Sept. 13, 2012
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Basketball was unmistakably Demetri Goodson's first love.
That's what led him to give up football after his sophomore year at Klein (Texas) Collins High School and eventually sign with Gonzaga University, where he was a two-year starter at point guard and hit the game-winning shot to send the `Zags to the Sweet 16 as a freshman in 2009.
"I've been playing basketball since about the fourth grade - traveling, going to different states and playing," he said. "Basketball was my first love."
But a little over a year ago, Goodson got the crazy notion to leave basketball and Gonzaga behind and switch to a sport that he hadn't played in five years.
"One day, my dad called me and said I should think about playing some ball again," Goodson said. "I just prayed on it and kept praying on it, and then one day I woke up and I did it. . . . I just always wanted to go back and play football again. And I started thinking about just life in general, that not too many people can do that. God gave me a gift, so I just want to try to do everything possible. I always knew I would be a good cornerback one day, so I just decided to try it out."
The younger brother of former Texas A&M running back Mike Goodson, now with the Oakland Raiders, Demetri had the chance to follow in his brother's footsteps with the Aggies. "But I just wanted to do my own thing," he said.
That's the short version of how the former Gonzaga point guard ended up playing cornerback for the Baylor Bears.
"Oregon and some other places called, but Baylor really stuck out to me," he said. "I don't really like the big campus like (A&M). I wanted something a little smaller. So this was definitely the perfect spot for me."
Despite the young-life crisis and transition from schools and sports, Goodson had worked into the rotation at cornerback last season and returned three kickoffs for 100 yards before suffering a torn ligament in his ankle on a kickoff in the fifth game of the year.
"Last year, I was just kind of getting my feet wet," said Goodson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior. "I had to learn all the defensive schemes . . . I was kind of lost. But I made some plays on kickoff returns. And then I had the ankle injury. So that ended it for me. I knew right away something was wrong."
Undergoing surgery a week later, Goodson said he was at a place in his life "where I was just thinking a lot, hoping that I would come back better, not really knowing if I would be able to play like I used to. I just started praying. And God always has a plan."
The toughest part of the injury was that he missed the Bears' game the next week at A&M.
"I was so mad, because I wanted to play against them so bad," Goodson said. "(Mike) is always talking about Texas A&M this and Texas A&M that, so I was really disappointed that I didn't get to play against them last year."
Returning for spring football, Goodson said things "started kicking up and my ankle started feeling better and better." But one of his best days came early in fall camp, when he got an on-field promotion to the No. 1 defense in front of returning starter Joe Williams.
"My whole purpose was me coming here and playing," he said. "So when they made me the starter, that was probably one of the happiest moments in my life right there, just because I came here and got hurt and had to go through that tough time and then fighting through it. It was just a blessing."
Making his first start in the Bears' season-opening 59-24 win over SMU, Goodson made seven tackles, one step behind the line and a pass breakup. But he was also flagged for pass interference on a Garret Gilbert pass to Keenan Holman in the second quarter.
"I thought he did some really good things," defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said. "But he had what I call a crucial error on the interference. We had underneath coverage, he should have been back, that should have been a pick. But he'll learn, it's important to him. That's what I like about him is it's important to him, and he takes coaching. He wants to get better."
Goodson admits that he was nervous at the start of the game. "But after the first couple of plays, I was just looking forward to the next one."
"I think Demetri's starting to developing a little more. He's playing with more confidence," said cornerbacks coach Carlton Buckels. "He's still got to learn to play great technique at any given time. He's got to make sure he's always in position, but I like him playing aggressive. I just want him to play a little smarter at times."
As a 5-11 point guard who scored 529 points in three seasons with the `Zags, Goodson knew his chances of making it to the NBA were extremely low. But he has the size, speed and playmaking ability to have a legitimate shot in the NFL.
"I think I have a really good chance because of my size and my speed at cornerback and just my talent that God has given me," he said. "I'm thinking that if I can put up some stats, I can squeeze in there (in the NFL Draft). But I'm trying to squeeze up into that third round, so I've got to make some stuff happen."
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After Western Kentucky tied it with a tip-in, Goodson drove the length of the court and put up a runner with 0.9 seconds left to lift Gonzaga to a dramatic 83-81 win and into the Sweet 16 in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. "Those are memories that I will never ever forget," he said. Goodson also had six points, three steals and two assists in a 68-64 upset of Baylor on Dec. 18, 2010, in "The Showcase" at American Airlines Center in Dallas.