The NFC Championship Game on Sunday will mark Demetri Goodson’s fourth appearance in Seattle: twice as a Green Bay Packers cornerback and twice as a Gonzaga Bulldogs point guard.
“We played the Battle in Seattle,” Goodson said of his visits as a Zag. “We played Illinois, and Davidson was the last time I played. I had 26 points. That was probably one of my better games.”
Goodson also made an impact in the second round of the 2009 NCAA tournament, when his last-second layup against Western Kentucky sent Gonzaga on to the Sweet 16.
He played from 2008-11, averaging 5.1 points and 2 assists. He was a regular starter over his sophomore and junior seasons. But after the 2010-11 season, he faced up to a hard fact: There are more 6-foot cornerbacks in the NFL than there are 6-foot guards in the NBA.
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Goodson finally decided to switch sports and schools, transferring to Baylor and returning to football after a six-year absence.
“I just prayed on it and kept praying,” he said. “It really just came out of nowhere. Growing up and stuff, I’ve always had the talent to play. But to take six or seven years off and come back to it and get drafted and be playing to go to the Super Bowl, I couldn’t have planned it out any better than how it has turned out.”
The decision to pursue football might have seemed simple, as Goodson’s older brother, Mike, has been an NFL running back with the Panthers, Raiders and Jets. But Goodson’s heart was on the hardwood, while his father simply didn’t want any options ruled out.
“My sophomore year I wanted to stop playing (football) completely, but my dad said I was too young to go with just one sport,” Goodson said. “So I cried every day after practice. I hated it, but I’m happy I’m here now.”
Still, there were curves and bumps along the road to Green Bay.
Injuries limited him to eight games over his first two seasons at Baylor. The NCAA granted a medical redshirt season for 2013, when he received honorable mention on the all-Big 12 team.
After that, Green Bay grabbed him in the sixth round of the NFL draft, the 197th overall pick.
He has been eased into his rookie season with the Packers, appearing in six games and recording six tackles. But he’s used to that, having gone through something similar during his freshman year at Gonzaga.
“I think I learned a lot about being patient, waiting for my turn to shine,” he said. “(Gonzaga coach Mark) Few is a great, great, smart coach, and just being up there taught me a lot. Coming from Texas I was all by myself (in Spokane): had to do my own laundry, cook my own food and stuff like that. It also taught me how to become a man a little bit.
“I would love to be out there playing right now, but we have a great, great group of cornerbacks. I’m just learning and just going with the flow.”
He said his connection with Gonzaga continues.
“Few texted me a couple of weeks ago, told me he’s proud of me, that he’s going to be watching me and stuff,” Goodson said. “But I always keep up with the Zags.”