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Goodman mentors young players

Meghan Thomassen | Thursday, November 15, 2012

Graduate student receiver John Goodman enters his final home game at Notre Dame with 32 receptions for 392 yards under his belt and four touchdowns – one passing and three receiving. Behind the statistics, however, some instantly memorable plays stand out.

Goodman is best known for his performance in Notre Dame’s 44-20 victory over Western Michigan in 2010. The former high school quarterback hit receiver Michael Floyd with a 32-yard pass to put the Irish ahead of the Broncos 14-7.

Although Goodman only has four catches this season, they have been big ones.

During the 20-3 win over Michigan State, he made an astounding one-handed, 36-yard touchdown catch after sophomore quarterback Everett Golson improvised to keep the play alive. Goodman also snatched a late pass from junior quarterback Tommy Rees that led to a game-winning field goal in Notre Dame’s 20-17 win over Purdue.

Goodman made a similar play in the 21-6 win over Boston College after Golson extended the play with his feet. Goodman found space in the corner of the end zone and Golson fired a cross-field pass for the touchdown.

Goodman said this year’s game against Stanford was one of the highlights of the season, even though he didn’t see any playing time during the contest due to injury.

“When I think of my five years here, in my five seasons, there have been a lot of ups and downs, and [the Stanford game] was probably the most special game we’ve been through, because we had ‘College GameDay’ for the first time and I’d never experienced that,” he said.

But for Goodman, the 30-13 win over Oklahoma on Oct. 27 remains the most memorable contest of his career.

“I would say the coolest thing was going to Oklahoma and winning there because that was the most hostile environment we’ve ever played in, and probably the biggest game we’ve ever played here in the past five years,” he said.

For his final home game, Goodman said he feels the way he did during last year’s senior game, when he still hadn’t heard whether the Irish would take him up for his last year of eligibility.

“Last year it was really crazy because I didn’t know if I was going to get my fifth year or not, and I didn’t know if they wanted me back or not, so I kind of treated the last game last year like it was my last game. Seeing my class leave and then get out, but then getting invited back was wild,” he said. “But this is actually my last game and something I won’t forget.”

The Fort Wayne, Ind., native leaves the team known as a mentor for younger players.

“I wanted to develop them as much as possible,” Goodman said. “I knew there were younger guys who would have to step up. It’s fun watching them develop as players.”

As the second-oldest player on the team, Goodman said one of his younger teammates gave him the nickname “Grandpa.”

“It’s something I take pride in, they’re all my kids, I guess,” he said. “That’s something I really wanted to do when I saw this class coming in was a really solid class. [Senior receiver Robby] Toma and [junior receiver T.J. Jones] have made so many plays as well. When you have that much experience helping younger guys, you get better as well. I feel like a parent talking right now.”

Even though he is the youngest of four siblings, holding a strong leadership role isn’t unfamiliar territory for Goodman. At Bishop Dwenger High School, the same school that produced senior tight end Tyler Eifert, he moved to quarterback as a senior and guided his team to an undefeated regular season and No. 1 ranking before falling in the state semifinals.

But it was his two years as a high school receiver that attracted a scholarship offer from former Irish coach Charlie Weis. Goodman did not see any game action his freshman year but had his first career start against USC in 2009 and played in nine games during his sophomore year. He caught two passes for 73 yards, including a highlight-reel 64-yard touchdown during Notre Dame’s 40-14 victory over Washington State in 2009.

In 2010, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver started against Boston College, Pittsburgh and Navy and recorded 15 receptions for 146 yards. Last year, Goodman had seven catches for 65 yards.
Goodman said he credits his success to mentors from his early career, former receivers David Grimes, Robby Parris and George West.

“When I was a freshmen, I looked up to … those guys were guys who were here with me day in and day out teaching me the ropes. I just wanted to be what they are when I was a freshman, just to be the leader,” Goodman said. “They helped me so much to get to where I am and I thank them whenever it’s needed, whenever they deserve it.”

Goodman said he knows the younger players will follow suit.

“I think it’s just something about Notre Dame, that’s what’s special about it,” he said.

He said he wished his teammates well as he bids farewell to his time at Notre Dame.

“I’m happy to see that all the guys that left and went to play at other places are doing well, and I wish the best for them, especially all the guys at the NFL and the guys who are at jobs,” he said.

Goodman graduated from the Mendoza College of Business in May with a degree in management consulting and is currently enrolled in a graduate studies program.

 

Contact Meghan Thomassen at mthomass@nd.edu