Baylor cornerback’s switch from basketball could mean NFL payday

05/05/2014 8:09 PM

05/06/2014 4:42 PM

If former Baylor cornerback Demetri Goodson is not the most interesting prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft, he is on the short list of candidates.

Goodson (5-foot-11, 194 pounds) is the only player hoping to hear his name called in New York who has started in both a BCS bowl game and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He did so for two different schools.

The younger brother of NFL veteran Mike Goodson, a former Texas A&M running back, Demetri spent three seasons playing point guard at Gonzaga before becoming a play-making member of the Baylor Bears’ secondary. A two-year starter at Gonzaga, he transferred to Baylor in August, 2011 because he thought he had a better long-term future in the NFL than the NBA.

By Saturday night, Goodson will learn if his switch of sports will make him an NFL draftee, like his older brother, or if he will head to training camp as an undrafted free agent. Either option is possible, based on pre-draft projections by NFL scouts.

Goodson, who ran a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, is rated as the No. 49 player at his position by CBSSports.com. That places him on the borderline between a final-round pick and an undrafted free agent.

But Goodson, who has been ranked as high as the No. 33 cornerback available by other analysts, has met with multiple teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans. He is counting on his athleticism and versatility (29.8-yard career kickoff return average) to carry the day in New York, where multiple prospects from Big 12 and Texas colleges will be hoping to hear their names called when the three-day draft begins Thursday.

Goodson also is coming off a breakthrough senior season. He led the Bears in interceptions (3) and pass breakups (16) while starting in 10 of 11 games for the Big 12 champions. Goodson, who logged 26 tackles, finished as the Big 12 leader in pass breakups per game (1.45).

In Goodson’s estimation, he’s answered critics who questioned his decision to vacate his role as the starting point guard on a Sweet 16 team in favor of an uncertain future in football. Among the doubters: Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few.

“Coach Few said I would be crazy [to leave]. He thought I was just a football athlete who thought I could do it,” Goodson said, reflecting on his departure from his initial school. “A couple of people thought I was crazy, but I knew my capabilities. Football always came natural to me.”

In his Baylor career, Goodson played in 19 games, made 43 tackles (38 solo), broke up 19 passes and made four interceptions over three seasons. Two of the seasons were cut short by an ankle injury (2011) and a broken arm (2012). The ailments enabled Goodson to receive a medical redshirt to play in 2013.

It proved to be his most productive football seasons since 2005, when he was a sophomore starter for the varsity team at Klein Collins High School in suburban Houston. Goodson did not play football in his final two seasons of high school, focusing instead on basketball and track.

Baylor coach Art Briles envisions Goodson having a successful career at the next level.

“He has a future past us,” Briles said. “When we took him a couple of years ago, we thought he would be able to come out and upgrade us from an athletic standpoint and make plays on the field. He’s done that, and he’s really done well.

“When you think about it, if you are a point guard, you are handling the basketball and playing defense. When you’re playing cornerback, there’s a lot of similarities that cross over. You’re isolated and you have a guy to cover. It’s not that hard of a transfer when you have a guy with the athletic ability like Demetri has.”

By Saturday night, Goodson will learn if he will be asked to transfer those skills to the NFL as a draftee or a free agent.

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