(Note: This is the first in a series of fictional memos from Notre Dame’s No. 1 fan to key players for the 2012 Fighting Irish.)
To: John Goodman
From: Goldy Domer, #1 Irish Fan
Subject: Your final year of eligibility
Four years goes by quickly, doesn’t it? It seems like only yesterday we were hearing stories of your schoolboy exploits in Fort Wayne. You were dazzling people with your athleticism and speed — playing both wide receiver and quarterback, being named an Army All-American — it was like we’d never even miss Jeff Samardzija.
We all waited patiently that first year, understanding that there was quite the transition period from Bishop Dwenger quarterback to Notre Dame wide receiver. Those 95 miles from Fort Wayne to South Bend — likely spent dodging speeding tickets in small towns like Avilla, Wolcottville and Lagrange — probably felt a lot like that season for you, waiting to just get there already, waiting to finally… arrive.
We thought we all witnessed that moment. There you were, out in the slot — looking at your soon-to-be partner-in-crime, Dayne Crist, breaking off that post route and running away from a defensive back for a blink-and-you-missed it touchdown. Sure, it was a garbage time score against a lousy Washington State team, but it felt perfect. (Almost 40,000 views later, it still feels mighty good.)
But here’s the thing, John. We’d sure like to see it again.
Maybe it’s because we’ve watched that video so many times, but we thought we’d see plenty of you — making plays, using that size and speed we’ve heard so much about — but it just hasn’t happened yet. Yeah, it’s been a mixed bag at quarterback, but we kind of always thought we’d see you put together some dominant performances. Remember that crossing route you took for 30 yards against Miami in the Sun Bowl? My hands were numb, but I hope you heard me cheering from the stands in El Paso. Remember that nice catch in traffic against Wake Forest? Me too! I took the trip to Tobacco Road just for that. Wouldn’t it be great to see that every Saturday?
I’m sure you realize this John, but Michael Floyd is going to be playing on Sundays next season. That means there’s room for a different six-foot-three wide receiver for the Irish to step up and make plays. There’s no reason it can’t be you, is there? Aren’t you faster than Mike? Can’t you jump practically out of the gym? We’ll give you a pass on punt returns, but we know it’s got to mean something that the coaches trust your hands more than any other set on the team. I’m not Brian Kelly, but it sure seems like a guy with your size, speed and hands should have a lot more than seven catches in 13 games. (Fair catches excluded, obviously.)
Thanks to a recruiting class that left a few open seats on the bus, you’re probably going to get a chance to spend a fifth season in the Irish football program. Wouldn’t it be great if you took your cues from Jonas Gray, a senior who had a lightbulb go off and put together a memorable final year in South Bend? Turn back the clock 12 months. Nobody thought he’d be at the NFL Combine. With a little hard work maybe that could be you next year, too.
Here’s the thing, John. We know you’re a good kid with a quirky sense of humor. But there are a whole lot of those guys at Notre Dame — every dorm is filled with them. We don’t want to change you. But we’d love it if you were the good kid with a quirky sense of humor that also caught 50 balls and became a terror in the red zone. Too much to ask?
Take it from an old washed-up nobody like me, John. College is one of the best times in your life. All those drives between home and school, all those stoplights that made it seem like you could ride a bike to South Bend faster than drive a car. Think that’s frustrating? They’ll be nothing compared to that drive ten years from now, if you leave some gas in your tank this offseason during strength and conditioning drills.
See you next year in Dublin. I’ll be the guy in green cheering you on.