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The UVa tight end played only eight snaps against Tech.
The Roanoke Times | File
Virginia tight end Jake McGee played only eight snaps against Virginia Tech.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
How many college football players ever could say they caught game-winning touchdown passes in the same season against Penn State and Miami?
That’s an accomplishment Virginia tight end Jake McGee isn’t likely to forget.
Something else that’s unforgettable about his 2012 season:
In the Cavaliers’ season-ending 17-14 loss at Virginia Tech, McGee was on the field for eight offensive snaps.
“That was tough,” said McGee, a fourth-year junior from Richmond. “That’s sort of in the past now. But, it’s something, as a competitor, you don’t forget about.
“You want to prove that you deserved to be out there.”
The Cavaliers had 56 offensive plays at Tech, compared to 95 for the Hokies, but senior tight ends Colter Phillips and Paul Freedman were on the field for 32 and 27 snaps, respectively.
Throughout the season, Phillips (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) and Freedman (6-6, 255) would be on the field at the same time in short-yardage situations. McGee (6-5, 235) was the odd man out.
Shawn Moore was the tight ends coach at the time. With his departure, new associate head coach for offense Tom O’Brien was put in charge of the tight ends.
He didn’t like what he saw in the spring.
“There’s not a tight end here who has played with his hand on the ground,” O’Brien said in a March interview. “We need to find a guy who can be a blocking tight end and a receiving tight end.”
At that point, O’Brien said he hadn’t seen enough to form an opinion of McGee, who had a 10 a.m. class that prevented him from attending the last 40 minutes of practice.
“I don’t think he was a big fan of that,” McGee said.
Coordinating class and practice schedules is just one of the tasks that O’Brien has taken on.
“It’s tough because some classes are only offered in the morning,” McGee said. “It’s just a couple different majors where there’s nothing you can do about it. It could be a specialty class where only one teacher can teach it.”
With Phillips and Freedman out of eligibility, McGee had to know he would get increased playing time in 2013, but his ability to be an every-down tight end was still in question.
That was why McGee tweeted almost gleefully this summer when he hit 241 pounds.
“I was going to send an update but I just let it go,” said McGee, who later advised reporters that he was up to 250 pounds by Aug. 2, UVa’s preseason media day. “I had trouble last season keeping [weight] on but I’ve gone to a different sort of diet.
“I’ve just been eating a lot more. I give a lot of credit to [O’Brien] for telling me what it’s going to take if I want more than just a couple years of football.”
McGee said he tries to eat four meals a day.
“I don’t like giant meals,” he continued. “I don’t do well with a huge plate. A breakfast, two lunches and a dinner is what I try to eat. I like how I feel [at 250]. If I can stay there, it’ll be a good thing.”
McGee, who played quarterback at the Collegiate School, weighed 205 when he arrived at UVa in the summer of 2010. His new position coach, O’Brien, coached another former Collegiate quarterback, Russell Wilson, at N.C. State.
O’Brien can be a needler.
“I find his sarcasm funny,” McGee said, “but I don’t joke much with him. It’s an all-business approach on the field.”
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