From Small Town To Prime Time For Gulley

Freshman wide receiver/punt returner Anthony Gulley talks about playing early in his career.

Auburn, Ala.--Very few true freshmen come into college football and are prepared to face 87,000 screaming fans, let alone get on the field and perform. Consider the situation for Auburn freshman Anthony Gulley and the prospects get even tougher.

A standout at Brantley High, known more for being the home of basketball greats Chuck and Wesley Person, Gulley was used to playing in front of a few hundred fans at even the biggest of games. That's not surprising considering that less than 1,000 people make up the small Crenshaw County community.

But this season he's already seen action at wide receiver and punt returner for the Tigers. Last Saturday night there he was on the field returning punts against West Virginia in a game televised nationally on ESPN2 and doing his job well with two chances for 24 yards, including a 17-yarder. He says he just tried to do his job and not think about how far he's come in such a short time.

"I had a lot of things going through my head," Gulley said. "Mainly it was Coach Troop (Trooper Taylor) telling me to keep possession of the ball at the end of the play. I had been practicing real hard all week to look the ball end and possess it at the end of the play.

"It's a dream come true," he adds. "I never thought in a million years from 1A football I would be playing at an SEC school and starting."

One of the toughest things to do on a football team is to be the punt return man because of the inherent danger in doing your job. Normally you catch the ball with several defenders in your face running full speed and much of the time that is done while you're on the move. Because of that it helps if you've got plenty of experience and a knack for making the tough catch.

While Gulley doesn't have one of those, because of his career as a baseball player at Brantley he knows a thing or two about chasing down fly balls. That gives him a big advantage when he's doing his new job.

"It's hand and eye coordination," Gulley says. "It just comes natural. I have been playing baseball my whole life and everything just comes to me. It's just reflexes."

As the Tigers prepare to face Ball State this weekend in game number four, the chances that Gulley could see even more action on Saturday are pretty high considering the Cardinals are 0-3 on the year. No matter how it happens or when it comes, Gulley says he's already living a dream and last weekend was one he won‘t soon forget.

"It was outrageous," Gulley says of the West Virginia game. "I've never seen so many people in my life and never been in a stadium that loud. You couldn't even hear anybody talking right next to you. That's how loud it was."

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