The reflective thoughts arrive when John Goodman is walking across
campus, savoring the beauty of one last summer and fall in South Bend,
one that he didn’t always know would be there for him.
At times, he will observe teammates, almost all of them younger than
him, and think to himself that this could be a special group coming
And it’s at those times that Goodman truly appreciates where he is and
what he has, and that’s a 2012 season in which to play college
“I would have missed out on something great,” Goodman says, “if I
wouldn’t have gotten that fifth year.”
When Goodman arrived at Notre Dame in 2008 and subsequently redshirted
that season, a fifth year in 2012 seemed like a no-brainer. The
following year, when he caught his first career touchdown pass, a
64-yarder from fellow redshirt freshman Dayne Crist on which he showed
good route-running, sure hands and plus speed, it seemed cemented that
Goodman would be an integral part of the Irish passing game for a full
But his production never really matched that initial potential. That
touchdown reception remains the only one of his career; in fact he has
thrown as many touchdowns as he has caught.
He’s had his fair share of snaps at receiver, but never really has
become a vital part of the passing game. Last year the 6-foot-3,
215-pound Goodman was ND’s primary punt returner, and in turn, fair or
not, became the de facto face of what was a woeful unit.
So as the season dragged on, Goodman wondered if he’d be back in South
Bend in 2012 catching passes or somewhere else trying to catch on in
the real world.
“It was nerve-racking because I didn’t know if I was going to get it
or not,” Goodman said. “Towards the whole end of the second half of
the season, it was, ‘What am I going to do with my life after college
if I don’t get this fifth year,’ because either I get a full year of
college or I’m straight into the real world, and that would have been
a hell of a change from college football.”
Change was going on all around him. Classmates were graduating, some
moving on to the “real world” that Goodman wasn’t quite ready for,
some moving on to the NFL. They were also moving to other schools,
namely Crist, the displaced starter who is now the No. 1 QB at Kansas,
as well as linebacker Anthony McDonald and sixth-year tight end Mike
Elsewhere may have been a fit for those three, but playing a fifth
year anywhere else wasn’t in Goodman’s thought process.
“No, probably not,” Goodman said. “I’m all Notre Dame. I grew up Notre
Dame. I committed here for a reason. I wouldn’t want to switch
anywhere else and I want to graduate from here and stay here as long
as possible, and if I hadn’t gotten it, then I probably would have
just ended football.”
Instead, the end of his career will begin with Goodman likely starting
at the spot vacated when Michael Floyd took his talent, and a whole
lot of receiving records, to the NFL. Floyd’s departure left a big
void at the position, but Goodman has a resolve that he can become a
main cog in the offense.
“I need to go out and just take the position and make sure it’s mine
and not even let there be any competition for it, kind of like Mike
last year and the years before, how he went out and kept the position
and dominated on the field,” Goodman said. “That’s what’s in my head
right now — just dominating on the field in practice and for the (rest
of fall camp) and then going and (playing) Navy and doing the same
thing, if not beating them even worse than I could these DBs.
“You’ve got to have that confidence and that’s something I believe I can do.”
Through three years, the numbers that some expected of Goodman — as a
high school senior he was selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl
— haven’t been there. The touchdown reception his sophomore season was
one of only six passes he caught that year. That total jumped to 15 in
2010 but dipped to seven last season. In the meantime, the teams he’s
been a member of have compiled 7-6, 6-6, 8-5 and 8-5 records.
Expectations for 2012 are higher, team-wise and individually, and a
big reason why Goodman so badly wanted the fifth year.
“We haven’t necessarily accomplished anything yet, especially me as an
individual. I just wanted to get better. I totally believe I can have
a good season this year,” said Goodman, who seems more resolved, more
focused and, as a result, more grown up this fall.
“I just didn’t want to go out on the streets basically when I knew
that I had the ability to do something special. I definitely want to
leave my mark and I just felt like I had that chance and the ability
to do that. Now I do, and it’s really special to me and it’s something
I’m not going to take for granted.”