Barrett Gouger has committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores and new football coach James Franklin.
"I went up to Vanderbilt over the weekend for a baseball game and really felt that family atmosphere," Baylor's all-city offensive lineman said. "I've been thinking about it for a while, and the more I thought the more I felt Vanderbilt was the place for me."
The Nashville school made him a scholarship offer before Baylor's season ended last year.
"I liked the enthusiasm [Vandy's staff] brings, and if I work hard I can play early," Gouger said.
He also had offers from Memphis, Wake Forest and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and an offer was expected soon from Louisville. Auburn and Georgia recruiters visited him last week, but Gouger decided not to wait.
"I did think some about them, but you can't beat the education at Vanderbilt," he said, who admitted to a longtime desire to play in the Southeastern Conference.
Baylor coach Phil Massey said Gouger really liked Herb Hand, the Commodores' new offensive line coach.
According to Massey, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Gouger was among the first to receive an offer from the Commodores.
"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."
Gouger, who graded out 84 percent on his blocking assignments, had 24 pancake blocks last season. The 2011 state wrestling heavyweight champion ran an electronically timed 5.1 40-yard dash in recent trials.
"I like him at left tackle," Massey said, "but with his athletic ability he could play anywhere [on the offensive line]. Once he gets in a college strength program and at a training table, he'll easily carry 300 pounds."
Gouger will be a third-year starter this fall for the Red Raiders.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.