No football team makes it through any season — no matter how great — without its share of good times and bad times. For freshman wide receiver Jarred Fayson, Florida’s run to the national championship game in Glendale, Arizona, has been a real learning experience. He can thank a handful of veterans on the team for getting him through his share of difficult times.
With the big game against Ohio State coming up, the Gators are working extra hard to make a statement in front of a national television audience. Fayson is doing his best to get ready for the game while making the entire experience a memory to last a lifetime.
“It’s crazy, I can’t describe it,” Fayson said. “The preparation is tough but we are getting it done. We figure if we come out and work hard and do what we have to do, there will be a very nice gift for us in the end. I just want to help the team any way I can.”
Fayson spent the season helping the team in a variety of ways. He has seen action at receiver, running back, and even at quarterback this year. He is a multi-talented athlete that is dangerous with the ball in his hands. You can expect the Florida staff to design a number of packages to exploit his particular talents next season.
A depth chart top heavy in experienced players has limited Fayson’s time on the field. New clock rules that have shortened the game have also eliminated 15-20 plays a game, further limiting the opportunities for Fayson. At one point, Fayson felt some frustration but fortunately, he had older players ready to give him guidance.
“I am around Dallas Baker a lot,” Fayson said. “He is my roommate when we travel. I learn everything from him about being a receiver and being a young man. Jemalle Cornelius and Dallas are great leaders. They had growing pains too and helped me get through mine like big brothers.
“Bubba (Caldwell) and I spend a lot of time together too because he and I are from Tampa. Even though he isn’t a senior he plays a senior role. The whole team is a big family atmosphere.”
Baker remembers that he had similar tough times when he was a younger player. He’s patiently tried to guide Fayson through the lean times, helping the freshman to keep his eye focused on the big picture.
“Jarred is a great kid, he stays out of trouble, does what he is supposed to in school and is disciplined,” Baker said. “His issues were just like every one of us, he came out of high school where he was the man. He came here with a hundred other All-Americans, so then it is like he is getting lost in the middle. He got a little discouraged instead of just working and competing.”
Some superstar freshmen cannot handle the lack of success in their first season. Fayson watched as fellow freshman receiver Percy Harvin had an outstanding season for the Gators which led to several freshman all-conference honors. Harvin and Fayson became friends last year on the recruiting trail when they were both in San Antonio for the US Army All-American Bowl.
Some freshmen can’t fight off the angst caused by not being a bigger part of things as a first year freshman. Arkansas freshman receiver Damian Williams, a one time Florida commitment, decided he wasn’t getting enough attention in the offense he was in and is transferring from Arkansas.
Rather than cave in to some immature thoughts about leaving, Fayson turned to his many “big brothers” on the team and that has kept him on the straight and narrow path.
The skill positions will take a real hit with graduation and that should open some doors for Fayson to see the field and the football. Three seniors are departing from the wide receiver position. Tailback DeShawn Wynn and quarterback Chris Leak are also seniors and all that benefits Fayson nicely since he’s capable of playing all three positions.
When Fayson looks back on the lean moments when he felt under-utilized, he is thankful that he had some mature guidance from older teammates.
“Every freshman experiences growing pains and I started going through them,” he said. “I fell back a little bit and started looking at things and my teammates helped me get through everything. I just had to adjust to college in general and the whole concept of football and life and just growing up and being out here. I just talked to the guys that just went through all of that stuff two years ago and they really helped me understand.”
According to Fayson’s road game roommate, Fayson is a great character guy that looks to do big things at Florida before all is said and done.
“He isn’t a guy that says much, but lets his play do the talking for him,” Baker said. “He isn’t the kind of guy that celebrates and dances and all of that. He has a bright future and is a hard worker.”
With that dedication, his time may be now.