John Goodman has seen half a decade’s worth of opening days with the Notre Dame football team. Never has he entered a season, though, with as much responsibility as he does right now. That’s not the only difference between this fall the previous four for the wide receiver.
“You see guys at every position — two or three guys, not even just one anymore — that are leading guys and telling them what to do,” said Goodman (6-3, 215), who has 28 career receptions for 315 yards and a touchdown. “They’re sitting there and listening. This new class, there are a lot of guys that can listen and pay attention and follow their leaders. That was one of the messages that Coach Kelly had at the beginning and that was follow your leaders and they’ll take you to the promised land. That’s what we did when we came up.
“Every single position on this team has like two or three good leaders that can take these guys to the next step. We’re going to need [those leaders] all season; we’re going to need them along the way. You guys all know that you lose two or three players every year at least one game from injury or something. So, leadership is a big deal, and that’s something we’re taking a big step forward in and will continue to build on.”
Goodman’s extensive time around the program is a valuable resource, but it’s production at that position after the graduation of prolific wideout Michael Floyd that Notre Dame needs most. Goodman got off to a rocky start Saturday, letting the first pass that came his way (from sophomore quarterback Everett Golson) bounce off the numbers to the turf.
“The opening day is always kind of the same, because there are always those first jitters you want to get out,” he said. “The night before nobody can sleep. You’re nervous about the practice and about this and that. The nerves kind of always set in and make you tired out there. Once you get that first one out of the way, the second one and third one — it’s just like steps you take, and it gets almost easier every practice. You just have to keep your body right.
“The real energy sets in when everybody puts pads on, obviously. But we’re starting a season, and that’s the main thing that we all keep in mind. That’s the thing that keeps us going day to day. I mean, spring ball is kind of like, ‘eh, we’re starting spring ball but we’re not necessarily playing for anything.’ When you get to the season and when you get to fall camp, we have a game in 25 days. I’m really excited. The team looked good out there. Like I said, we were a team. We looked good on offense and we were [meshing] really well. Hopefully we just build on that every day.”