Josh Hammond was one of five receivers signed by the Florida Gators in the 2016 recruiting class. It is a unit that is already paying dividends with four of the five seeing the field in year one. Hammond was able to see time in all 13 last year for the Gators hauling in 14 receptions for 177 yards a nice 12.6 yard average.
Sources behind the scenes have told Fightin’ Gators that Hammond has been one of the early stars of spring of which the team has had just two practices. He’s been dynamic with ball in his hands and already shown flashes of what his brother Frankie did as a senior at Flor
Frankie was relatively quiet in his time at Florida until his last season, Josh is already on a path to be different. The older Hammond lives in Gainesville during the offseason as he trains for his NFL job and the two of course a lot, but not really much about the sport. However, Frankie is proud of his brother for the early kick start to his college career.
“He was just glad that I played as a freshman,” Josh said about his brother. “He didn’t play as a freshman, he redshirted. He was just glad that I got to play and get some playing time and some experience in my freshman year.”
The two stay away from the football talk since they get that most hours of the day. Instead they talk video games and tennis shoes, oh yeah and they both have their cravings for different foods.
For Frankie, the aforementioned donuts are the food of choice, and Josh doesn’t go anywhere without his hot sauce. Hammond keeps a bottle of his favorite ‘Crystal’ in his locker just in case.
While he will pound a few donuts, he says Frankie sticks to bar-b-q sauce. But says he got the palate for the spicy stuff back home with mom’s cooking and even she would carry a bottle of hot sauce around with her in her purse.
“She used to cook and I used to put hot sauce on it all the time,” he said before sharing what he indulges in now. “Chicken wings mostly, that’s pretty much what I eat seven times a week. I put it on random stuff (like) rice.”
Now Hammond is looking to help spice up an offense that has underperformed for several years now. He’s going to get plenty of repetitions this spring as with injuries, there are only four scholarship receivers that can go through contact periods this spring.
"We're kind of short on guys, but we come out and compete the same level every day,” Hammond said. “It is exciting, but it does hurt on the back end because you get tired a lot. But it's great working competition that we get."
“We’ll be fine. It will be a great experience, plus to see that we can work without all the guys, it will be a lot of extra reps for us.”
With the playing time as a freshman, Hammond learned a lot. From this time a year ago when he arrived on campus early out of Hallandale High School, he has improved tremendously and learned a lot.
"I would say a lot better. I've grown a lot just a bunch learning the game and learning different positions and a lot of different stuff I didn't learn in high school."
"Different routes, different coverages. Just the different stuff you see at the college football level that you don't see in high school, and especially in south Florida. So the game speed's a lot different and a lot of the people are a lot smarter, so just thinking on the fly and stuff like that."
Hammond said it as mid-season before he really felt comfortable on the field.
"Probably like midway through the season I got real comfortable,” he said. Everything was fine, there was no more jitters. It was just regular football again."
He knew it wasn’t going to be easy when he arrived, his goal as a rookie was to help the team in any way he could.
"Just trying to come and get better and compete. You know, when I got here, I didn't really know much. Just high school, coming out and just playing football. So when I got here, there was a learning curve and trying to acclimate myself to try to help the team in a positive way."
Now his focus is on the mental part of the game like reading defenses and knowing where everybody else is supposed to be on a play. These are things that will make the offense that much better.
“Now I’m working on little things, kind of watching more film, knowing what other defenses are doing, other teams are doing, just different preparation,” Hammond said. “Just preparation for other teams, watching their film, seeing what they do. If I do that I will be fine.”
And Hammond expects the other guys in the unit will follow suit this year. Even with the lack of production in the past, he believes this unit is one that is about to take off.
"We'll be a lot better,” he said. “We've got a lot more guys that are teammates in the system. Everybody knows what they're doing. It'll be a lot less brain farts and we'll be able to play a lot faster than we did last year."