This article is a part of our 2012 Player Projections series. During the summer months Blue & Gold Illustrated will be evaluating each player on Notre Dame’s projected two-deep depth chart — reviewing their careers to this point and discussing expectations for the year to come.
John Goodman caught seven passes for 65 yards as a senior last year.
John Goodman — WR
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 207
Experience: 35 appearances, 5 starts
Stats: 28 receptions, 315 yards, 1 TD
Irish wide receiver John Goodman is one of six players on the Notre Dame roster who came back for a fifth and final season of eligibility this fall. Goodman’s invitation to spend another year in South Bend surprised many, but it was something he had been planning on throughout his career.
The 6-foot-3 Indiana native has had few opportunities to contribute to the Irish offense while stuck behind all-time leading receiver Michael Floyd for most of his career. He hopes that his final year without Floyd will allow him to make a much larger impact.
“I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve wanted to,” Goodman said. “There’s so much left to be done here for me. I felt like my leadership skills have gotten better throughout the years, and I just felt like I just needed that last year. It was essential that I have it. Without it I don’t even know what I would have done. I was set since I was a redshirt freshman that I’m going to play this fifth year.”
Goodman caught only seven passes for 65 yards as a senior, which is slightly below what he averaged in the previous two seasons. His main role in 2011 came on special teams where he fielded punts after junior Theo Riddick muffed several attempts in a season-opening loss to South Florida. Goodman became the Volvo of punt returners for the Irish — safe and dependable, but severely lacking in style points.
His 0.6 yards per return average in 2011 is all the more surprising in light of what he has under the hood. Coaches and teammates say Goodman is one of the fastest and most athletic players on the Irish roster. Head coach Brian Kelly referred to him as “an enigma” last August because of his physical tools that have yet to show up on a consistent basis.
According to new offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, part of Goodman’s problem might have been a lack of motivation. With a clear path to playing time now that Floyd is gone, and the epiphany that normally comes with a college player’s last time through summer camp, Goodman and his coaches are hoping for a more consistent showing in 2012.
“He is as locked in as anyone on our team,” Martin said this spring. “To me, that was maybe his Achilles heel — just be 100 percent focused. If you focus just 80 percent of the time, 20 percent of the time you’re making mistakes.”
By all accounts Goodman is taking his role as the senior statesman of a young receiving corps seriously. And that can add to his focus heading into his last year.
There’s nothing on his résumé at this point that would suggest that Goodman is heading toward a breakout season, but the same could be said for Jonas Gray at this time a year ago. Gray ran his way to a starting job in the backfield midway through last season and finished with a team-high 12 touchdowns despite missing the last two games of the year.
Goodman is in a similar position as an underachieving veteran playing in a position of need for the Irish. His days on special teams are probably numbered, but Goodman can earn his touches on offense this fall.
What’s a Good Season?
It’s not fair to expect a Jonas Gray type of year from Goodman. He’s capable of that kind of a surprise, but he can still have a successful final season without becoming a focal point in the Irish offense.
Goodman will have a good season if he can become more than just a placeholder in the Irish lineup. If he can show even flashes of his reported athletic ability it will help to keep opposing defensive backs honest. He’ll be battling young, talented receivers like sophomore DaVaris Daniels throughout the season for playing time. He needs to add more than seven catches and 65 yards if he hopes to be on the field when his career comes to a close.