Fulwood ready for breakout year

With less than two weeks left in fall camp, the Florida coaches put the depth chart up in each position’s meeting room. Ahmad Fulwood knew he was having a good camp and competing for a starting job, but that was the moment he knew he would be on the field to open the season against Idaho.

It was a well-earned position, too. As a freshman last season, Fulwood showed his potential. He finished the year with 127 yards and one touchdown, a highlight catch against Vanderbilt. But most of his 17 catches came on short throws, and he was used more as a possession receiver.

That won’t be the only way he’s used this fall.

It was obvious from the first open practice in the fall. Fulwood transformed his body and his game, turning him into a potential game changing receiver and one of the few capable of making plays on deep balls.

"I'm ready to carry on what I left over from last season, keep the production level high, just make plays," Ahmad Fulwood said.

As the 2013 season continued, he got on the field more. That’s what helped him into the offseason. He had a good freshman year but still saw plenty of room to grow in the offseason. Combined with the 4-8 record and team’s offensive struggles, Fulwood took it on himself to get better.

"I felt like I’m a lot more comfortable than any time last year, even though I finished off kind of strong last year,” Fulwood said. “I feel like this training camp I really had to show what I could do. It was all about making the high balls, making the balls some people can't make, making those catches. I felt like I could showcase my talents in that area, and some opportunities I did and I'm glad I did."

The Gators don’t have another receiver on the roster that can do what Fulwood can. Whenever Jeff Driskel put the ball up in the air in his direction, he came down with it more often than not. It’s his body control that stood out, allowing Fulwood to hang in the air and turn his body backwards to catch a ball on his back shoulder.

He gives the Gators size they need from a pass catcher in the red zone. But those deep balls from Driskel could be a big part of what changes the offense this fall.

“He’s throwing it real well,” Fulwood said. “We’ve worked on different variations, those variations. I can’t really release them, but we’ve connected on various amounts of deep balls.”

Quinton Dunbar is the leader of the Florida receivers. The fifth-year senior has been through a lot at Florida and has the respect of the younger players at the position. When there’s a question that needs to be answered, he’s there to do it.

But it’s not a stretch to say Dunbar won’t be the teams best receiver this year. With Fulwood’s strong camp and Demarcus Robinson’s athleticism, the Gators have two sophomores that are breakout candidates this fall.

They came in with Alvin Bailey and Chris Thompson at the receiver position, a strong recruiting class at a position that needed it. But now the sophomores could be ready to take the next step and be an important part of the offense.

Fulwood doesn’t care if he’s viewed as the team’s best receiver or not, he just wants to be involved in helping the program get back to its winning ways.

"I'm just trying to make plays and help our team win,” Fulwood said. “If that means I'm go-to receiver, it does. If I'm still a No. 2, that's fine. But as long as our team is winning and we're being productive as a receiver unit, that's what matters."

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