Connally’s Kavian Gaither has played all over the field throughout his football career, so he didn’t wince when he was asked to move from quarterback to tailback this summer.
Former Midway quarterback Tyler Webb, who recently verbally committed to Idaho, will take over at quarterback for the Cadets.
That’s just fine with Gaither, who led the Cadets to a 12-1 record as a junior in 2019.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal, I played tailback as a little kid,” Gaither said. “Doing what’s best for the team is my concern.”
Gaither is one of the most dynamic offensive players in Central Texas as he rushed for 1,775 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 895 yards and 10 scores last season as the Cadets swept through District 8-4A Division II with a 6-0 record and advanced three rounds in the playoffs.
But he showed his versatility by making the Tribune-Herald’s Super Centex team as a defensive back as he collected 92 tackles.
“In my opinion, Kavian is the best all-around player in Central Texas,” said Connally coach Shane Anderson. “Obviously he can run, he’s a tough kid, and can handle adversity. He’s a versatile player who can play anywhere. He’s an All-American kid that you never have to worry about where he’s going to be. He’s going to do it the right way.”
Always ready for a new challenge, Gaither has adjusted to different roles in all four seasons that he’s played on the Connally varsity.
As a freshman in 2017, Gaither played cornerback and backup quarterback. During his sophomore year, he played inside receiver and safety before moving to quarterback last season.
After establishing himself as one of Central Texas’ best safeties the last two years, Gaither is moving to outside linebacker as a senior. The 5-11 Gaither has gained seven pounds to push his weight to 183 to withstand the punishment.
“You can never be perfect in anything, but making sure I know every position on the field can only make me better,” Gaither said. “I feel like I needed to gain a little muscle mass, work on my speed and get a little more ripped up.”
Gaither believes the added weight and strength will also improve his productivity and endurance at tailback.
“As a tailback, ball security is a big thing,” Gaither said. “You can’t be back there fumbling. You can make a lot of plays but if you’re fumbling that evens it out.”
Not only is Gaither a versatile football player, he’s also an excellent student. He plans to play college football, and said he’s drawn interest from Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana (Lafayette).
Anderson credits Gaither’s parents, Kevin and Becky, for teaching him good values and accountability.
“For Kavian, first and foremost it starts at home with his parents,” Anderson said. “They’re two unbelievable people who have high expectations for their children and have raised him the right way. Kavian has God-given ability, but he doesn’t take it for granted. You can count on him to always be there on time and work extremely hard. He makes the most of it every day.”
Gaither doesn’t just excel on the football field, he’s also competed in basketball, baseball and track at Connally. In track, he’s run the 400 meters, the 300-meter hurdles, and a leg on the 4x400-meter relay team. He also triple jumps.
Rival district coaches see him in competition everywhere and have a lot of respect for him.
“He’s obviously a very good athlete,” said Gatesville football coach Luke Howard. “He’s certainly a dedicated athlete who puts the time in. The way he goes about his business in the classroom day to day shows he’s committed to being the best. It shows up on the football field, the basketball court and the track.”
Robinson coach Robert Rubel believes Gaither will make a smooth transition from quarterback to tailback.
“He’s a very talented runner who sees the field well,” Rubel said. “I think he’ll do well in his move to running back. He runs hard and quick and has a burst. I know they graduated a lot of offensive linemen, but they always seem to reload.”
Gaither has been eager to help Webb any time he’s had questions about the nuances of playing quarterback in the Cadets’ offense. Webb starred at Bosqueville in 2018 before transferring to Midway last season.
“He’s a great quarterback who can move,” Gaither said. “We’re just making sure the receivers have a great chemistry with Tyler and that he’s good on the game plan and learning signals. He’s really taken on the role of the Connally QB.”
Like all of his teammates and coaches, Gaither has had to deal with the reality of COVID-19 possibly interrupting the season if outbreaks occur. But Gaither has remained positive.
“I know that not every day is promised,” Gaither said. “So I want to make everything positive out of all the negative things.”
After reaching the regional semifinals last year, Gaither wants to advance further in the playoffs this season. Now a senior, Gaither understands how important it is for him to show younger players the right way to approach the season.
“I just hope that if we do have a season we can play together and as a whole and compete to the final whistle,” Gaither said. “We had a great group of seniors who led us last year, and we learned from them. They were a great group of people. They worked day in and out on their craft, and always helped the underclassmen.”
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