GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A familiar face roamed the sidelines of Florida’s practice fields during spring football.
Former Gators wide receiver Frankie Hammond is living in Gainesville this offseason as he prepares for his first year with the New York Jets, who signed him in January after he spent four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It just started this year,” Hammond said of his return to Gainesville. “Most of the time I go back down to South Florida, but this year I’ve spent a good amount of time here just getting ready for OTAs.
“It’s good and it’s bad. I’m a little old so I’ve moved on, but it kind of gives you flashbacks. There’s some down time for me to enjoy it, but there’s work to put in. Plus, I have my brother here.”
His younger brother, Josh Hammond, is a sophomore receiver for the Gators. During spring football, Frankie would train in the morning so he could watch his brother’s practices.
“It was exciting to see him,” Hammond said. “He just gives me a reason to come back and look forward to Gator football even more.”
Hammond was a member of Florida’s 2008 national championship team, but redshirted that year as a true freshman. He became a full-time starter during his senior season and made a memorable 75-yard touchdown catch in a win over Tennessee.
Hammond helped his younger brother with the recruiting process, but didn’t try to influence his decision.
“I wanted Josh to go to Florida, but I didn’t put that pressure on him,” Hammond said. “I just left it in his hands. But having an older brother who had been through the process, it was good for him.
“I kind of heard those same lines that coaches gave me. They play the recruiting game and I’m aware of it now. I made him knowledgeable so he could make the best choice, and I’m glad he chose Florida.”
As a true freshman, Hammond finished with 177 receiving yards on 14 catches, tied for fourth-most among UF wideouts. He is expected to have a bigger role this season and caught a 46-yard pass in Florida’s spring game.
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“I think his first year went well,” Hammond said of Josh. “Me being a receiver, I would like to see him get more balls. But that just comes with experience and getting more comfortable.
“He’s a step ahead of me when I came because I redshirted. So for him to play as a freshman, it’s great. It just shows his growth and development. The sky is the limit for him.”
Hammond, who wore No. 85 with the Gators and Jets, admits he’s a bit jealous of his brother’s jersey number at Florida.
“I wore No. 10 in high school and I wanted it in college, but they threw me 85,” Hammond said. “I was going to switch it later, but I was too attached to 85. It’s funny how things come full circle because he ended up with the number I wanted.”
Now that he’s back in Gainesville, Hammond is once again a regular at the Krispy Kreme shop near UF’s campus. In college, he earned the nickname “Hot Light Hammond” for his doughnut obsession.
It hasn’t died.
“If the light is on, I’m stopping. No matter what,” Hammond said. “I probably go 5-7 times a week. Still got the HOT light app. That’s the first thing I download whenever I get a new phone.”
Josh, to Frankie’s amusement, has the nickname “Hot Sauce Hammond” for his daily use of the fiery sauce.
“He always loved hot sauce, but it caught wind when he got to college,” Hammond said. “People take notice. Same thing with me and doughnuts.
“In high school, it wasn’t a big deal that I ate them. Then I got to Florida and Krispy Kreme was so accessible. I guess it’s just our thing.”