Freshmen revitalize the passing game

44 receptions for 426 yards and four touchdowns.

That is what Florida has returning as far as production from the wide receiver position. To put that number into perspective, 17 receivers in the SEC alone had more receptions, 32 players had more receiving yards and 21 players had more touchdowns on their own in 2012. That number includes Jordan Reed, who by himself had more receptions (45) and yards (559) than the five receivers on Florida’s roster that had at least one catch last year and returned for this season.

So when the Gators went out and signed five receivers in the 2013 recruiting cycle, it shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise. When Will Muschamp starts talking about taking one of his best cornerbacks and making him split time on offense, it should open up eyes as to just how bad the problem could potentially be.

Fortunately for the Gators, two of those freshmen wide receivers have stepped up this offseason. Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson are two players that Gator fans will get to know a whole lot better this season. Both Fulwood and Robinson will help Muschamp sleep at night, instead of having him worry about what the passing offense will look like this season.

“Right now, the two young guys at the receiver position are Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson,” Muschamp said to the media on Monday. “[They] are two guys that there is no question are going to help our football team and improve our football team.”

Fulwood and Robinson took two very different routes to get to Gainesville. Fulwood committed early and, for the most part, shut down his recruitment and remained loyal to Florida. Robinson went all the way down until the day he had to enroll in class in January. He was torn between Clemson’s high-powered offense and Florida – a team that won football games with a power running attack. In the end, Robinson drove down to Gainesville from his home in Fort Valley, Georgia and enrolled early at Florida.

Their time at Florida also started differently. Robinson took off in spring camp and immediately impressed the coaching staff and his teammates with his athletic ability. His teammates called him a freak and after a few short practices, it was clear that the Gators had a player who could change the offense and stretch the field. Fulwood took some time to impress the staff but once the pads came on and the team went into full 11-on-11 practices, he began impressing the staff as well.

Not wanting to inflate the ego of his young, talented receiving duo, offensive coordinator Brent Pease complimented the young receivers while making sure to say that there is plenty of work still to be done.

“The freshmen are very talented kids,” Pease said. “Now the knowledge of just learning their plays consistently and understanding what all the calls are is where the mistakes come from. But as far as running and catching and their abilities, they are a very, very talented group.”

These two represent more than just the future of the position for Florida. They don’t have time to sit on the sidelines and learn from watching older players. Their time is now. The learning curve is, and will be, steep but at the end of the day Robinson and Fulwood have already shown just 12 practices in, that they are ready to step up and take Florida’s passing game out of the cellar in the SEC.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC