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John Goodman shows versatility in switching from quarterback

Sam Gans | Thursday, November 17, 2011

When most football players arrive at Notre Dame, the position they play for the Irish is one they’ve worked at for years and years.

That was not the case, however, for senior receiver John Goodman.

Goodman, whose job for the Irish is to catch the football, spent the majority of his pre-college days throwing it instead. But it was ultimately his two years at the receiver position in high school that led former Irish coach Charlie Weis to offer him a scholarship.

“I was a quarterback my whole life up until high school and then freshman year [of high school], the quarterback that was a sophomore was in our coaches’ minds better for the position,” Goodman said. “So as I became a sophomore and junior, I was his main receiver for two years and [was on] punt return, kick return — all that stuff. That’s kind of what got me noticed, because they got me the ball a lot to make a lot of plays.

“And then as a senior, I came back to quarterback and our coach basically used me as a dual-threat type of deal. It worked out because obviously I got a bunch of offers and couldn’t be more thankful for [my coaches putting] me in the position to do that.”

Though Goodman has primarily played a receiver at Notre Dame, the former high school all-conference quarterback from Fort Wayne, Ind., has also been asked to use his arm on occasion. His 32-yard touchdown pass last season to fellow senior receiver Michael Floyd put the Irish up 14-7 in a 44-20 win over Western Michigan. Goodman also took practice reps at the quarterback position early in his Irish career.

“The thought was always up in the air because coach Weis knew I had played quarterback and the other coaches when they came to my games — I was a senior at the time so I was playing quarterback in front of them — so they knew, ‘OK, well that’s going to be in the back of our minds all the time,'” Goodman said. “There was one point where I think [former Irish quarterback] Jimmy [Clausen] got hurt and we were down to two quarterbacks and I was the next guy after that. So that was pretty fun to get to experience that a little bit again.”

But when Irish coach Brian Kelly was hired prior to the 2010 season, Goodman became a permanent receiver. The coaching switch and new spread offense also caused a difficult adjustment period.

“My adjustment was pretty tough,” he said. “It took a while for me to understand Coach Kelly’s system in general. Coach Weis’ system was slower. It was more of a pro-style type of deal. This is ‘go, go, go,’ so it’s a huge difference when you go from a pro-style offense [and] traditional to a spread offense.”

As a senior, Goodman has also had an increased leadership role on the squad, more through example than words.

“I think in our [locker] room, he’s a pretty steady guy and guys look up to him because they know he’s been here and done that,” Alford said. “He does things the right way, as far as living his life right and coming to work and not complaining. He’s not a real vocal guy by nature and that’s fine, but he’s done a nice job.”

Goodman, who will graduate in May with a degree in management-consulting, says he will look for internships once his playing career is over. When that moment will occur, though, is not certain, as Goodman has a fifth year of eligibility and could possibly be asked by the coaching staff to return for another year. Right now, however, he is not focused on the future.

“It’s just something I can’t worry about,” Goodman said. “If I don’t [get a fifth year], that’s life, but right now, I’m just trying to work as hard as I can, get in there and do everything I can in the games to help our team win and things will fall into place.”

With such fond memories of many great football moments during his time in South Bend, it is not a surprise that the thing Goodman will miss most is game day. And yet, it’s also not a surprise that, with two regular season games and a bowl game left, his thoughts are solely on winning.

“[Game day is] what you come here for — to play games and to win games,” he said. “And to see that atmosphere, it’s just something that here at Notre Dame you only see a few weeks out of the year. And it’s just something that’s so special that I’m definitely going to miss. But I can’t think too far ahead because we’re focusing on Boston College.”