When Tavian Gould steps onto the field for Brophy Prep in the coming weeks, it will mark the start of his high school football journey.
There is no telling where it will lead for the Ahwatukee resident, but it is clear Gould, like most wide-eyed freshmen, has big goals.
And with good reason.
The 5-foot-6, 160-pounder has already caught the eye of camp counselors at the Football University’s (FBU) Top Gun workout in Los Angeles.
It led to an invitation to Top Gun’s premier camp, which was held last week at Jerome High School in Dublin, Ohio, where Gould had a chance to gain experience and compete against some of the nation’s top upcoming football players.
“The competition level was higher than it was in L.A.,” Gould said. “It really forced me to push harder on every play.”
Competing against top-level talent just a few weeks before his first camp at Brophy can only help make Gould’s transition to the high school level easier.
“I’ve been working on improving my route running and catching so that I can be a better fit in the Brophy system. That’s what I tried to improve on most at camp,” he said.
Gould said he works to be an every-down back and to be a guy the team can rely on regardless of the situation.
“This past season, I didn’t score as many touchdowns as I would have liked. But now that I’ve opened myself up, I should be able to score a lot more,” he said.
Gould started playing football when he was just 6 years old. He said his father, John, had also played and that’s really what got him into the game.
“We come from a football family back in Virginia,” his father said. “I played in high school, and so did all of my uncles.”
John Gould played at Menchville High School where he was teammates with former Arizona Cardinals safety Kwamie Lassiter.
“I’ve always liked running back, and never really played another position,” Tavian Gould said. “I started with flag my first year, but then when I turned 7, I went right to tackle and have been playing that ever since.
“I did a season of flag again this last spring though to work on my speed and agility,” he added.
Gould, an honors student, said he’s watched NFL running back Reggie Bush since he was at USC because of what he was able to accomplish without being the biggest guy on the field. But Bush isn’t the only player Gould looks up to.
“Barry Sanders has always been my favorite. Just with his agility and speed, he really showed that size doesn’t matter,” Gould said.
Sanders played 10 seasons in the NFL for the Detroit Lions. He’s third in all-time rushing yards, and was only 5-8, and 203 pounds when he played.
“He was just so hard to bring down, and that’s what I want,” he said.
John Gould said his son’s dedication to that style of play is apparent in his training.
“He works so hard every day. I’ve been impressed by his discipline and his positive attitude. His goal is to make varsity in his sophomore year,” said his father.
While Gould wants to be an every-down back, he said there are just certain situations he prefers.
“I love first down because when you get the ball, you just try to get as many yards as possible, whereas with a fourth-down play, you’re only trying to get one or two,” he said. “I also love running off tackle because there’s a lot of space, but you’re still moving toward the end zone.”
Gould, who runs a 4.84-second 40-yard dash and has a 28-inch vertical leap, said the game is his life. He said he gets up at 5 a.m. every day to have his own workout before school.
“There’s not much to not like about the game. I have no least-favorite part. I just love every part of it,” he said.
• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.