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Goodman looks and plays like a star

POSTED: October 14, 2007 5:06 a.m.
ATHENS - Demiko Goodman walked into the room with the look of a star: flawlessly shined leather shoes, a gaudy, greenish shirt with stylish splatters of paint-like spots, all accessorized with an attention-grabbing gold chain dangling from his neck.

Georgia coach Mark Richt even stopped by to give his review.

"You’re looking good, son," Richt said.

"Just trying to get on your level, coach," Goodman replied.

The junior receiver is not just dressing the part. Already blessed with a track star’s speed, Goodman has fully recovered from a knee injury and gave a tantalizing glimpse of his potential with a touchdown catch at Tennessee last week.

Matthew Stafford lofted the ball toward the 6-foot-2 Goodman, who was tightly guarded by a Tennessee defender but leaped over him, somehow pulling the ball down as they both tumbled into the end zone.

Too bad the Bulldogs were losing 28-0 at the time, or Goodman would have been a star on SportsCenter. As it was, the touchdown was largely overlooked in the 35-14 loss to the Volunteers.

"He made a spectacular catch," Richt said. "It’s a shame it wasn’t more meaningful."

Even Goodman was impressed at himself after he watched the play again on video. But he vowed that it won’t be the last highlight he provides in a college career that’s taken a little while to get untracked.

Coming out of high school, he was redshirted in 2004 and played sparingly his first season on the field. His best work actually came on the track team, where he broke the school indoor record in the 400 meters and helped the Bulldogs finish third in the 1,600 relay at the Southeastern Conference outdoor championships.

"I took my time," Goodman said. "Some people, it takes a little longer to get started."

Richt was enamored with the speed, but wondered if Goodman was ready to make a total commitment to football.

"That first year, he was trying to gel football and track," the coach remembered. "I’m not sure he was really ready to get after this football thing."

Goodman finally got after it as a sophomore, appearing in 10 games and making two starts before another setback: a season-ending knee injury. Goodman actually tore up the knee during the first quarter of a loss to Kentucky, but played the rest of the game. The next day, he learned that he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament, requiring surgery that knocked him out of the final three games.

"Last year, he did get serious and made some great strides," Richt said. "He was making plays for us. He was playing with energy and confidence. Then, he finds out that he’s got a torn ACL."

Goodman was diligent about his rehab — "I almost tore my ACL again trying to come back" — and returned quicker than expected, though he was still bit tentative during preseason drills and the first few games.

But, based on his performance at Tennessee, he seems to have earned more playing time, perhaps even a crack at starting.

No. 24 Georgia (4-2, 2-2 SEC) is looking to steady its up-and-down offense, which moved the ball well in victories over Alabama and Mississippi but failed to score a touchdown against South Carolina and put up a feeble response when Tennessee raced to a 28-point lead in the first half.

Goodman has plenty of speed. He clearly can jump. "And he’s got a mean streak in him, too," Richt added. "He’ll go after you blocking. He’s definitely going to get more opportunities."

Meanwhile, Goodman is pondering a return to track after a two-year layoff. He’s still got some unfinished business in that sport, too.

"I think a lot of people forgot how fast I really am," he said, showing all the confidence of a star. "I have to go out there and show them."



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