Hammond Trying to Earn a Spot

Frankie Hammond

The biggest concern on the Florida offense has to be wide receivers where the Gators return only one player who caught more than 15 passes a year ago. Deonte Thompson (24-343, 4 TD) is the veteran in a receiving corps that seems to have plenty of talent but very little experience.

Some more experience could be had if newly returned senior Carl Moore becomes a factor, but he had just 14 catches in 2008 before missing all of last season with injuries.

Getting the receiving corps to a high level is the job of new WR coach Zach Azzanni who replaced Billy Gonzales prior to the Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati. Azzanni is looking for young guys to make a move.

Enter Frankie Hammond. The third year sophomore from Hallandale starred in the Orange and Blue Game a year ago, but ended up catching just four passes during the regular season. Hammond feels he's making progress this spring.

"It's going good so far, just progressing every day. I'm just going out every day and getting better. That's what spring is (for), a chance to get better and develop as a player."

I asked him how he's going about the process of becoming a better player.

"We've got a new coach this year and I'm just taking (his) coaching, we're all taking (his) coaching and every day making progress and go from there."

So I asked Hammond, how is Coach "Z" different from Coach "G"?

"Every coach is the same. Every coach is going to push you, get on your behind and coach you up. Everybody brings something a little different to the table but coaching is coaching and all of us take it in and go from there."

Hammond has spent a lot of time in his two years on campus playing catch with Johnny Brantley, which is what back ups do while the starters are doing their thing. He talked about developing that relationship and transferring it to the football field.

"We have a pretty good chemistry. It's his time so we've got to go. It's his spot. He's the quarterback and I've just got to go and make the plays. He just puts it out there and as a receiver it's our job to go get it. Whether it's behind (me) or in front or too high it doesn't matter. As a receiver you have to go get that ball."

Hammond said he is not at all concerned about those who feel wide receiver is the weakest position on the offense.

"I really don't feed into it. We're just our here trying to get better every day. People are going to say good stuff. People are going to say bad stuff. I really don't pay (it) any attention, I'm just working."

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Aside from Thompson and Moore, Florida's top returning receivers from last year are Omarius Hines (14-172, 1 TD), Chris Rainey (10-161, 1 TD) and Justin Williams (6-50, 2 TD).

Joining Hammond in the battle for playing time are T.J. Lawrence and Stephen Alli and right behind them are Andre Debose who is still healing form hamstring surgery and true freshmen Robert Clark and Solomon Patton.

Florida wraps up spring practice with the Orange and Blue Game this Saturday.

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