He woke up at 4:30 a.m. three times a week, stared at his bedroom ceiling for about 10 minutes and questioned everything.
John Goodman knew the reason his alarm clock went off. He had to go to the gym for intense workouts before finishing his final days at Bishop Dwenger. Goodman may have worked harder than he ever had before as he closed his high school career.
And each time he asked himself, “What am I doing with my life?”
If Goodman plans on playing as a freshman wide receiver for Notre Dame, he had no choice but to put in the hard work. So he dragged himself out of bed – standing up was the hardest part – and went downstairs. He ate a small bowl of cereal and drank a big glass of water before he drove to Absolute Results Personal Fitness Training for personalized sessions with Jason Rubin and Mike Pratt.
Goodman, who was often the youngest and only non-staff member at the gym, would run a mile and lift weights.
One day he’d work on his back and biceps. Another he would focus on his chest and triceps. The third day he worked on his legs.
“You wouldn’t think it’s hard, but it’s hard to think about what you’re doing this for at 4:30 in the morning,” Goodman said. “But I do, and I realize it’s for something special.”
Goodman’s dedication started when Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis offered him a scholarship before a basketball practice.
The day after Dwenger’s season ended in March 2007, he committed to the Irish.
Goodman is officially part of Notre Dame, having finished his first week of summer classes.
But to become a factor in football, he knew he had to add muscle to a frame that looks more suited for a basketball player or hurdler than a wide receiver.
When Goodman started training, his lack of strength was obvious. He could only lift 225 pounds “two or three reps,” Rubin said. Goodman, who had played sports every season at Dwenger, had never focused on getting stronger.
The first week was the worst.
“After that week, I lost eight pounds because they break you down and it’s just horrible,” Goodman said. “It’s absolutely horrible. Your muscles are getting back into it and you’re absolutely sore from head to toe and you don’t want to do anything. You’re miserable.”
Goodman never missed a workout and slowly, the results showed.
By May, he was lifting 225 pounds five times and regained all the weight he had lost, plus a couple of pounds to reach 194.
On his last 225-pound test before leaving for Notre Dame, he reached between 12 and 15 reps. Not bad for a kid who said he never had upper-body strength.
“He has tons of potential to grow,” Rubin said. “I could see him 30 pounds heavier.
“He is definitely very, very toned. He’s got true muscle, but he has definite mass he can put on and he will. Twenty to 30 pounds of muscle mass he can put on without losing speed.”
After the hour-and-a-half workout, Goodman would go home, take a nap, eat his second meal of the day – two peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches without the crust, a chocolate chip muffin and apple juice – and leave for school by 7 a.m..
Less than two days later, he’d start all over again to prepare for his Notre Dame career.
“It’s also in the back of my mind a dream come true,” Goodman said. “I don’t think about that enough. I kind of forgot about that. I kind of got to the point where I was scared, but I’ve gone back to remembering that it’s a dream.
“I’ll be living the dream once I’m up there.”
Even if the dream means losing sleep.