There were a lot more obstacles in the way for Raph Andrades to be a Gator than most that eventually show up on campus to wear the orange and blue. Usually there are a lot of schools that offer scholarships and Florida has to out0recruit them.
In this case, Florida waited until the night before signing day to offer a scholarship to Andrades. According to Gator Great receiver Jaquez Green, who also happened to be Andrades offensive coordinator at Lincoln, Andrades was hell bent on being a Gator.
“He had a lot of offers,” Green told FightinGators.com shortly after signing day. “He just wanted to be a Gator. He was saying (a few days before signing day) that he would just walk-on at Florida. He was really determined to go to UF.”
Green is proud of his star pupil and knows that Andrades will succeed at Florida because of his strong attributes.
He’s a good player and has the best hands of anyone I have seen in high school football,” green said. “His best attributes are that he is very smart, has great hands, and is a great route runner.”
Green came to Florida back in 1994 with the receiver class of all receiver classes that included four players that would go on to catch at least 1,000 yards in a season at Florida. He, Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony, Travis McGriff, Jamie Richardson, and Nafis Karim was as loaded a group as you will ever see show up on campus at one time. Green was asked to tell which of the group that Andrades reminds him of.
“I think he would be in the Ike Hilliard mold, but he has stronger hands than we had coming out of high school,” Green said with a short laugh as he conjured up memories. “I also think he is further along than we were coming out of high school. He is an A-student; his offers included Stanford and Vanderbilt so that goes to show you what kind of grades he has.”
Andrades has fond memories of high school and what he liked most was helping younger people succeed.
“I want them to think of me as a guy that was a role model for the younger guys and someone they looked up to,” he said of the legacy he would like to leave at Lincoln.
As mentioned, school is such a big thing… getting his degree is ever so important.
“I really want to get my education,” he said. “I really want to be very good in the classroom and the field. I want people to remember me as a great athlete and a great student.
At 6-1 and 190 pounds, he already has the physical size and strength to compete at the college level. The strengths in his game come from his route running and intelligence as mentioned by Coach Green. Still, he has worked hard at getting even better since he played his last game.
“I have improved my running and my routes since the end of the season,” he said. “There is always room for improvement.”
Florida has lacked big plays in the last couple of years and so there is little doubt Andrades will get a chance to see what he can do. He plans on making them look hard in his direction.
“They just tell me to be in shape every time I see and talk to them,” he said of the Florida coaches. “Even though we haven’t really talked about it, I plan on playing early. Even if it isn’t on their agenda, I plan on being ready.”
The hard work he has put in and continues to put in comes from a drive he has obtained because people have doubted him and it appears that some coaches on the recruiting trail told him things they weren’t willing to stand behind.
“If you would have known how my recruiting process went, a lot don’t really know,” he said when asked what inspires him to get better. “All of that added up and really set fire to me. Basically, there was a lot of doubt. A lot of people weren’t very honest with me about it. It is fine because it is part of the recruiting process. I just want to thank the coaches that were honest with me.
“Now, I just have something to prove.”
That something will happen, but before that chance came, there was another hurdle on the way to being a Gator. Andrades was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 30th round of the Major League Baseball draft. Money and a contract were thrown his way if he would skip college and make a life on the diamond.
As it turns out, this wasn’t much of a hurdle at all.
“UF, It’s always been UF,” he told FightinGators.com on Friday when asked if he had made his final decision between being a Gator or a Royal. “Word’s cannot explain. It is just a great opportunity all around.”
Now he has a mission to make Florida a better team.
“I want to be a difference maker in my first year,” he said. “I just want to do whatever needs to be done and whatever position they put me in… I am that guy that will be there all the time and there when they need me.”
He also plans on playing for the current three-time College World Series participants, the Gators’ baseball team and has been granted permission by Florida football head coach Will Muschamp.
“I definitely plan on it,” Andrades said. “He is okay if I play baseball and football.”