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Demetri Goodson hopes to make hoops-to-football switch pay off
Former Gonzaga basketball player Demetri Goodson gave up on hoops and transferred to Baylor to play football. He was a good enough cornerback for the Bears to be invited to the NFL combine and is hoping to be drafted.
Seattle Times staff reporter
INDIANAPOLIS – Seated inside Lucas Oil Stadium, Demetri Goodson did what nearly every prospect at the NFL combine had to do: He answered questions from the media for about 10 minutes. There was nothing remarkable about it.
Except that it happened.
“That’s why I left because of this option right now,” Goodson said Sunday.
Chances are, unless you follow college football or Gonzaga basketball closely you haven’t thought of Demetri Goodson in a while. He’s the guard who started 68 games in three seasons for Mark Few’s Bulldogs. He’s the player who hit the game-winner against Western Kentucky in the 2009 NCAA tournament.
He still goes by the nickname Meech, but now he’s a cornerback hoping to get drafted in May. He spent the past three years playing football at Baylor after leaving Gonzaga following his junior season. (He was granted a medical-hardship waiver at Baylor.) That was a forward-thinking business decision.
“I just thought about my height — a 6-foot point guard compared to a 6-foot corner,” said Goodson, who measured 5 feet 11 at the combine. “That was the big turning point right there.”
Goodson is expected to be a late-round pick, if he’s selected at all. But the fact that he was intriguing enough to get a combine invite is a small success on its own.
Before transferring to Baylor, Goodson hadn’t played football since his sophomore year of high school. He wasn’t one of those gifted-but-conflicted multisport stars who must decide which sport to play in college.
“But I was good,” Goodson said of football. “My dad didn’t want me to stop playing, but I kind of just wanted to stop and hoop.”
That led Goodson to Gonzaga as a prized recruit. He had offers from Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas Tech and was considered a top-150 prospect.
Goodson’s career started off promising. He was a contributor right away, and capped his freshman season with that icy floater against Western Kentucky that sent the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16.
“I still get chills every time I watch it,” he said.
He was expected to become a prominent player for Gonzaga, but his career plateaued. At the start of Goodson’s junior season, Few said, “He’s been the same. He needs to be better.”
Goodson’s playing time dipped during his junior year, and he never developed into the point guard Few wanted. Goodson took stock of his career after that season — he averaged 5.2 points and 2.6 assists as a junior — and realized his future in basketball looked grim.
He informed Few of his decision to transfer before the 2011-12 season. “He was like, ‘What? You want to go play football?’ ” Goodson said. “He was trying to get me to stay.”
Not long after leaving Gonzaga, Goodson said that he didn’t have much of a relationship with Few.
From there, Goodson ended up at Baylor, where he had to familiarize himself with a sport he hadn’t played in years.
“It really took me about six or seven months to actually feel good doing all the drills,” Goodson said.
He played in only four games in each of his first two seasons at Baylor because of injuries. But during his final season this year, he finally stayed healthy enough to generate NFL interest. (He still missed two games because of injuries.)
Goodson had a team-high three interceptions, including one against Central Florida quarterback and likely first-round pick Blake Bortles. He was also named All-Big 12 honorable mention.
Whether he is able to make his business decision pay off will be one of the draft’s subtly interesting story lines. At the least, Goodson’s put himself in position to do so.
“This is why I changed, just to be here,” he said.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277