SOUTH BEND – There is a lesson to be learned from Notre Dame fifth-year wide receiver John Goodman – actually, multiple lessons.
Goodman will take the field against Wake Forest (5-5) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC) at Notre Dame Stadium for the final time in his star-crossed career.
The Bishop Dwenger High School graduate hasn't let adversity affect his attitude, which has played an integral part of the success of the third-ranked Fighting Irish (10-0) this season.
That is lesson No. 1.
“John really hasn't been healthy all year,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He's battled a number of different ailments, but when we've asked him to go in there, he's the center of some big plays.”
Goodman entered Notre Dame nearly five years ago as a highly touted recruit (21st-ranked wide receiver in the nation). However, that acclaim hasn't translated onto the field (just 32 receptions in four seasons), which goes to show that the recruiting evaluations being posted by everyone from former college coaches to teenagers in their bedrooms can and should be taken with a 44-ounce Big Gulp from the Great Salt Lake.
That is lesson No. 2.
“I know that people are measured, I know that I'm measured by wins and losses, but the relationships that (Goodman) has with guys on this team strengthens that group,” Kelly said. “I think he'll look back and say 'Yeah, I would have liked to have caught more and made more touchdowns and done all of those things,' but he is going to look back on the relationships and the strength that he has provided as a senior in this football program.”
Goodman injured his back against Miami in early October and missed the next two games (Stanford and Brigham Young), then he didn't get in the game at all against Pittsburgh, so he missed three opportunities to play in front of Notre Dame crowds in his final season.
That won't be the case for Notre Dame's final home game Saturday. Goodman is projected to be in the starting lineup, as a replacement for the injured sophomore DaVaris Daniels, for the first time since the season opener against Navy in August. And regardless of his impact on the field, Kelly believes that Goodman's impact off the field has been critical, due to there being a number of ways to contribute to a team's success.
That is lesson No. 3.
“He's a good teammate,” Kelly said. “You've got to have good teammates, guys that are great in the locker room. He's a positive guy. Guys really enjoy being around him.”
Goodman has had some moments of glory this season. He's caught just four passes, but two of those have been for touchdowns. He made a spectacular one-handed grab for a score at Michigan State and then brought in another touchdown catch (an 18-yarder) in last week's 21-6 win at Boston College.
“John has given us everything that he has in his senior year,” Kelly said. “He'll get a chance now to play a little bit more in the absence of (Daniels).”