UF Senior Salute: Frankie Hammond
EDITOR'S NOTE: GatorCountry.com is highlighting the careers of each of the Florida Gators' football team's seniors in this ongoing series heading into their final game in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Louisville on Jan. 2.
Late in the season, redshirt senior receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. was asked to sum up his thoughts on his career with the Gators, one that soon will be coming to an end.
“It is [hard to believe],” Hammond Jr. said. “Times flies fast when you’re playing ball. The four or five years I spent here have went by, and the time is here. I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s been a great experience for me.”
Well, if anyone knows about flying, it is Hammond.
The 6-foot, 187-pound receiver has a made a career of getting behind the defense with his superior speed and quickness. Hammond’s agility has made him a multi-sport athlete, as he also competed as a high jumper with Florida’s track team during the spring season.
However, football is where Hammond truly left his mark on the program.
During the regular season, he was third on the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (273). His three receiving touchdowns tied him for second on the team, as well.
But there were few touchdowns as electric as the ones turned in by Hammond this season, as Hammond started the year off right.
Early in the fourth quarter in Florida’s season opener, the Gators were surprisingly struggling with Bowling Green. The Falcons scored the first touchdown, and though the Gators battled back to take the lead, they had been unable to put the game away.
Hammond helped change that.
With 13:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel hit Hammond with what looked to be an innocent slant route to pick up a first down.
Hammond had other thoughts.
After dodging a defender, he turned up field and was off to the races. He motored 50 yards into the end zone to ignite the stagnant Florida offense and give the Gators a 24-14 lead.
“Frankie’s explosive play at the receiver position was much welcomed, and it was a big play on his part,” Gators coach Will Muschamp said following the game. “Really excited for him. We need to continue to get those plays outside.”
Muschamp asked, and Hammond delivered.
Two weeks later, the Gators again found themselves in a dogfight late in the game. This time, Florida was in Knoxville for a matchup with No. 23 Tennessee.
With Florida leading 27-20, the Gators had the ball at their own 25-yard line.
On third-and-7, Tennessee brought a corner blitz from Hammond’s side. Feeling the pressure, Driskel looked to the senior receiver to bail him out of trouble.
In a play eerily reminiscent to the touchdown he scored against Bowling Green, Hammond took the quick pass, cut inside and ran through Tennessee’s suddenly porous defense to give the Gators a two-score lead with less than 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
But for as much as Hammond has given the Gators on the field — igniting the offense with his agility — he is another important cog in the ongoing transition under Muschamp.
With a relatively young, inexperienced team, not many players were left from Urban Meyer’s glory years. But Hammond was a holdover.
In 2009, Florida’s last trip to a BCS bowl prior to this season, Hammond had a minimal role. (He caught four passes for 57 yards that season.)
However, Hammond has a taste of greatness at Florida and refused to finish his career without having another taste.
He had a hunger that was unsatisfied before this season. A thirst that was unquenched. Now, with one game left, he has the chance to finish his career the way it began — with a win in the Sugar Bowl.
“A lot of us have poured out hearts into this program,” Hammond said. “To have it finally end and to look at it from the outside in … it will be real emotional. It definitely hurts, but it’s time to close that door, and other opportunities will come.”
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2014 Football Commits
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2013 Basketball Commits
|Clermont (Fla.) Montverde Academy|
|Bonifay (Fla) Holmes County|
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