FORT WAYNE – When the few rows of wooden bleachers in the tiny gymnasium were filled, the younger students of St. Jude Catholic School sat on the floor, no less than 15 feet from John Goodman.
At a brief Thursday morning assembly, the former Notre Dame receiver returned to the place of his youth to tell the kids about the path he has taken – from his early years at St. Jude to Bishop Dwenger to playing with the Irish, and perhaps beyond.
One of the lessons he hoped to convey was about listening.
I remember when I was sitting in your seat like it was yesterday, Goodman told the group. I went here from preschool all the way to eighth grade. One thing I didnt do when I was younger was listen very well, and thats one of the things thats essential for you guys growing up. Listen to your teachers, listen to your elders, listen to your parents, because they know what theyre talking about.
Hoping to find his way onto an NFL roster, Goodman is practicing what hes preaching.
The 6-foot-3 receiver and return specialist is preparing for the March 26 pro day at Notre Dame Stadium, where football scouts come for one final look at the Irish players with NFL dreams.
Because this is a new experience – both the mental and physical preparation for what could be a life-altering opportunity – Goodman is listening to others.
Im preparing myself to where Im not going to be nervous, he said before the young students filed into the St. Jude gym.
I trust the process that Im in right now, and I trust that will get me to the next level and the next stage I need to be at. Thats something you have to have. Youve got to trust those guys youre working out with, and whatever they tell you to do, you do it because theyve been there before and they know what theyre doing.
Obviously I dont know what Im doing because Ive never been in this process before. I tried to talk to (Michael) Floyd and (Kyle) Rudolph and all those guys that I played with about it, but they can only tell you so much.
Now that Im actually in these stages, its a lot different.
Goodman, a 2008 Dwenger graduate who caught 35 career passes for 474 yards and four touchdowns with the Irish, has been working out at AWP and has employed former Purdue and Detroit Lions linebacker Roosevelt Barnes as an agent.
And hes listening to Barnes as well.
Hes helping me out and talking to teams, Goodman said. Hes like my dad in recruiting again, like when I was going to college; hes that figure right now.
Its going to be great to have him, because once I have a pro day – hopefully a successful one – hell be able to talk to GMs and coaches and tell them, This is what youre missing.
If only theyll listen.