GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain feels bad for Joshua Hammond and Freddie Swain.
He knows the true freshmen wideouts, who graduated from high school early to enroll at UF, may miss their senior proms. But McElwain also questions whether this move was deliberate.
“These guys should be going to prom,” he said. “I don’t know that they could have got dates. Maybe that’s why they came here. They might get shot down.”
Though McElwain questions their abilities with the ladies, he doesn’t doubt the receiving skills of Hammond and Swain. McElwain said the WR position was “kind of behind” after the opening day of spring practices, but he likes how the freshmen have progressed over the past week.
“We’ve got young guys there taking reps. The good thing is you can see the talent,” McElwain said. “We need to pick up the mental part of it. … I thought they did a much better job the other day understanding a few of the concepts.”
Hammond and Swain both shined on big stages as recruits. Last summer many felt Swain was the top receivers at The Opening, an annual combine for the nation’s top prospects at Nike world headquarters in Oregon. Hammond was one of the best wideouts during the Under Armour All-America Game practices and earned high praise from former NFL player Plaxico Burress.
“That’s all part of your evaluation, is how those guys do in events,” McElwain said. “The bigger the stage, sometimes guys step up a little bit. Other guys maybe, sometimes kind of hide and don’t show up as much. For us, those guys doing that on those big stages like that obviously shows, you know what, they’re not afraid to compete.”
McElwain has seen that carry over into spring with Hammond and Swain. Both have displayed a competitive edge and confidence in practice, even if they don’t know all their routes yet.
“I’m excited about them,” McElwain said. “Just seeing those guys and not them having those big wide eyes, like this is too big for them. That’s not the case. They get in there and battle.
“Yeah, they make some mistakes here and there, but they should. That’s part of growing into the position. And yet they haven’t backed down at all. That’s been a good thing to see.”
Senior wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood said it took him some time to get acclimated as a freshman. He thinks Hammond and Swain are already ahead of schedule.
“They’ve been doing a hell of a job,” Fulwood said. “When I first learned the playbook, they’re way far ahead of me. So I’m proud of them. They’re killing it out there.”
Here's your first look at Gator early-enrollee wideouts Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond pic.twitter.com/kIn6qxN2rp
— Nikko Tan (@TheNikkoTan) March 9, 2016