Rashaan Gaulden’s road to the NFL

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Photo Courtesy of: Alexis Jordan

Rashaan Gaulden of the New York Giants seeks to make an impact after being waived by the Carolina Panthers and signing with Big Blue. The defensive back played in 15 games for Carolina in 2018, totaling 143 defensive snaps. He then appeared in 9 games for the Panthers in 2019. Originally the Carolina Panthers selected Gaulden in the third round 85th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Gaulden played his college football at the University of Tennessee from 2014–2017 under head coach Butch Jones.

Growing up in Tennessee

Gaulden was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game in high school. Gaulden was raised in Nashville,TN and attended Brentwood Academy and Independence High School. “Brentwood academy showed me a lot and helped me articulate as a black man. I used Brentwood academy as a bridge to further my success because I learned many valuable lessons but it also sheltered societal issues.” Gaulden said.

“Going to Independence helped me grow. Going to a public school is a lot rawer, there are no hiding issues, but every day I was determined to work and be the first professional draft pick from my school. I made it a mission to avoid alcohol and drugs in my adolescence and also graduate with my diploma. Independence gave me a home far away from home. A place where you still get the chills of being in your sanctuary on Friday nights nothing compares to Friday night lights.”

Gaulden finished 4th nationally in the 4×400 relay at the U.S. Track and Field Junior Olympics. Playing his final year at Independence he was a two-way threat. On defense, he accounted for 190 total tackles, 4 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles. On offense, he had 55 receptions and 12 touchdowns. After his time under the lights on Friday nights, he was ready to take his talents to the SEC.

College Football at University of Tennessee

“Growing up in the kingdom and having my parents’ poor wisdom into me, I find myself very fortunate. Many sacrifices were made by them, from private schools, you name it. They are a big reason for my success. I grew up with guys that were on the same mission as me. From pop warner ball with Jalen Ramsey, I played nearly a decade of football with him. There was never a question of what was next because we were born with that championship grit.” Gaulden stated.

The hometown kid stayed in state committing to sign with the Volunteers on July 20, 2013. As a true freshman in 2014, Gaulden played in 11 games, making seven total tackles. Gaulden then missed the 2015 season due to a foot injury suffered during training camp and took a medical redshirt. Gaulden returned from injury at full force and played in all 13 Tennessee games, recording 68 tackles, four pass breakups, and a forced fumble. In 2017 he had 65 tackles, 9.5 four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and 10 pass breakups. Staying in-state was always crucial to Gaulden as Tennessee provided him the outlet to succeed.

“Also, Derek Barnett going to middle, high school, linking up in college, and seeing him go first round in the draft just gives you a boost. The growth and maturation from 6th grade despite circumstances have us blessed and in a great position to provide generational wealth.”

The 2020 Offseason

During the offseason, Gaulden has been training to prove that he deserves his spot on the Giants roster. He is a reliable tackler who was solid against the run in the college, especially on perimeter run plays.” Gaulden continued, “Outside of Gaulden’s offseason workouts he has signed with a new management company and insures his community that he will make an impact.

“I joined Total 360 Management firstly because of the brotherhood. It speaks for itself as far as a group of people bonded by the highest form of energy to be able to trust them with helping manage, grow, and be a pillar in my community. I needed the challenge of getting out of my ways and branching out to not only impact my life and my families but also the people of my community and everyone I come in contact with.”

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Photo Courtesy of: Alexis Jordan

Gaulden expanded saying, “I will have more initiative. I cannot hold my tongue or wait on opportunities to present themselves as far as helping my community and getting hands-on in societal issues. And also that realization of knowing I have a voice and wanting to do more for my audience that either supports me whole or half-heartedly there is no excuse, and at the end of the day it’s not about me.”

While Rashaan Gaulden may have been originally signed to the practice squad he is making it his mission to prove he was worthy of being selected in the third round. One of the more exciting facts about the Giant’s secondary is how young they are. With the unprecedented nature of the 2020 offseason, Gaulden sets his sights on a roster spot and the 2020 NFL season.

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