Rashaan Gaulden was pretty productive over his last two years at Tennessee, but he’s probably more known for an incident against Alabama.
After a teammate returned an interception for a touchdown against the Crimson Tide last season, Gaulden flipped off the fans in Tuscaloosa.
He immediately apologized after the game, but it is something that has come up as Gaulden moves on to the NFL.
At Tennessee’s pro day Monday in Knoxville, Gaulden said most NFL teams he has spoken to have asked him about it. He told reporters that his display was a result of his passion and emotion on the field. Oh, and one other thing: he hates Alabama.
Vols DB Rashaan Gaulden on NFL teams asking him about his viral salute. “I hate Alabama. That’s just the way it is … but I dont want to be remembered for that at Tennessee. I feel like I made a lot of plays.” pic.twitter.com/FHXUuTGcF8
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) March 19, 2018
“Most of the teams ask me about it and I came at them with the same answer. I’m a very passionate guy when I step on the field. I hate Alabama. That’s just how it is,” he said. “At the same time, I know that there’s no place in sports for that kind of thing to happen and obviously I don’t want to be remembered that way at Tennessee.
“I feel like I made a lot of plays and things like that. That’s not how I want to be remembered but I’m going to have to live with it, and I’ve definitely matured since then.”
Gaulden was criticized for the gesture, perhaps most harshly by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. Herbstreit suggested Gaulden be thrown off the team, but a few months later was quick to defend Baker Mayfield after the Oklahoma quarterback’s controversies against Kansas. Gaulden called Herbstreit out for the double standard and elicited an apology from Herbstreit, who admitted he was being unfair.
The incident at Alabama was in the midst of a tumultuous time for Tennessee. It happened just after the Vols scored their first touchdown in more than three games at a time when the team was down by three scores and staring at its third loss in a row. UT dropped to 3-4 with the loss and eventually finished the year with a 4-8 (0-8 SEC) record with head coach Butch Jones getting fired along the way.
All the while, Gaulden was one of the more consistent players in the Vols’ secondary, finishing the year with 63 tackles, an interception, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
He is projected to be a mid-round pick.
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