Lynchburg, Virginia is considered to be one of the smallest towns in the state, but there is a widely known name that's included within it. Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden has continued make his presence felt and is now considered among one of the nations best targets as he continues to put up monstrous totals.
Up until he was eight years old, Gandy-Golden lived with his mother, Monet Gandy, in a small apartment in the inner-city of Chicago. A poverty stricken area, he experienced lots of crime during his childhood and it was hard to escape some of the events that he experienced.
He wasn’t raised within or even interested in sports at a young age. All he wanted to do was be adventurous by climbing trees, solving Rubik’s Cube’s, and play with his neighborhood friends at the local park. When he turned nine years old, he and his mother moved to Dallas, Georgia, which is a small town located just an hour outside of Atlanta. With his mother operating a single parent household and working rigorous hours just to make ends meet, he wasn’t offered the opportunity to play sports growing up, but that all changed once he attended Paulding County High School.
Given the nickname “A.G.G.” even though he was still in the beginning stages of learning the game as a freshman, he was eventually placed on the varsity team where he turned out to be the star of the team. As a three-year starter, Gandy-Golden finished with holding six school records and over 2,500 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns. Voted as the team’s Offensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, he received attention from many lower tier Division I schools.
His final decision was between Liberty and Kennesaw State. Earning the nickname “Giant Kid” because of his sense of humor, he played in 11 games as a true freshman -- recording 21 catches for 315 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Just scratching the surface of his potential, the Flames receiver started in 8-of-10 games as a sophomore and recorded a conference-leading 69 catches for 1,066 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
A scare happened prior his junior year (Aug. 2018), where he was involved in a car accident that resulted in him suffering a fractured right wrist, which he had to wear a hard cast on. He managed to be voted as a team captain afterward and the star wideouts trajectory stayed on the uptick -- tallying a career-high 71 catches for 1,037 yards and another 10 touchdown catch season. He became only the second receiver in school history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
He's once again up to his same ways, as he's currently second in the FBS ranks in receiving yards (728).
Where He Wins (+)
In many areas of the field, his sturdiness is shown, but it becomes most evident in the redzone. Gandy-Golden has a great understanding of body positioning and how to put himself in the best places prior to the catch process. Thrives on keeping his hands attached to defenders all while boxing them out to shield them from the ball. Contested catches are his bread and butter. Excels at outmuscling the opposition in many different environments. Strong infrastructure enables him to play through contact even when it’s excessive. High leaper that plays in higher than normal domains that defensive backs are not accustomed to guarding.
When asked to run vertical routes or ones attacking the deeper portions of the field, he’s wise with flashing his hands late in order to disallow wide reaction times for matchups. Late hand flashes enable him to get a head start on the catch process before face-guarding defenders can attempt violent swats at the ball.
Where He Must Improve (-)
When winning with releases to the sideline, Gandy-Golden faces conflicts with being able to maintain his leverage. Even when cornerbacks are at a disadvantage at the start of the route, they are able to recover by funneling him to the sideline instead of him successfully closing the door by stacking them. Securing wins by stacking over top and outrunning matchups will need to be an area that’s instilled into him.
Routine catches can be somewhat difficult because of improper hand positioning. Hardly ever clings his hands together prior to snatching the ball out of the air. Instead, he leaves his hands high and wide or flat and open. Proper hand positioning and comfort may be areas that come naturally as he’s continued to be force-fed targets.