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Sunday, August 14, 2022

After two years in junior college, receiver finds home at Florida

<p>Receiver Dre Massey participates in Florida's 2016 Spring practice at the Sanders Practice Fields.</p>

Receiver Dre Massey participates in Florida's 2016 Spring practice at the Sanders Practice Fields.

Steve Spurrier didn’t forget about Dre.

That’s Dre Massey, Florida’s versatile junior wide receiver who spent two years at Holmes Community College in Mississippi before transferring to UF this year.

But before Massey earned a second shot at playing Division I football, he was recruited out of high school by Spurrier, then South Carolina’s head coach. Massey was a standout quarterback at Mauldin High School just outside of his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.

But the recruiting talks didn’t work out in his favor.

“Everybody knew with my grades, I wasn’t gonna make it,” Massey said. “I had to go the JUCO route. I kind of got back on track and got some offers.”

Massey did so well in 2015, combining for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games, that he heard from Spurrier at the end of the season.

But both ended up choosing Florida. Spurrier resigned from South Carolina in October and returned to UF in July as an ambassador and consultant to the athletic program.

Since he’s been here, Spurrier has praised Massey’s abilities.

“He’s very impressed with my hands and how good I can catch the ball,” Massey said. “I didn’t expect that coming from someone who’s never played receiver.”

While his receiving skills garnered attention from Florida, it’s Massey’s speed and flexibility that will get him on the field and make a difference this season.

Coach Jim McElwain said he plans to use the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder as a kick returner, receiver, quarterback and even a punter this season.

“I think the thing about him is his versatility to do a lot of different things,” McElwain said. “Everything from punt to throw to handle it carrying it out of the backfield. There’s a lot of different things, and he’s one of those guys that you can use in a lot of different situations.”

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Massey is still adapting, however. After nearly three weeks of preseason practice, he said Southeastern Conference football is a lot faster and more physical than junior college. Specifically, he’s had to pay more attention to detail in running his routes.

“In JUCO, we just kind of go,” he said. “If you’re good, you’re good.”

Lining up against the likes of corners Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson has also helped Massey, who said Wilson’s 6-foot-1, 213-pound frame is especially difficult for him.

“Going into a game, you know you aren’t going to see guys as good and talented as them,” Massey said. “It just shows me when you go against players like that, the games will be easy.”

Massey always knew he was talented enough to play in a venue like Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. What has helped him adjust to the speed of the game is the chip on his shoulder.

“It’s really your last chance,” Massey said of playing JUCO ball. “I think that humbles you enough to know that this is it. That’s kind of your mindset going in. Are you gonna make it or not?”

Contact Patrick Pinak at ppinak@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @pinakk12.

Receiver Dre Massey participates in Florida's 2016 Spring practice at the Sanders Practice Fields.

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