College interest: Committed to Vanderbilt
Barrett Gouger's summer was a little more relaxed, even less stressful than those of most college football prospects.
Baylor's big offensive lineman didn't have to worry about impressing college recruiters at camps or months of competition at combines. His cell phone wasn't continually ringing or chiming text-message alerts, and his e-mail account wasn't clogged.
He committed to Vanderbilt long before, and it wasn't because the Commodores were the first to make an offer but because he quickly became enamored with James Franklin's coaching regime.
"Vanderbilt always gets overlooked. That's one reason I chose them," Gouger said. "Coach Franklin is changing the culture [of Vanderbilt football] and I think we'll be in there fighting with the rest. It's a good education, it's playing in the SEC and it's in Nashville. It's a good school."
Gouger has wondered already if he'll be a target or draw each opponent's "A" game in his senior prep season, but he isn't concerned.
"I hold myself to a high standard, and I want to represent my schools [Baylor and Vanderbilt] and my family to the best of my ability," he said.
Gouger wound up with offers from Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee, Memphis, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Nebraska and South Carolina coaches had been in contact. He also made unofficial but by-invitation visits to Virginia and Duke, where former Baylor teammate David Helton signed last February.
"I wasn't concerned about the others, I guess because I was so impressed with Coach Franklin," Gouger said. "He seems to have a genuine care for you and your life and not just what you do football-wise."
Baylor coach Phil Massey agreed with the assessment made by Gouger, who actually received a Vandy offer before the Red Raiders had finished their run to the 2010 Division II-AA state championship game.
"That early interest and them making him feel like he was a kid they certainly wanted to get made him feel really good about them," Massey said. "They let him be known he could be a cornerstone for their recruiting class. I think he has felt from the beginning that he was really wanted."
A third-year starter for the Red Raiders, Gouger graded out at 84 percent and had 24 pancake blocks in 2010. Last spring the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder was electronically timed in 5.1 seconds for the 40-yard dash.
"I like him at left tackle, but with his athletic ability he could play anywhere [on the offensive line]," Massey said. "Once he gets in a college strength program and at a training table, he'll easily carry 300 pounds."
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...