Photo: Florida Gators tight ends Nick Elksnis and Jonathan Odom; Credit: Alex Shepherd
It's been a tough six weeks for Florida Gators redshirt freshman tight end Nick Elksnis. Expected to surge ahead on UF's depth chart during spring practice earlier this year, Elksnis was sidelined rather quickly due to a broken scapula and missed the majority of camp.
Elksnis had positive news to share on Saturday, however, displaying quite a bit of progress in his recovery from the shoulder injury. Elksnis took to the weight room on Saturday, hitting five overhead press reps at 135 pounds.
"6 weeks ago to the day I broke my Scapula something serious," Elksnis wrote on Instagram. "Now fast forward only six weeks and I’m overhead pressing 135 for 5. While I’m nowhere near where I want to be[, I] couldn’t help but post this progress and I’ll be damned if I’m not ready to go to war with my team come week 1!"
When Elksnis, alongside fellow tight ends in redshirt sophomore Jonathan Odom (shoulder) and redshirt freshman Gage Wilcox (undisclosed, considered career-ending), went down with injuries in camp, Florida relied upon converted defensive players in Dante Zanders and Noah Keeter to fill in at the position in place of the three regular contributors.
At that time, senior Keon Zipperer was UF's only healthy scholarship tight end.
While Zanders and Keeter held their own, Florida is certain to be pleased with Elksnis' progress. Under new head coach Billy Napier, the Gators are expected to expand their usage of 12-personnel formations, utilizing two tight ends at a time far more often than UF has in years past.
In which case, Elksnis' health will be an important storyline to monitor once fall camp rolls around.
Elksnis, 6-foot-6, 232 pounds, possesses arguably the most potential of anyone in Florida's tight end room. A highly-coveted recruit in the class of 2021, Elksnis has the size to be an impact blocker in the run game as well as the required length and athleticism to emerge as a mismatch in the passing game, particularly in the middle of the field and down the seam.
There should be a role for Elksnis in the Gators' offense this year once he is cleared to participate. Considering he can press heavy weight less than two months removed from the injury, Elksnis appears on track to resume practicing in the fall and to compete for some playing time.
Stay tuned to AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.
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