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Tuesday November 13, 2012Frankie Hammond, Jr.: Leading By Example

Gainesville, Fla.

By Megan Broadway, UF Communications

 

Redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. is in his final season at the University of Florida, one that is shaping up to be the best of his collegiate career.

 

Head coach Will Muschamp has praised him to be “one of our most consistent receivers” and he currently is third among Gator wide receivers with 230 yards on 15 catches and has tallied three touchdowns on the season.

 

Hammond says that part of his development on the football field has been learning that “as a receiver, you want to catch a million balls, but you just have to understand that that’s not the nature of the game. I try to focus on blocking and making reads and making calls, and being a complete football player.”

 

While his production on the field has been a valuable asset to the Gators, it’s his role off of the field that may be having the greatest impact.

 

Following a disappointing 2011 season in which the Orange and Blue finished 7-6 overall, the coaching staff called for individuals to step into a leadership role, and Hammond has done just that. He serves as not only a leader, but also as a mentor to the younger receivers, both roles that Coach Muschamp certainly finds fitting.

 

“I think he’s a great example for our young receivers to understand the way you do it and the way you approach the game,” UF’s second-year head coach said. “It’s not just about what you do on the practice field, it’s about the meeting room and living right off the field and doing things the right way.”

 

With an 8-1 record entering today’s Homecoming Game against Louisiana, the 2012 Florida Gators do not possess a won-loss mark that most fans expected to see. Team members credit a lot of their success to maturity and the emergence of leadership, like Hammond’s, throughout the locker room.

 

When asked about his role as a leader, the Hollywood, Fla., native smiled and said, “I just want to be an influence to people who come after me and show that if you work hard and do your job, good things will come your way.”

 

Now in his fifth season within the program, Hammond has seen his fair share of ups and downs, but it’s no surprise that when asked about his most memorable experience, winning the National Championship in 2008 is the first thing that comes to mind.

 

“That was a great experience, to be at the top of the game at the collegiate level. Every competitive athlete strives to win.”

 

Even though his career at the University of Florida is coming to an end, Hammond still remembers how it all began: “My redshirt freshman year, it was a running play, but it was just my first SEC play.”

 

Hammond’s dream is to reach the NFL and he’s not shooting for anything less. He says that New York Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz’s style of play is one that he looks up to.

 

“I just love watching him. He runs pretty good routes so when I get a chance, I just look at his film and watch how he runs them.”

 

Don’t expect to see any Cruz-style touchdown dances, though. Hammond insists that he can dance but that he would “rather celebrate with my teammates just to save the penalty flags.”

 

Maturity. Leadership.

 

While football is something that Hammond does, and does well, it’s not necessarily who he is. Ask him about his dream job, other than reaching the NFL, and people might be surprised to learn that it would be working for ESPN as a broadcaster. Most athletes would prefer to stay away from the cameras but not Hammond, who will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications, media & society.

 

“You can put a camera in front of me anytime and I’ll be ready to go,” he boasted. “After football, I want to be in front of the camera, I want to share my thoughts with the world.”

 

People can check out video of Hammond giving a tour of the football facilities on the GatorVision website.

 

“I’m just trying to show people other things than just football. We’re in school and that’s my field of work so I just want to show people that I can do other things as well.”

 

Some of Hammond’s other hobbies include roller skating and competing on the Gator track and field team as a high jumper, both of which he credits for the development of his football game.

 

“Football is a game of power and high jumping is a game of power, so I may not be the biggest or strongest receiver but I’ve got power. I high jump over seven feet.”

 

Yes, you read that correctly, Hammond can jump over seven feet, making him a defensive back’s nightmare.

 

Is there anything Hammond isn’t good at? Challenge him to a video game of college or pro football and you might just find out.

 

“I don’t know what it is about football games, but I’m not very good at them. I should be because I play football, though.”

 

Football is something he does, not who he is. Hammond is a hard-working, fun-loving young man, who is well-respected and liked by teammates, coaches, and peers alike. Even leaving a 15-minute conversation with him, a person can feel like they’ve gained a new friend.

 

Hammond wants to set an example for the younger players, and those who will come after him. His advice to them, “Everybody has dreams of going to the NFL, so just keep the dream alive.”

 

More importantly, “Don’t ever shy away from your dreams. Put in the work and it will fall into place.”

 

For Frankie Hammond Jr., five years, a national title, an SEC Championship and the pursuit of an NFL career, it certainly has.

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