John Goodman sees his college career counting down by the day.
Deep inside the Guglielmino Center is a clock tracking the hours until the opener against Navy in Dublin, Ireland on Sept 1. The start of next season will be the beginning of the end for Goodman, whose college career has been a four-year story of frustration with a possible surprise ending.
“That just counts down every single day,” Goodman said. “One day it’s at 160, one day it’s at 140, it keeps going down and down. I’m outta here after the season. I have less than a year here left at Notre Dame.
“I’ve got to make my dream come true.”
The reasons why Goodman hasn’t yet are complex. He enrolled with Michael Floyd and got stuck behind the most prolific receiver in school history. Goodman has picked up hamstring strains and other injuries, admitting he hasn’t always fought through them. One regime change and three position coaches hasn’t helped either.
So if Goodman wanted to find an excuse why he’s made just 28 catches and why his only touchdown grab came in the final game Charlie Weis won at Notre Dame, the Fort Wayne product could find them.
Goodman did. He looked at himself.
“I think it was definitely my fault last year, the playing time, the catches and how many minutes I had total,” Goodman said. “Eventually I worked my way through the season, kind of like how I worked my way through the season just to get that fifth year to just work on the small things to get better and better.”
Notre Dame hasn’t shown much to the public this spring, but Goodman has turned enough heads that praise for the 6-foot-3, 207-pound receiver comes from virtually all sources. Even if the Irish work the run game and multiple tight end sets more this season, Notre Dame still needs Goodman to be more than a default starter.
If all goes according to plan, the fifth-year senior will be. He’s earned the confidence of the coaching staff this spring which seems to have created a feedback loop. The more praise Goodman gets, the more confident he becomes, the more he produces and the more praise he earns.
“It’s noticeable what a spring Goody is having. I’m really happy to see it,” said Mike Golic Jr. “He’s a guy who’s done nothing but work hard his four years. That’s all you can ask of anybody. Regardless of talent, circumstances, opportunity, we want guys that are going to come here and work hard day-in and day-out.
“Anytime you’ve got a guy that comes in here and busts his butt like that, especially for as long as Goody has, you always have people on your side for that.”
Goodman admitted getting moved all over the depth chart the past few years knocked him off stride mentally, a past problem considering the Irish have no receiver depth this spring.
With just six scholarship receivers, one being a former quarterback, the Irish can’t afford to take Goodman off the field. That’s a contrast to the past couple years when it seemed Brian Kelly wouldn’t risk putting Goodman on it, short of shagging punts.
“I was always just worried about whether I was going to come into that practice and they were going to move me around on the depth chart,” Goodman said. “That worry isn’t there any more for me.
“I go out and I know I’m going to be in that starting spot. I just have that confidence that I’m going to be consistent every day. That makes the biggest difference.”