TAMPA, Fla. — Gator Nation got a jolt of enthusiasm Friday from Richard Gouraige.
The 4-star offensive tackle from Cambridge Christian School (Tampa, Fla.) sent Florida football fans into a frenzy when he released his commitment video.
As the tweet took off and news got out, Gouraige wasn’t celebrating. He didn’t obsess over the attention, text messages and Twitter notifications.
No, the big man was in a team meeting for some last-minute game prep.
“My main goal in life is win at everything I do with football,” Gouraige said. “It’s my only way out. Whatever I gotta do, I do it. I don’t have an excuse.”
His mother, Kerlange, never had one. Her journey from Haiti to the United States serves as constant motivation for Gouraige.
“She only came with the clothes on her back,” Gouraige said. “So coming over here was pretty hard. She had to go to school and work three jobs. Could barely speak English. She only knew Creole and French, so she struggled.”
Gouraige wakes up regularly at 6 a.m., whether it be for practice, school or team workouts. He’s also used to being up that early.
“From the time I was little, my mom would wake me up at 5 in the morning every day to ride the bus,” Gouraige said. “Growing up, it was kind of rough for me before my siblings were born. But seeing my mom make it through all that, it taught me a lot.”
Specifically? How to deal with failure.
“Don’t let it bring you down,” Gouraige said. “Let your failure fuel you. Add more gas to that fire.”
Gouraige is one of the nation’s top prospects at his position and accumulated more than 35 offers. But when his mother and siblings shared his desire to attend Florida, the decision was a done deal.
“I’m just ready to play football, which is what I love,” Gouraige said. “I don’t really care about this recruiting process. I’m grateful to be here and humbled by it. But at the end of the day, you still have to go on the field and be a dog.
“I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to play football and stay off the streets. It led me to a better path really. That’s why I got this chip on my shoulder and it makes me keep working hard every day.”
Gouraige has NFL aspirations after college and hopes to return to Haiti one day and build houses with non-profit organizations.
His mother already has.
“I want to help,” Gouraige said. “I’ve been to Haiti once. It’s hot, but there’s always dancing. That’s my culture and I just love those people.
“I want to give back and show appreciation for the way they raised my mom, because she’s a very strong lady. You can’t get another lady like her.”