Josh Hammond remembers.
He remembers Dan Mullen walking into his Hallandale home when Hammond was a child. He remembers Mullen, then Florida’s offensive coordinator, recruiting his older brother, Frankie. And he remembers how just weeks ago, with Mullen freshly installed as Hammond’s new head coach at Florida, the former offensive coordinator posed a question.
“The first thing he asked me was did I remember when he walked into my house,” Hammond said. “And I definitely did.”
Mullen made an impression on Hammond even back then, and he’s making an even bigger one now. Hammond heaped praise on his new coach’s program with spring practice scheduled to start Friday. And why not? Hammond, a former Under Armour All-American out of Hallandale High, hasn’t lived up to expectations in his first two seasons in Gainesville. Perhaps Mullen’s new offense is just what he needs to finally break through.
“We’ve only installed so much, being that we haven’t started practice yet, but it looks good,” Hammond said. “Watching film from Mississippi State, they were able to put a lot of points on the board in big games and, you know, we are just really excited. Especially as receivers.”
Aside from the play book overhaul, two other changes in Mullen’s program have already influenced Hammond. First is the new training regimen led by director of strength and conditioning Nick Savage.
Hammond said he’s already gained seven pounds of muscle and lost three percent body fat under Savage’s system. He said the key is that Savage doesn’t allow players to quit and forces them to compete against each other constantly.
“I think that’s been a huge difference for us,” Hammond said, “having a lot of guys just going, going, going no matter what.”
The other big change is Mullen’s implementation of a team leadership council that’s voted on by the players. Hammond, who finished last season with 18 catches for 246 yards and no touchdowns, was selected as an inaugural member.
“I was one of the guys that voted for Josh to be on the leadership council,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “He’s always set an example for not only the receiving group but the whole team. He’s always been that guy who is always trying to do right, and he does it at his best every time. That’s just Josh.”
But will either of those things have an effect on Hammond’s production? Well, the increased strength certainly could. But every player on the team is getting into the weight room on similar regimens, and Hammond admitted he’s not the only player seeing results. The leadership council, meanwhile, gives Hammond some recognition alongside fellow council members Franks, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Cece Jefferson, Martez Ivey, C’yontai Lewis, David Reese and R.J. Raymond. Mullen said that recognition is deserved.
“He’s a leadership committee guy because I think everyone sees the respect that he has of his teammates and what the program is all about,” Mullen said.
Again, will that make him better when Florida needs a receiver (or two or three) to step up alongside Tyrie Cleveland? Probably not, aside from maybe a little ego boost. That’s fine with Hammond.
In his two years at Florida, he’s never been one to brag or make bold predictions. He’s excited about Mullen’s offense, sure, and about being recognized by his teammates. But he’s also eager for practice to begin. Then he can give Mullen new, better memories than that visit with his brother all those years ago.
“The best man is going to win at the end of the day,” he said of the competition at receiver. “I think us as receivers are willing to help each other and just compete and see who comes out at the top.”