Looking ahead to the 2013 season, the University of Florida appears to lack any proven depth at tight end. On the roster now are junior converted defensive end Clay Burton, junior converted defensive end Tevin Westbrook, sophomore Kent Taylor and redshirt freshman Colin Thompson, who is coming off an injury. Florida hopes to have filled its tight end need for the 2014 recruiting cycle Thursday with an emerging talent who just happens to be teammates with one of the elite talents in the country.
Coming into this week, Cyontai Lewis (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge) was off the recruiting map and without any offers. On Wednesday, Mississippi State extended a scholarship, and a day later Florida came through with an offer. Just a few hours later, Lewis decided he did not want to wait and secured his spot, calling coach Will Muschamp to give him the news.
"He was pumped up," Lewis said. "He said he was going to make a commitment to me to not recruit any more tight ends as long as I commit to him that I'm going there."
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect likely had more offers headed his way soon, but he pounced on the chance to play for the Gators.
“I committed to Florida because I just feel like Florida is the place to be right now,” Lewis said. “Coach D-Lew [Derek Lewis] seems like he knows what he's doing with tight ends and I'm trying to go to the league after college and he says he knows how to get me there. And I'll be playing for a winning team, so I might as well go on and commit.”
With his size and receiving ability, the Gators’ coaching staff plan to flex Lewis outside on occasion to create mismatches against linebackers and cornerbacks.
“They want me as a hybrid tight end, where I can play on the line of scrimmage and then move out to the slot because I have good hands and good ball skills,” Lewis said.
Lewis, who had 20 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns as a junior, becomes commitment No. 8 for Florida. One of his teammates is Bo Scarbrough, an Alabama pledge who is No. 17 in the ESPN 150.
Lewis' addition reverses a string of bad news earlier in the week, when ESPN 150 linebacker Christian Miller (Spring Valley, S.C./Spring Valley) and four-star receiver Ryeshene Bronson (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar) both decommitted, dropping the Gators to No. 8 in the ESPN class rankings.