By John Patton
DUNNELLON — Admittedly, the opinion comes with its own biases, but it also is from someone who would know.
Gator fans, Jase Williams promises you are going to enjoy what you see when his teammate at Dunnellon High School, Maurice Goolsby, arrives on campus in the summer of 2019.
“That’s my best friend,” said Williams, a senior running back/defensive back for the Tigers. “With him, you get nothing but hard work. He keeps going and going until something is perfect.
“Everything he does, he does with all the effort he can give.”
In Goolsby, not only will coach Jim McElwain be signing a 6-foot-5, 197-pound receiver with the frame to comfortably carry 215, but baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan also will be adding a free non-scholarship left-handed pitcher who throws a fastball in the upper-80s to go along with a slider, changeup and knuckleball.
“I wanted to play both (sports),” said Goolsby, who was offered a scholarship by UF in the winter of his freshman year. “I’m very excited.
“Committing (to the Gators in June) was like a dream come true. It’s where I’ve always wanted to go.”
Goolsby said he won’t be looking at other schools in the next year-and-a-half before he officially can sign his national letter-of-intent, adding that the only thing that could derail his path to Gainesville is being selected early in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft.
But, that possibility can wait. For now (and next year), aside from being a fan and setting up a what-to-know discussion he said he hopes to have with DHS/UF alum and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Lerentee McCray, Goolsby’s focus is on Dunnellon (9-2 in 2016).
When he joined the Tigers two years ago as a freshman, Goolsby wasn’t much of a route-runner, but he was dangerous on streaks and jump balls. He improved last season, catching a team-best 21 passes for 276 yards and two scores.
He also recorded 39 tackles (eight for-loss with two sacks), one forced fumble and a team-high three fumble recoveries at defensive end. And, oh yeah, he may be the best punter in Marion County (a role Goolsby said he and McElwain haven’t discussed).
A first-team All-County baseball selection last Spring, Goolsby finished 6-1 with 68 strikeouts in 40 innings. Soon after, he watched the Gators claim the school’s first national championship.
“I felt like I had won the World Series, too,” Goolsby said with a smile.
Goolsby said he knows to officially share in that joy, whether on the football field or baseball diamond, he needs to remain relentlessly diligent. And Williams said that focus — one that occasionally allows for a relaxing day in the summer to fish, swim or play basketball — is what makes Goolsby different.
“He’s going to be ready,” Williams said. “He’ll make sure of it.
“I know that.”