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Freshman DeAndre Goolsby is one of three tight ends the Gators signed in the 2014 class.

Tuesday February 11, 2014Goolsby Wants to Catch On with Gators Fast

Freshman DeAndre Goolsby is one of three tight ends the Gators signed in the 2014 class.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

Freshman tight end DeAndre Goolsby joins the UF program after a stellar career at Derby (Kan.) High.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The pull of the Big 12 was strong for DeAndre Goolsby.

He took one of his official visits to Oklahoma and Kansas State wanted him badly.

The Wildcats seemed like a natural fit, too. Goolsby’s father Brian played at Kansas State and Brandon Clark, Goolsby’s coach at Derby (Kan.) High, also played there.

But every time Goolsby contemplated his decision, he always came back to Florida.

DeAndre Goolsby

He knew what the Gators’ roster looked like. He understood the issues that played a role in the Gators’ 4-8 record. And most importantly, Goolsby thought he could help.

“It was a good place for me to be to able to come in and get early playing time,’’ he said. “That was a big part of it for me.”

Florida’s tight ends totaled just four catches in 2013, and Tevin Westbrook, a former defensive lineman, had three of those. Another former defensive lineman, Clay Burton, had the other one.

The Gators used their tight ends mostly for blocking a season ago following the departure of Jordan Reed, who caught a team-high 45 passes in 2012 before leaving school a year early for the NFL.

The Gators signed a pair of highly touted tight ends in 2012 for life after Reed. However, Kent Taylor transferred to Kansas after last season and Colin Thompson’s career has been sidetracked by recurring foot problems.

The Gators hope the trio of Goolsby, Moral Stephens and Cyontai Lewis bolsters the position’s production in the first year under new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Goolsby is the type of receiver that is big enough to play tight end but quick enough to split wide and catch balls downfield. Goolsby finished with 621 yards receiving as a senior to help Derby win a state title.

“I want to catch the ball,’’ he said. “If I have a strength [at this point in my career] it would be running routes and catching the ball. I’ve got a lot to work on but that is pretty big for me.”

In the Kansas State 6A title game in late November, Goolsby’s reputation as a receiver helped Derby score the winning touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining. Derby quarterback Jeremy Dunham hit Caleb Arnold for a 24-yard scoring pass to win the school’s first state title in almost 20 years.

“They put two guys on DeAndre, and Caleb came free over the top and that’s who I hit,’’ Dunham told the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal.

To get a head start on his freshman season, Goolsby enrolled in school last month. He will participate in spring practice and is participating in offseason workouts with the eight other early enrollees this spring.

“It was a good choice for me,’’ Goolsby said of enrolling early. He committed to the Gators in November. “I get to be around the players and coaches early and get that early time in the weight room and early time on the field and get to know the playbook a little bit.”

Goolsby also isn’t afraid of competition.

Growing up in Kansas, Goolsby said he followed SEC football and the league’s seven consecutive national championships until Florida State ended the streak last season.

“The SEC has always stuck out to me,’’ he said. “I want to play against the best, so why not join the best.”


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