle 2. Now stir in a little magic and let’s enjoy watching…


''... someone amazing who is hard to catch or simply a very rare find.”

This just occurred to me: Maybe since Mullen has dubbed the players at STAR as the “Unicorns,” perhaps if Pitts has the year that some of us are projecting, DC Todd Grantham could “loan” that moniker to Pitts for a season in exchange. Kind of like seeing who earns the right to wear No. 1. Mullen joked about the thankless job of assigning numbers and asked if I wanted the job. "Sure," I said, but he never acknowledged my affirmative answer. First think I'd do was take a page from the NBA's jersey messaging and right above Kyle Pitts number put "Unicorn."


According to Dan Mullen, Kyle1 is learning the finer points of quarterbacking. Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

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