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April 15, 2011
John Goodman's final exam comes Saturday afternoon.
For the career reserve receiver, opportunities don't get much bigger than the Blue-Gold Game where a path to the starting lineup has been cleared by Michael Floyd's absence with Goodman able to sprint toward it now healthy following a left hamstring strain that docked him a few spring practices earlier this month.
Goodman's goals during his third spring regimen revolved around consistency and persistence in the context of winning a starting job. With an NFL hurdle removed from the depth chart, the product of Bishop Dwenger appears primed to prove he's more than Tyler Eifert's high school quarterback and the guy who caught Dayne Crist's first touchdown.
"I thought I showed a lot out there and hopefully that will show tomorrow in front of people," Goodman said. "Other than what the line does, I pretty much know the whole offense and that feels good."
An MVP performance in the Blue-Gold Game probably won't earn Goodman a starting job next season assuming Floyd returns. But it would signal that he can continue his incremental upward trend of the past three years, red shirting as a freshman, catching six passes as a sophomore, then nearly tripling that total with 15 grabs last season.
With the position woefully thin behind Floyd and Theo Riddick, the Irish staff has been begging for another reliable receiver to step forward. With TJ Jones battling an ankle injury, Daniel Smith sidelined by a hamstring and Luke Massa still raw from his position switch, that leaves Goodman and Deion Walker as the only options on the outside.
"Unfortunately for Goodman he's been in and out because of some nagging issues, but all these guys wouldn't have gotten as much work if Mike was there," said offensive coordinator Charley Molnar. "They've caught more balls, they've got more reps. There's been more expected of them, more demanded of them."
When Goodman walks out of Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday afternoon it will be his final test for the semester. The receiver will skip the college cramming tradition this spring, going final free in his major of Management Consulting, along with Crist. That means he might get into his summer lifting routine a week early, ideally picking up where he left off during spring ball.
For Goodman that regimen has meant understanding how to go at game speed in practice every play, catching the ball with more consistency and understanding the precision required to run routes. In those three departments, Goodman considers this spring a success despite the hamstring setbacks.
On top of that, Goodman has tried to find a voice among Notre Dame's wide outs, filling the vocal void left by Floyd. There too, Goodman believes he's hit his marks.
"That was my mindset, that's how I took it into the spring," Goodman said. "In the past, especially with the new coaches I didn't really know the offense myself. It was pretty much every man for himself. This spring it was a lot of helping younger guys and helping new guys learn positions, not just one position but multiple.
"Other than what the line does, I pretty much know the whole offense and that feels good."
Now Goodman hopes to feel the same way on Saturday.