If Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks ever hands out awards to his wide receivers, senior Josh Hammond will be going home with a lot of hardware.
Let’s see, Most Reliable. Most Consistent. Most Appreciated. Most Underrated. Most Dependable. Most Coachable. Hardest Worker.
Maybe even Best Hands and Best Route Runner, too.
Anyway, you get the idea. Franks really, really likes No. 10. Hammond may often get overlooked among the Gators’ deep and talented receiver group, but his quarterback always sees him.
“One of my favorite players,” Franks said. “Responsible. Somebody you can always count on. Someone you know is always going to run the right route and be in the right place at the right time. He’s a guy you can always count on.
“He knows when to break hot. He and the quarterback are always on the same page. He’s not spectacular, but he does what he needs to do. He does his job. That’s the most important thing.
“I’d rather have somebody who goes out there and does their job every play instead of someone who every now and then makes a spectacular play but runs the wrong route ever so often. That’s what Josh brings to the table.”
Hammond is just as impressive in the locker room as he is on the field, Franks said.
“Comes to the building every day ready to work,” Franks said. “You never hear anything bad about Josh. He’s always taking care of his teammates. I can’t brag enough about Josh.
“He’s a great guy to be around, a great friend, and on top of that, a great player. He doesn’t get as much recognition as he should.”
Hammond is a player who doesn’t seem to crave recognition, or even care about his. His focus always seems to be on working hard, doing the right thing on the field and off, improving his craft to be a better asset for his teammates and team.
That’s what this summer is all about for Hammond. He’s grinding away with his teammates, working on improving his game, which already seems pretty complete based on what Franks says about him. But Hammond is hard at work.
“I’m working more on being a leader of our team, being more vocal,” Hammond said. “Football-wise, I’m just trying to make sure that I can make those contested catches and make sure I’m able to separate out of the top of my breaks.
“That’s the biggest thing, not only for me but our entire receiver corps. We’ve all been working on separation in and out of route breaks. And trying to make sure we can come down with those 50-50 balls and make those a habit.”
Hammond said the receivers and quarterbacks have been getting on the practice field practically every day this summer, working on timing and route running and the passing game in general.
“We try to go out there every day, even if it’s not for very long,” he said. “We know how important it is for our offense if we can have a dominant passing game.
“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys who have played a lot of ball who definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to running routes and catching the ball and making things happen.
“The biggest thing for us is making sure we’re all on the same page where we’ll be able to execute at a high level.”
The receivers have set a goal for themselves for the upcoming season: become the best wide receiver group in college football.
“Definitely (we can be),” Hammond said. “We have a lot of guys who can play ball and get after it. The talent is there. We have to push ourselves every day to strive for that title to be the best receiver group in the country. I think we can get there.
“We have to work hard, stay together as a family and get each other better every day. The sky is the limit for this group.”
Along with football, Hammond is also working on something else this summer that is very important to him and his family — finishing his degree. He’s on track to graduate in August.
Getting that degree is the main reason he did not seek any feedback from the NFL last winter about the possibility of entering the draft.
“The biggest thing for my family was making sure I got my degree first,” Hammond said. “That’s something I wanted to make sure I got. I graduate in August, so that’s something I’m excited about. Then football from there.”