Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks after leaving last weekend’s win over Georgia following a helmet-to-helmet hit from Georgia’s Lewis Cine, Florida coach Dan Mullen told SEC Network Monday morning.
Dan Mullen just now on #SECThisMorning told us that TE Kyle Pitts will be questionable for the Gators game vs Arkansas this weekend.— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) November 9, 2020
Pitts took a shot from Cine midway through the second quarter of Florida’s 44-28 win, and stayed down on the field for a considerable length of time before walking to the sideline with assistance. (Cine would be flagged for targeting and ejected.) He would leave the field for the locker room before halftime and did not return to the game, though a report from CBS’s Jamie Erdahl shortly after halftime did not specify his injury.
Mullen not specifying Pitts’s injury to a media outlet is also in keeping with his policy on potential absences in 2020: To avoid revealing Florida players’ status in regards to COVID-19 infection or exposure, he has cut down on the details of specific injuries unless they are likely to be lasting.
For Pitts, the most likely injury is probably a concussion, which presents a possible waiting game for the Gators. While symptoms from concussions do sometimes clear up within a week, and athletes can and do pass the tests in even the more stringent concussion protocols adopted in recent years remarkably quickly after injury, the CDC warns that “for some, symptoms will last for a month or more.”
Update, 9:00 p.m.: In Mullen’s weekly meeting with Florida beat reporters Monday afternoon, he confirmed that Pitts suffered a concussion.
Given that Pitts is universally regarded as a first-round pick — perhaps even a top-10 selection — in the 2021 NFL Draft, should he forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility and declare for it after this season, taking any chances with his health now could jeopardize many millions of dollars in the future.
Pitts is undeniably a crucial piece of Florida’s offense — he’s poised for All-American honors, and Florida scored just six points in the second half against Georgia without him to catch passes or draw defenders. But it is also reasonable to believe that the Gators could beat Arkansas without him, despite the Razorbacks being much better than expected under first-year head coach Sam Pittman. Erring on the side of caution makes plenty of sense for the Gators in this situation, especially if it means eventually getting Pitts back at full strength.
Mullen is likely to provide updates on Pitts’s condition as the week goes on.