Florida Gators Tight End Coach Tim Brewster arrived in February to take over one of the country's deepest units at the position. Due to COVID-19, he's been unable to fully introduced himself until now. On Wednesday, he met with local media (virtually) to give insight into his background, detail what he wants out of his unit in the future, and brag on his guys, led by Kyle Pitts.
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"Hey guys , hope everybody's doing good. Everybody hanging in there with this pandemic? Good, good, I know there's a lot of great writers out there, friends of mine that this pandemic hasn't been good to, and I hope everybody is doing well, hanging in there. It's just, it's been a tough time I know, for a lot of really good writers, a lot of really good people."
What led you to come to UF and what do you bring to the program?
"Well Edgar, you know I'm thrilled to death, first and foremost I'm thrilled to death to be here. I think it all starts with my admiration for Dan Mullen. I was with him in 2012 at Mississippi State, and I just admire the guy. I admire how he coaches, I admire his work ethic, I admire his aptitude for the game of football. I haven't been around a guy that truly, absolutely loves the game like Dan does. I think that's what I'm about, I'm about positivity and love of the game. But again I've had the opportunity to work with some great head coaches, I worked with Mike Shanahan, I've worked with Marty Schottenheimer, I've been around some really good guys, and I just think Dan is, I think he's a special guy in our profession, I really do. He's one of the few guys that could call every offensive play, I think he can call every defensive play, and certainly run the kicking game as well. So, and obviously I know a lot about the Gators from my time spent at Florida State. I've always had a little bit of a thing about the University of Florida Gators, I was very fortunate when Dan decided to call me and ask me whether or not I'd be interested in coming to the University of Florida and coaching his tight ends, and it didn't take me long to say yes."
What makes you a strong recruiter?
“I love people. I love people, I love the relationships that you make throughout the course of recruiting. I love going into different situations, I feel like I can go into any situation and really do a good job of connecting with kids. And I think that's what it's all about, I think it's your ability to build relationships, connect with kids. We have an amazing product to sell here at the University of Florida. I mean, when I call a kid up and I can tell him 'I'm the only coach in American that could tell you that we're top ten in football and top ten in academics.' that's strong stuff man, you know? Beautiful stadium, beautiful campus. Gator Nation. Tremendous leadership here at the University of Florida. I just think that there's so many things that you can sell, and it's not a hard sell, but you know what? You've got to enjoy what you're doing. And I don't enjoy what I do, I love what I do. I'm fired up. Every morning, I wake up at 4:30 in the morning, and I get on my jog and do my thing, and I couldn't be more excited about representing the University of Florida, and going about my job here. And just, you know, you can probably tell I'm excited to be here."
Can you evaluate Florida’s talent at tight end position?
“I just think we’re blessed. We’re very, very fortunate to have a guy like Kyle Pitts. I coached a bunch of really good tight ends, had the pleasure of helping development Antonio Gates. And the thing about Kyle Pitts that I absolutely love is this guy’s a tough guy. I mean, this guy’s a hard-nosed, physical, tough guy. He has embraced the mentality that I’m bringing to the room, truly trying to be a true three-down tight end, a guy that can block people on first and second down, a guy that can go make big-time, third-down catches. There’s nothing that this guy can’t do now. I’m going to tell you what: there’s talk about him being a big wide receiver, this and that. I’m going to tell you: this guy is a complete guy. He’s had an amazing training camp. Each day he’s working his tail off. Again, like I said, truly embracing being a physical football player. I think if I had one adjective to describe Kyle Pitts right now, this is a tough guy, man. He’s a tough-minded guy, a physical guy. There’s nothing not to like about him. I’ve been thrilled to death with Kemore Gamble. Kemore Gamble has come leaps and bounds. Keon Zipperer’s done a really night job. Jonathan Odom, my true freshman, OK, he’s coming off of a surgery. But I’m going to tell what: this young guy’s going to be a heck of a player. I’m excited every day when I wake up. I got to the tight end room, I’m around great kids and really talented football players. And make no mistake about it, I’m extremely demanding on these guys. I coach them extremely hard on the field. It’s all about the details, OK. It’s all about the details in everything we do, and these guys have all embraced that mentality and it makes my job easy. But I’m going to tell you what guys: I’d be hard-pressed to think that there’s a much better tight end room somewhere in the country than what I’ve got here at the University of Florida with the development Kemore has just … I can’t say enough about him, how he’s coming on. Pitts is Pitts, you know. Zip is, again, he’s making strides. I think we’re going to be in great shape as we move forward here.”
How difficult to evaluate and recruit this year when some high school seniors won't have a season?
“That’s a great question. It really has made our jobs a little bit harder, but coach Mullen does such great job of staying ahead of the curve in the evaluations. So obviously the 2021 class is fairly far down the road and we’re really in the 2022 kids. We may not get a chance to see them as much. But I think we’ve got a great grasp of who we’re looking at, particularly in the state of Florida. It’s all about us impacting the state of Florida, making sure everybody in the state of Florida knows that this is the University of Florida. This is about the Gators, and I think we got a great opportunity to go out and play some people across the country are not playing, we’re playing. You know, I say this about recruiting, I do it 24-7-365. The minute you stop recruiting, the minute you’re behind somebody, and I don’t like to be behind in recruiting. I like to stay ahead of it. Again, we have a head football coach in all areas has done a great job. He’s a heck of a recruiter. He’s obviously a great football coach, and that’s where it all starts. If your boss, your leader loves those aspects, you got a really good chance. And I’m going to tell you what: the staff that Dan has put together at the University of Florida, I think is an outstanding staff. Veteran guys, guys who have been there and done it, they’ve been in the heat of the SEC recruiting battles, know what it’s all about. And again, I think we have such an amazing product to sell here at the University of Florida I don’t think it’s hard as long as you just get out. And, Demetrius to your point, the evaluation piece to recruiting is absolutely huge because so many guys, so many kids want to come to Florida. You have to make sure we’re getting the right ones. We’re getting the absolutely elite players in the state of Florida first and foremost, and then outside the state where we choose to go.”
What do you consider home, you’re a complete mercenary?
“Mark, thank you, I mean, hey a lot of people have asked … you know, I’ve been so blessed. I’ve had the opportunity to work in great programs and work for great people. I spent nine years at the University, 10 years, at the University of North Carolina. I had a five-year run at Florida State. And then Jimbo (Fisher) decided to take the Texas A&M job. I went there, and then I went back with Mack (Brown) for a year. So, I’d like to think I’m good at what I do and I told Scott Stricklin I’m going to stay as long as Dan will have me, you know, I’d like to stay at the University of Florida for a good stretch and win some national championships and truly be part of something special here. Like I said, I’ve been, my time in the NFL with Mike Shanahan and Marty Schottenheimer, you know, the opportunity to be a head football coach at the University of Minnesota, I’m a blessed man. I’m thankful for every opportunity that I’ve been given. One thing you’re going to get with me is you’re going to get a hard day’s work. I’m going to give you every ounce of what I got every day, all day. And hey, we’ll let the chips fall where they may after that.”
How do you compartmentalize being a FSU guy now that you're coaching at UF?
"Hey Mark, it was the same thing when I was at the University of Texas and then I ended up at Texas A&M. My Longhorn friends were wondering what you were doing. But there's a business piece to the job and I loved the people every place I've been. I've built great relationships with the fans every place I've been. I look forward to truly getting to know the Gator Nation here and helping the Gator Nation win another national championship, helping Dan Mullen, helping this staff. That's all I want to do. I haven't thought too much; I appreciate all the places that I've been and all the people that have been good to me. And again, like I said, I hope that when it's all said and done that people say about Tim Brewster, 'He gave everything he had. He gave you every ounce of what he's got.'"
What was it like meeting Kyle Pitts after hearing about him; he seems quiet to use off the field.
"Sure, Nick. He's a great young man. Obviously he's been raised by a wonderful mother and father. He's got a great family. He's a well-mannered kid and he likes to have fun. I'm sure that with the press, with the media he's somewhat reserved, but we have a great time in the meeting room. He does a great job of mentoring the young guys. Mentoring the other tight ends in the room. My whole thing, OK, about being successful as a player at this level is being a student of the game, is truly being a student of the game. Write it, if you want to learn, write it down. Kyle, again, has really embraced that. He meets with the other tight ends during off times. He's just being a, he's being a team—I mean I'm just so impressed with all facets of this kid, I just think he's poised to have an amazing year. But again, it goes back to he's as good a person as he is player. You love being around the kid, I love having him in my meeting room, I love having him out to my house. I wish we didn't have this pandemic so I could spend more time with the kids out at my house and really building that relationship, that trust. Because coaching, it's all about trust. OK? If players know you genuinely care about them, they're going to give you their heart and soul. If they don't think you genuinely care about them, you're whistling in the wind. It's not going to work. But with Pitts, guys, I could sit here and talk to you for a long time. He's as good a route-runner. … I mean I'm talking about the ability to stick his foot in the ground and create immediate separation, his ability to stretch the, take the top off of defenses, run option routes. He has a great feel for the game, and he's one of them guys that I can teach him, I can teach him in the meeting room and he takes it right to the field and he doesn't need a walk-through. Football makes sense to Kyle Pitts, and that's the thing you ask as a coach, you ask as these kids, is does football truly make sense to them? And with Kyle it certainly does."
Is there room for a younger guy in the offense in H-back role or different packages?
"Absolutely. This offense is a dream come true for tight ends. It's a dream come true for tight ends. We can play with two tight ends. We can play with three tight ends. It's the thing I was so excited about to come to the University of Florida and get back with Dan in this offensive philosophy, in this offensive system. Absolutely Keon Zipperer is going to have a role in this offense and he's going to grow and develop as a player this season and he's got some older guys like Kemore Gamble and Kyle Pitts that he can really watch. Because I've always said this: The greatest teachers of the game of football are not necessarily coaches, they're players. They're players. I tell Jonathan Odom to stand back and watch every single movement, mannerism, everything Kyle Pitts does, I told him to emulate. You just do what he does. And Zipp is a hard-nosed, physical guy. Can line up in the backfield and go butt you in the mouth. He's got good hands. I'm really pleased with, and there will definitely be a role for a young guy like him."
Did anything about Kyle Pitts surprise you?
“The biggest thing is, everyone talks about Kyle Pitts’ receiving skills. That he’s a big wide receiver, that he’s, you know? I wanted to check his whole card right out of the gate. I wanted to see when he put his hand in the dirt and run off the football and butt somebody in the mouth. That’s the thing that really to be honest with you, that has got me so excited about Kyle Pitts is how physical he is. I mean he’s a tough, hard-nosed guy, man. He’s embracing what we’re trying to do in the run game. In pass protection, his pass protection technique has improved dramatically. He’s not going to do a whole lot of pass protection, as you all know, but he’ll do some. It’s just his willingness to want to be. We look at Kittle all the time, ok. We look at Kittle from the Niners all the time. We look at Travis Kelce all the time. I’ve got all the NFL library. I’ve got all that tape and I sit down with Kyle and we study these guys and we try to grab things we think can possibly help. It goes back to his willingness to try and develop and be. Kyle’s got a goal of being the best tight end in the country this season. With his work ethic and the blessing that he has as an athlete and a player, he’s got a great opportunity to achieve that.”
Pitts lined up at WR at times, is there a chance where he works with that group compared to working with the TE group? How much do you work together?
“We’re pretty much a one-stop-shop, the tight end coach. I’ve got 34 years. I think this is my 34th year of doing this and so I feel good about the total development of the players. Billy Gonzales is a great wide receiver coach. He does a great job, but again, what I see, I see we’re obviously going to flex (Pitts) some. He’s going to be detached. He’s going to be a big part of his game is going to be an attached tight end. I think the young guys have proven that he can do all those things that he needs to do and again the challenge is being the most complete guy out there. I really think Kyle’s done a great job of that.”
You mentioned watching George Kittle with Kyle. How much does your familiarity with Shanahan’s offense give you insight on what the call was here and what the thinking was in this design?
“My experience in the National Football League with Mike Shanahan was just amazing. Coach Mullen incorporates a bunch of different facets of different things. I’ve been exposed to about everything you can be exposed to in offensive football. Dan’s philosophy is great. We’re going to be balanced. We’re going to run the ball. We’re going to throw the ball. We’re going to play-action pass. We’re going to take our shots. We’re going to have deceptive plays. It’s a very diversified offense. I think that my experience coaching in the National Football League has certainly helped me at the college level as well.”
You’re clearly a high energy guy. Very positive outlook. How much do you attribute that to your time as a car salesman and being able to get back into coaching?
“Man, I’m going to tell you what, that car salesman was not for me. I think I did it for about, I don’t know, three or four months, but I was so excited. This is my calling. I’m doing what I was supposed to do, and that’s coach football and mentor young men. That’s the thing I just love. I loved coaching in the NFL. I loved it, every second, but I missed the relationships that you have with players. And the ability to mentor a young guy and sit with him off the field and help him through some tough times and tough situations. I think I’m where I’m supposed to be, right here, right now. I’m wearing my feet off, for sure.”
You can sell a Buick you can sell a kid on a school?
“There’s no question, there’s no question. It goes back here to the University of Florida. Golly, I walk in that house and my gun is loaded. There’s no shortage of nothing for me to sell kids on about coming to this school. And first and foremost, it’s about getting a great education. And the education that Florida offers, it’s absolutely a 40 and 50-year decision. It’s not a four or five-year decision. When you totally believe in what you’re trying to sell, it makes selling a whole lot easier, I believe.”
What are your impressions of the other Kyle, Kyle Trask?
“Well, I’ve been amazingly impressed with Kyle Trask. I think this young guy right here is, again, I think he’s poised to have a great season. You’ve got Dan Mullen, you’ve got Brian Johnson coaching him. Two great quarterback guys and then when you add a work ethic like Kyle’s got. … he’s studying the game, a student of the game. He’s got a year under his belt. He’s got veteran experience now. He’s got a nice swagger about him. I like how he moves. His body language on the field is outstanding. Hey, it’s a bad play, so be it. The only play that’s important in football is the next one, is the next one. Short memories are a great attribute to have for a quarterback. Whether or not it’s good or bad. I think Kyle Trask is going to be outstanding this season. I’m just glad he’s a Gator. I’m glad I’m here with him.”
Are you aware Mike Shanahan was the first coordinator to use four WRs?
“You know, I did not know that. But you know what? It does not surprise me because Mike Shanahan loves to see that ball in the air. I thought you were going to tell me, for sure, that it was Coach Spurrier.”
People are saying a 10-game season is not a true test of football relative to a national championship. What would you say to that?
“Well, it depends on the company I was in. I would say this: We play in the toughest football conference in America, bar none. There’s no question about that. I think everybody would agree to that. We’re going to play a 10-game SEC schedule. We’re going to play an extremely challenging and extremely tough schedule. We’re going to come out of that and hopefully represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game. I think of these young guys to take this thing to the house and win ‘em all, they no question should be the national champions and be damn proud about it.”
Some might say it’s even harder to win it all:
“Now, I agree with that. A 10-game SEC schedule! We’ve got no preseason games. I mean, we jump out there on Sept. 26 against Ole Miss and … I mean, it’s going to be like the National Football League, where each week you’re running the gauntlet. OK? You’re playing a well-coached, tough, great roster on every football team in this conference. So, yeah. I would not agree at all with somebody who tried to dismiss the fact that it maybe is somewhat of a shortened season.”
Have you worked with everyone on Dan’s staff, including some defensive guys, and if you have how critical is that, especially in a year with COVID?
“Yeah, the chemistry of your staff is so vitally important. Guys that have been in the foxhole together, the chemistry and the bond you have is special. I was fortunate enough to work with most of the staff. I didn’t work with Brian Johnson or Billy Gonzales. I worked with the other guys. Worked with Knox, worked with Hevesy, I worked with David Turner on defensive side. Again, it just goes back to this staff that Dan has put together. The minds. Todd Grantham. I think he’s the best in the country. I’ve seen really good defensive coordinators, but this guy right here, he can make your life miserable. And, like I said, we’ve got great chemistry. You’re not supposed to like everybody. You may not like everybody. Zach, do you like everybody you work with? Maybe not, maybe so. The good news is that here we really do enjoy each other’s company and know we’re getting ready to travel a road less traveled. Ten SEC games. We better be together and joined at the hip because adversity is going to strike. And how you handle the tough times really determines your success. There’s nobody trying to figure out how to coach on this staff. I mean this staff is, like I said, extremely impressive and, I like guys, you know I wake up everyday and feel like today is going to be a great day. Why not? You know, why is it not going to be a great day. So when I come in the building, you know I’m smiling and I’m hoping everybody has a good day. I really am, because life’s hard. Life’s really hard, man. This pandemic stuff has been tough, you know you’ve got family issues, you’ve got all different kind of things, but I just believe at the light in the end of the tunnel and good things are going to happen to good people, and I’m, like I said, we’re all blessed I think, that this group of men, led by Dan Mullen, has got the right idea on how to do it.”
Traits for evaluating tight ends?
“One of the traits and attributes‚ I like long tight ends. I like tall tight ends. I like tight ends that are 6-4, 6-5, 6-6, even a 6-7 guy. But to really excel in this offense at the University of Florida, a guy’s got to be an athlete. I love receiver-trained guys. I love tight ends that were receiver-trained, that have excellent ball skills, that know how to stick their foot in the ground, that know how to high-point a ball. He’s got a really good skill set to begin with, and then I impose my mentality on him to teach him how to succeed in the run game. Fundamentals, footwork, first step, hat placement. But it's all about your mindset. It’s all about creating a mindset. A soft guy is gonna have problems with me, OK? That’s not gonna be a good mesh, you know? If there was one adjective that I wanted to use for my tight ends, it would be ‘one tough sucker’ and let’s build from there. But the athletic ability, the length, the size, creating matchup issues … A 6-6 245-pound guy like Kyle Pitts matched on a linebacker, matched on a safety? You wanna match him with a nickel? You wanna match him with a corner? That’s not gonna be really good for you. By formation, motion and shift in this offense, Coach Mullen is able to create the matchups that are gonna be positive for us. I just love athletic guys. If you can’t vertically stretch the defense, if you can’t take the top end off the defense as a tight end, there’s not a whole lot (pause) — You’ve got to be able to accelerate vertically, and then have the ability to drop your weight and with speed make a break and create separation. And be able to catch a ball in tight windows. That’s what football at tight end is all about, right? Catching the ball in tight windows. Using your body, muscling people, being physical.”