Anthony Gould: Indianapolis Colts Rookie Files

Raised by an Army mother and moving across the country, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gould has found an NFL home in the Hoosier State.
Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) catches a pass during the second half against Oregon Ducks defensive back Evan Williams (33) at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) catches a pass during the second half against Oregon Ducks defensive back Evan Williams (33) at Autzen Stadium. / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Military families live a very unique life.

For families with deployed members, it can be years before seeing their loved ones again, that is if they return. Moving around the country is common, whether to different bases or as children who need to be cared for while their parents are overseas. It can be a challenging life and one that is rooted in constant change.

But it can also help mold someone into the person they are today. And it does not stop them from chasing their dreams.

This is "Rookie Files," a series on Horseshoe Huddle that gives you the backstory of every rookie for the Indianapolis Colts. Going player by player, we look at their journeys to the NFL and what makes each unique while also detailing how they help the Colts. Next up, Anthony Gould, a player who, after moving across the country multiple times, has beat the odds and found a home in the NFL.

From Leavenworth to Salem

Football player Anthony Gould runs with the football in a black jersey.
West Salem's Anthony Gould (15) dodges a tackle in an OSAA 6A quarterfinal game against South Medford on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, at West Salem High School. / MOLLY J. SMITH / Statesman Journal

Gould was born on April 6, 2001, in Leavenworth, Kan., to Charles Gould and Stacy Johnson. Charles was not involved in Gould's life throughout his childhood, leaving Johnson to raise Gould and his sister, Mahogani, as a single mother.

Johnson served as an Army master sergeant for 20 years, primarily in military prisons. While stationed in Leavenworth, Johnson served tours in Iraq and Cuba. Although the now-retired Johnson worked with dangerous people and took a no-nonsense approach with her children, Gould and his sister always felt loved and were instilled with morals they hold to this day.

“Having her in the military instilled some good characteristics in me. Helped me appreciate what I had,” Gould told Oregon Live. “Having a single mom in the military isn’t the easiest. She was tough on me, but she’s kind of relaxed now.”

Because of Johnson's schedule and deployments, Gould and his sister moved around quite a bit. He spent ages six through eight with his grandparents in Milton, Wash. Other times, family friends and those close to Johnson in Leavenworth who would watch over Gould. It took a village to raise Gould, but he understood from a young age that his mother's job would require constant adjustment.

Although his living situation was routinely in flux, Gould could always turn to sports as an outlet. While he loved playing football as a kid, Gould initially saw the most success as a wrestler. Wrestling was the sport Johnson saw her son having a future in, but Gould would turn his focus on football in high school.

Gould enrolled at Leavenworth High School and was used as a weapon across the gridiron. Gould played running back, wide receiver, and defensive back to start his high school career, even seeing time on varsity as a freshman.

Gould was moved to varsity full-time as a sophomore, tallying 32 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 536 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, and a kick-return touchdown. It was a fantastic season for Gould, but with Leavenworth going just 1-8, he was largely overlooked for awards and as a prospect.

Gould realized a transfer was needed if he wanted the chance to play football at the collegiate level. One option would require another move for Gould, all the way to West Salem, Ore. His aunt, Nikki Binnie-Anderson, was a math teacher at West Salem and had told Gould and his mother about the powerhouse football program.

Gould was sold that this was the right move if he wanted a future in football. After conversations between his aunt and mother, Gould moved to Salem to live with Binnie-Anderson and chase playing football at the next level.

“I was shocked because it wasn’t what I expected. He’s a mama’s boy,” Johnson recalled. “I just didn’t expect at 15, a sophomore in high school, to say, yeah I’m willing to up and leave for a better future and leave his mother.”

Johnson, who retired from the military in 2015, soon found a job in Portland to be with her son. As Gould and his family relocated again, the move would be the right decision.

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Anthony Gould signs his letter of intent to Oregon State in a white sweatshirt.
West Salem High School's Anthony Gould (far right) before signing to Oregon State in the school library on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. / Michaela Roman, STATESMAN JOURNAL

Gould enrolled at West Salem High School as a junior, bursting onto the scene for the Titans. Gould stopped wrestling after moving to Salem, focusing most of his attention on football.

Gould continued to play both sides of the ball at wide receiver and safety, posting 35 catches for 709 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns during his junior year. Gould helped West Salem to a 10-2 record and a league title on the way to earning All-Conference honors as a receiver and returner.

Gould backed up his fantastic junior campaign with an even better senior year. Gould finished with 52 catches for 1,009 yards and 16 touchdowns to earn second-team All-State honors at receiver. Gould also posted 612 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, and two return touchdowns to cap off an insanely productive West Salem career.

Gould also saw success as a member of the track team at West Salem. Gould was an integral part of West Salem's 2018 6A state championship in track, the first state title in school history.

The move from Kansas to Oregon was a success for Gould, who drew much more attention to himself. As a three-star recruit, Gould was the No.8 ranked recruit in Oregon for the class of 2019. Despite his ranking, Gould had yet to receive a full-ride scholarship due to concerns about his size.

The 5-8, 174-pound Gould was low on options, and his chances of playing Division I football were dwindling. However, Gould was thrown a lifeline when Jonathan Smith was hired as the head coach of Oregon State. A few weeks later, Gould received his lone offer.

Gould committed to play at Oregon State a few weeks later, taking the only full-ride scholarship he had. While he had shown he could make it to the next level with his move to Salem, Gould now had to prove his size would not hold him back.

Small in Stature, Not in Play

Football player Anthony Gould signals a first down in a white jersey.
Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) reacts after catching a pass for a first down against the Stanford Cardinal during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Gould arrived at Oregon State as the No.10 recruit in Smith's class. He knew it would be an uphill battle to have an impact early on his new squad, but Gould did not realize just how tough it would be.

Gould redshirted his first season with the Beavers, playing sparingly in just four games and failing to record a single stat. The same can be said about his second year, as Gould only played four games in the Beavers' COVID-shortened season.

Gould began to think about transferring, frustrated with the situation. Johnson told her son she would support him if that is what he thought best. But she told him he had never been a quitter before, so why start now? Those words stuck with Gould.

“It’s definitely a trait to be able to bounce back,” Gould explained to Go Long. “And unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have that trait. They don’t know how to deal with adversity. So that’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was little, and I’m thankful for that.”

Gould decided to stay at Oregon State and was rewarded with his first meaningful action the following season. Still classified as a redshirt freshman, Gould played all 13 games with three starts. Gould tallied 13 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown in 2021, proving to the coaching staff he was ready for a bigger role.

2022 saw Gould's explosiveness on display as he became a full-time starter. Gould hauled in 27 catches for 457 yards and three touchdowns. Where Gould did much of his damage that season was as a returner, returning two punts for touchdowns. His 18.3 yards per return led all of FBS as Gould was named a first-team All-American at punt returner and first-team All-Pac-12 at return specialist.

Gould was even better as a receiver in 2023, racking up 44 catches for 718 yards and two touchdowns. He continued to be a weapon in the return game, averaging 16.1 yards per return. Gould earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12, finishing his college career as one of the most electric players in the conference.

Gould had 84 catches for 1,360 yards and six touchdowns for the Beavers. As a returner, he had a career average of 16.4 yards per return with two touchdowns. For a player with only one full-ride scholarship, Gould made the most of his opportunity.

Gould now had his sights on the NFL, a dream that did not seem possible back at Leavenworth. The wide receiver accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl, where he returned a punt 80 yards for the East's lone touchdown of the day. Gould was picking up where he left off with the Beavers.

Gould also showed off his athleticism (8.87 RAS) at the NFL Scouting Combine. He ran a blistering 4.39 40-yard dash with a tremendous 39.5-inch vertical. While he only measured in at 5-8 and 180 pounds, there was no denying Gould's explosiveness and ability as a returner.

Those two qualities of Gould's were exactly what the Colts were looking for. As the fifth round came along, the Colts saw an opportunity to strengthen the depth in their wide receiver room and add a weapon in the return game. For those reasons, Gould was taken by the Colts with the No.142 pick, giving him a home in Indianapolis.

How Gould Helps the Colts

Football player Anthony Gould runs with the football in a black jersey,
Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) runs the ball during the first half against the Stanford Cardinal at Reser Stadium. / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

When the new kickoff rules were announced this offseason, Chris Ballard saw an opportunity for the Colts to gain an edge. A player like Gould, who can add a dangerous return element to special teams, is a huge advantage moving forward.

While Gould did most of his damage as a punt returner with the Beavers, he projects to handle kickoff returns for the Colts as well. The new kickoff rules put players on both sides much closer from the beginning of the play, which could create big-play opportunities. For a fifth-round pick, finding an impactful role on special teams will ensure Gould sees the field right away.

Many see Gould's initial role with the Colts as a core special teams player, giving Indy an electric weapon on that side of the ball that they have not had since Nyheim Hines or Isaiah Rodgers Sr. But Gould believes he can make an impact as a returner and a wideout for the Colts.

While Gould will need to work on his hands as he enters the league, the athletic wide receiver has fantastic speed and explosiveness, with experience as an outside receiver and in the slot. That versatility will allow head coach Shane Steichen to use Gould in a variety of ways on offense.

Gould rounds out a Colts wide receiver room that, with second-round pick Adonai Mitchell, adds two explosive playmakers to the equation. The Colts are projected to have their most talented receiver group in years, and while Gould is expected to be the return man, he could hold down a role similar to Isaiah McKenzie last season. Gould's speed and explosiveness give him a chance to be a gadget player in the Colts offense and the backup slot from Day 1.

After moving from Leavenworth to Milton and back, from Leavenworth to Salem to Corvallis, and all of the stops in between, Gould is undergoing one final move to his NFL home. Carrying the values instilled by his mother, Gould is not satisfied with just getting to the NFL. He is determined to stay and be productive for a very long time.

And hopefully, Indianapolis can be the city Gould calls home for the foreseeable future.


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Andrew Moore

ANDREW MOORE

Andrew Moore is the Senior Analyst for Horseshoe Huddle and an Indianapolis Colts expert. Andrew is also the co-host of the Horseshoe Huddle Podcast and the former co-host of A Colts Podcast.