Flames star wide-receiver Gandy-Golden shares his story
Most Division 1 athletes start playing competitive sports at a young age, but sophomore wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, who collected 192 receiving yards in Liberty’s first win of the 2017-18 season, spent most of his childhood climbing trees and solving puzzles.
“I never really was a sports person,” Gandy-Golden said. “I was just a little weird kid going outside climbing trees and running around.”
Gandy-Golden spent the first eight years of his life in Chicago, Illinois, one of the most crime-ridden cities in America. The unwanted sounds of ambulances and police sirens were common occurrences during his childhood.
Gandy-Golden’s single mother, Monet Gandy, wanted a safer location to raise her son. When he was eight years old, Gandy-Golden moved to the small city of Dallas, Georgia, escaping the crime-infested environment of the city.
“Where we were (in Chicago), there was a lot of violence,” Gandy-Golden said. “It’s a lot quieter in Georgia. You don’t really hear as many ambulances, and there aren’t as many police sirens.”
For entertainment, Gandy-Golden played outside and solved a variety of puzzles, the Rubik’s Cube being one of his favorite. He was distant from the realm of sports until his freshman year of high school.
Gandy-Golden had always wanted to play football, but his mother’s work schedule didn’t allow for him to participate. Once in high school, however, Gandy-Golden attended Paulding County High School, which happened to be right across from his house.
“I could pretty much play whenever,” Gandy-Golden said.
According to libertyflames.com, Gandy-Golden was a four-year letter-winner at Paulding County High School. He collected over 1,000 receiving yards as a senior and finished his high school career with six school records.
“I noticed I was getting a lot better,” Gandy-Golden said. “The bigger I got, the easier it got.”
Gandy-Golden quickly received attention from Kennesaw State University and Liberty University.
Although he admired Kennesaw State, Gandy-Golden said that Liberty offered something more important than a football scholarship.
“The recruiting process was great, and Liberty was the top of my list,” Gandy-Golden said. “At Liberty, the coaches were more for me.”
Gandy-Golden said the coaches at Liberty wanted him to succeed in all areas of life, areas that didn’t even relate to football.
“I feel like some other schools just try to lure you in with parties and all the glitz and glamour,” Gandy-Golden said. “And here (at Liberty), it was real. I definitely feel like coming here, I would grow in more ways than just being a football player.”
During his first year at Liberty, Gandy-Golden roomed with quarterback Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert. His new friendship would soon translate into teamwork on the football field one year later.
Although Gandy-Golden had only 315 receiving yards as a freshman, he improved tremendously his sophomore season. Through the first three games, he has collected 373 receiving yards and four touchdowns, including a personal best of 192 receiving yards during Liberty’s historic victory over Baylor University, Sept. 2 in Waco, Texas.
“Without him, there would be a missing piece,” Calvert said. “Even when he’s not having his best day, he tries his hardest to lift the team up and encourage us to be better.”
Gandy-Golden is currently pursuing a degree in graphic design, a subject that has always captivated his interest.
“I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with (graphic design) yet,” Gandy-Golden said. “If the opportunity (of playing professional football) presents itself, of course I’ll take it. But I’m ultimately at Liberty to get my education, so that’s not really on top of my mind right now.”
During his free time, Gandy-Golden still enjoys puzzles, and he recently picked up drawing. According to Calvert, one of Gandy-Golden’s best qualities is his ability to do unordinary things.
“He’s going to look at things and make it fun,” Calvert said. “We call Antonio ‘giant kid’ because he’s always playing. He’s a goofball.”
Gandy-Golden said the Liberty coaching staff has remained faithful by helping him develop as a football player, and most importantly, as a man.
“I just feel like there’s no better place to be than here,” Gandy-Golden said.