GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Senior wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood is the first to admit that his football career at Florida has not quite lived up to expectations — neither his own nor those of others.
But his final game at The Swamp was certainly memorable.
Fulwood hauled in a beautiful 18-yard fade pass in the end zone for his first touchdown grab since 2014 and later aded a 30-yard reception during Florida’s 20-7 win over South Carolina on senior day.
“It was emotional,” Fulwood said. “At first, I was just like, ‘Wow, I just scored a touchdown,’ but when it came back down to me, you know, I came back level-headed and I was like, ‘All right, good. This is something for the team.’ I wanted to do it for those guys as much as they were doing it for me.”
Fulwood was threatening to match his season totals from from 2015 (61 receiving yards) and the first eight games of this season, as he had just 5 catches for 64 yards entering the day.
The touchdown was the third of his career.
“I mean, it’s been a rocky road. It obviously didn’t go how I wanted it to go or how people wanted it to go, but I grew up, became a man, learned a lot. So I have no regrets,” he said.
Fulwood was a 4-star recruit out of Jacksonville and the No. 12 ranked receiver nationally in his signing class, according to the 247sports composite.
He tallied 127 and 199 receiving yards, respectively, in his first two seasons before tailing off.
Gators coach Jim McElwain voiced his appreciation of the wide receiver on Saturday, though. McElwain showed some cracks of emotion in discussing senior day, and he spoke with particular pride in discussing Fulwood.
“Here’s why I was so excited: He went up and he got a rebound, man. We threw that numbers fade to him and, you know, the stab route and he climbed the ladder and went up and ripped it off the board. He caught the ball aggressively on the corner route,” McElwain said. “And he’s been a guy who twice, just through how he’s played, has actually been our offensive player of the week because he’s doing a lot of the little things that don’t show up in the box score. Today some things showed up in the box score, and that’s great to see.”
The 18-yard touchdown from Austin Appleby in the corner of the end zone came early in the second quarter and gave Florida a 14-0 lead at the time. His 30-yard grab, in which he stopped his route, turned and rose up to haul in the pass down the left sideline, came late in the third quarter to take the Gators across midfield and set up an eventual field goal for a 20-0 lead.
This is just a pretty looking pass.
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) November 12, 2016
He detailed the touchdown grab in his postgame comments.
“He lined up inside at first so I kind of felt like I would get the opportunity, that when I got to the corner I’d be pretty much open,” he said. “But once he lined up head up and then he started backpedaling I could see that he was scared I was going to hit the post, so I gave him a little post move and when I shot to the corner I just knew that the ball was coming.”
Those were his only two catches on the day, but they were two of the biggest offensive plays of the game for the Gators.
No, it hasn’t been quite the four years Fulwood envisioned when he signed with Florida, but his finish in The Swamp was one he won’t forget.
As he explained, though, he already knew that would be the case coming into the day. The touchdown and two receptions just made it all the more special.
“For me, I brought my own juice. I was excited,” Fulwood said of feeding on the senior day motivation. “I just tried to emit it to the other guys and tell them how special this place is and never take it for granted.”