Two-sport Andrades sought advice in decision

The two-sport approach of football and baseball hasn't been used very much lately in Gainesville. Gavin Dickey served as a backup quarterback and outfielder while Riley Cooper also patrolled the outfield some while serving as a wide receiver. This is always the toughest time with baseball season in full swing and spring football happening, but Raph Andrades is trying to be the next to do it.

The Seattle Mariners originally selected Gavin Dickey in the 12th round of the MLB Draft. In preparation for his season, Dickey would spend time working out and hitting at the Lincoln High School baseball fields in Tallahassee. That's where he first crossed paths with Andrades.

The two met during the early parts of Andrades' junior baseball season at Lincoln. Andrades knew he wanted to play baseball and football in college, and there was no better example around him than Dickey.

"I actually talked to Gavin about it," Raph Andrades said. "He used to tell me all the time how he would go from football straight to baseball. We used to talk all the time. We talked about Riley Cooper, and he did both here, too. They came in and just did what they had to do."

There were examples of it being done in Gainesville. Andrades didn't know he would be attending Florida until he publicly committed to the Gators on Signing Day in 2012, but he wanted to be a two-sport athlete regardless of where he went. Doing it in Gainesville just made it easier to follow the path Dickey had already been through.

"He said it's going to be busy but not anything you can't handle," Andrades said. "Just come in and find your spot to play."

And that's what he has done. When the baseball team is at home and the football team doesn't have practice, he's always in the dugout at McKethan Stadium. Football is the priority when baseball is on the road or when both are happening at the same time.

Andrades hasn't gotten into a game for the baseball team this spring, but that's not too much of a surprise during his first year. He was in football mode during the fall, starting three games and playing in nine for the Gators.

"Since the season started, I have still been working to perfect my craft," Andrades said. "I've always started behind. I catch up quick. I've done that all my life."

Even with an opportunity to take the next step on the football field, Andrades still wanted to play baseball. Football coach Will Muschamp and baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan both approved the decision, and he was out at the first spring baseball practice in January.

"It makes things easier on me," Andrades said of getting the approval from both coaches. "It's definitely a relief. I'm glad we talked about it. Coach Muschamp talked to me about it before baseball started, and we talked about with Coach Sully, and then we talked about it again. We all are on the same page."

He has seen some progress on the football field this spring. After getting on the field as a freshman but making just two catches for five yards, Andrades wanted to get more comfortable in the offense this spring.

First-year receivers coach Joker Phillips has played a big part in that. Phillips recruited Andrades to Kentucky when he was still the head coach there, and their relationship was strong throughout the process. Phillips emphasized his time as a receivers coach, including when he coached current Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb.

"It was surprising when I learned he was the receivers coach, but I liked it," Andrades said of being recruited by Phillips. "I was excited because I already knew who he was. He is a great coach and an even better person.

"He was always straight up with me and he was always telling me he would try and make me the best player I can be. And that's what he's done here. I'm glad he got the chance to coach."

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