IOWA CITY, Iowa - We haven’t seen the best of Tyler Goodson.
In some ways, he is a veteran running back in Iowa’s system.
In other ways, he’s still a newcomer — consider, for instance, that he just finished his first spring practice schedule, despite the fact he’s played for two seasons.
Goodson was the first true freshman to lead the Hawkeyes in rushing, when he had 638 yards in 13 games in 2019. He followed that with 762 yards in eight games in the abbreviated 2020 season, when he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection.
But there is more inside of him, and he wants to show that this season.
Which is why he said last Saturday, after the conclusion of the last practice of the spring, “I want to win the Doak Walker Award,” given to the nation’s top running back.
It’s strange to say this could be a breakout year for him, because it feels like he’s already been there. But his first two seasons were about sharing the carries with an older, experienced running back in Mekhi Sargent.
Sargent is gone, and with Ivory Kelly-Martin working to come back from offseason knee surgery, Goodson is the oldest player in Iowa’s running back room.
He has embraced that.
“He’s practiced every day with a great attitude,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The guys we think our really quality players, who have proven themselves as quality players, they’ve had a great attitude all of the way through the spring. That sounds mundane, that sounds routine, but you don’t always see that. Sometimes they think it’s spring break, not spring practice.”
Ferentz said Goodson, as well as wide receiver Tyrone Tracy and others, have shown how to set a tempo this spring.
“I know how to play the game,” Goodson said. “I’ve played the game my whole life.”
“I’m a firm believer in iron sharpens iron,” running backs coach Ladell Betts said.
Betts said Goodson has challenged the younger running backs, and in turn their aggressiveness to get better has challenged Goodson.
Goodson used the offseason to study film, to find those little things that might get him extra yards. There are things he’s seen he hasn’t liked, things he can tweak in his running style.
Betts, in his first months as an Iowa assistant, likes what he sees.
“Tyler has vision,” Betts said. “And when you have vision, he has the ability to put action to vision. Not a lot of people have the ability to do that.”
Goodson has his vision for the future. Bigger, faster, stronger.
“I’m on schedule,” he said of his physical growth. “Getting there, but slowly.”
His schedule as a running back still has a long way to go — a veteran player who is still young, a breakout performer who seemingly has a season even more special than the past in him.