B.J. Goodson: The best linebacker Clemson signed in 2011?

by - Senior Writer -
Goodson had 156 tackles his senior year. In a state playoff game against Ninety-Six High School he had 20 tackles, including eight sacks.

The Clemson Tigers brought in the best class of linebackers in the nation on National Signing Day, and most Clemson fans can tell you about Tony Steward, Stephone Anthony and Lateek Townsend.

However, in talking to the Clemson coaches, the one linebacker that nobody talks about might just be the one that people remember when this class graduates.

Lamar High School’s B.J. Goodson is a 6-2, 220-pounder who tallied an amazing 156 tackles last season, prompting head coach Dabo Swinney to say on Signing Day that Goodson “might be the best of the bunch.”

The big middle linebacker was rated as just a 2-star by some of the recruiting services, but one of Clemson’s defensive coaches told me at a basketball game last week that if Goodson had played at a more high-profile school – like South Pointe – he would have had 50 scholarship offers.

Goodson said he watched the announcements on Signing Day, and never wavered on his commitment to Clemson.

“I never gave it a second thought,” Goodson told TigerNet. “I was always going to be a Clemson Tiger. With the addition of those guys, and them making the decisions they made that day, it just makes our team better. And I am all about making our team better. I just have to go in and work hard.”

Goodson said he welcomes the competition that fall camp will bring.

“I look at it like I have to work harder than everybody else,” he said. “I am looking forward to working with Coach [Kevin] Steele. I am just happy to have the opportunity to work with someone of his caliber. He is a great person to be around, and he is a great coach. I know he is going to work me to death, but I don’t care.”

He said he heard all of the talk about the other linebackers before and after National Signing Day, and rarely heard his name mentioned. And that drives him even more.

“It’s almost kind of funny, because I was looking at all of my stats in the paper, and I was looking at all their tackles,” he said. “Among all of us, I had less publicity but they had less tackles. I just laughed, and my mom said ‘you have to show them when you get there, and you have to work hard.’ I am looking forward to it.”

Goodson hasn’t been told if the coaches plan to redshirt him or not – Steward most certainly will play and the Tigers already have Corico Hawkins in the fold – but he said he feels like he could make an impact right away.

“When I went up there to visit last season, Coach Steele used to joke with me and tell me that I could have helped the team then,” he said. “But I really do feel like I can come in and fit in right away. I am a versatile player, but a hard-hitting player. I want to be that physical linebacker that everybody fears.

“Everybody tells me that, emotionally, I remind them of Ray Lewis. And as far as my quickness, they tell me I am a lot like Brian Urlacher. That is amazing to me that I could be compared to players like that. I just want to be that guy that people look at in 10-to-15 years and they wonder ‘where did he come from?’ I feel like I am a freak of nature and can be that guy. I am just grateful for the position that I’m in.”

Goodson said he has been told that he has the wingspan of a person that stands 6-foot-8, and he uses that reach and speed to his advantage.

“It helps in being able to shed the blocker,” he said. “It’s good to have them in certain scenarios. I am just a versatile guy that can fit in anywhere. They started me out at middle linebacker, and I moved outside my senior season just to help the team. I can play with my hand on the ground. Heck, I even played wide receiver.”

He said he wants to use his talent – overlooked or not – to help Clemson reach new heights.

“We are going to have so much talent there,” he said. “It’s just a feeling I have that we are going to do something special. I would like to say that we can help make Coach Steele the best defensive coordinator in college football. And I really feel like we are going to win a BCS Title before I’m done, and I want to be in the middle of it.”

If he does, he won’t be under-rated anymore.

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