The Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy strong safety got word he has a spot waiting for him on the Volunteers' roster on an unofficial visit to Knoxville for the Orange & White game on April 21.
"I really wasn't expecting an offer," said Gaulden, who rode to Rocky Top with fellow Vol target and BA teammate Jalen Ramsey. "We met the tour guides and went up to (cornerbacks) coach Derrick Ansley's office. Jalen went to coach Dooley's office and talked to him. Coach Ansley told me they wanted to offer, and it surprised me. I was real excited about that.
"It's very humbling. It makes me excited that they're looking at in-state guys to build their program and hopefully take them to the next level. It makes me really interested in them. It's a bit of a dream right now; it's very encouraging."
Ramsey is a rising senior and C.J. Sanders is a rising sophomore wide receiver that also is going to get a chance to play at a BCS school. The trio have tossed around the notion of teaming back up on the collegiate level.
"We've definitely had talks where, on the weekends, we could possibly go to the same school year after year after year. It hasn't been any school in particular. We've just talked about it," Gaulden said.
|Jalen Ramsey, another Tennessee target and teammate of Gaulden's, also visited for the Orange & White game.|
"It's very encouraging seeing that the coaches have been watching me and showing interest in me," said Gaulden, who grew up a Miami (Fla.) fan. "It makes me want to come out and have a great year this year.
"I feel like I have a target on my back because getting these first couple of offers there's going to be wide receivers and coaches coming after me just to test me."
The option to play high-level college football less than four hours from home intrigues Gaulden.
"That'd be good," said Gaulden, who considers Vol center Alex Bullard a friend. "My parents could come up and watch me perform — and my friends. I can really see that being a factor in my college choice."
The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder said the factors that matter most in considering a future university are academics, playing time and a relationship with the coaches.
In 2011, Brentwood Academy reached the TSSAA Div. II Class AA state quarterfinals, finishing with a record of 9-3. Gaulden paced the defense with 62 tackles and four interceptions.
The ball hawk broke down his strengths as a defensive back.
"I'd say my awareness and just my knowledge of the game and being able to recognize what the offense is doing over the span of a quarter, being able to relate that to my teammates and my coaches, being able to make the adjustments. Also, my tackling ability and my coverage skills is really good," Gaulden said.
"I try to pattern my game off Ed Reed. I just respect his swagger, his instincts of the game, the way he comes up and makes tackles. He's the total package at safety if you ask me."
Gaulden has used the track season to keep him busy and in shape, competing in the 400-meter, 800-meter and 4x400. He reports a 3.0 grade point average. He said he "wouldn't mind" majoring in History.