Contributed by Cole Little
The Clemson Tigers’ defense from this past season featured an abundance of talent rarely seen on the college landscape. One of the unheralded and underrated linebackers was perhaps its most important player.
In 2015, redshirt senior B.J. Goodson served as a team captain and led the Tigers with 160 tackles. Goodson also posted 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, both impressive statistics for a linebacker.
Like several of the players on the defensive side of the ball for Clemson this past fall, 2015 served as Goodson’s first year in the starting lineup, a consequence of the depth the Tigers have boasted the past handful of seasons. The 2015 season proved to be a crucial one for Goodson in terms of making an impact and setting the stage for a potential NFL career. Fortunately, he did not disappoint.
Goodson’s final campaign was a satisfying end to a hard-fought collegiate career. He accumulated over twice as many tackles as he had his entire career prior to the 2015 season, and he served as a field general for the Tigers.
A native of Lamar, S.C., Goodson played at Lamar High School, the same school that produced all-time Clemson great Levon Kirkland and future Hall of Fame linebacker John Abraham. Goodson, too, made a name for himself as a Silver Fox, entering Clemson as a top-30 linebacker prospect. He was part of a strong signing class in 2011 that included current NFL standouts Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward.
Goodson followed in Kirkland’s footsteps by committing to Clemson, but the journey to becoming a starter that ensued was an arduous one. After redshirting in 2011, he was mostly used as a special teams player the next three seasons, gradually making a significant enough impact to garner more playing time on the defensive side of the ball.
Now, after tackling his way into NFL Draft discussions this past season, Goodson is ready to start a new journey. Considered by many experts to be a mid-round prospect for next month’s draft, Goodson impressed scouts at February’s NFL Combine by powering through 30 bench reps of 225 pounds.
While critically acclaimed for his robust strength and remarkable tackling prowess, Goodson has seen his speed questioned. He helped alleviate some of those concerns with a 4.69 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Goodson’s eye-popping tackling numbers speak for themselves, fully indicating his ability to quickly shed blockers and wrap up ball-carriers.
B.J. Goodson is a complete player. Despite just one season in Clemson’s starting lineup to show for himself as he transitions to the NFL, he should be able to earn a spot on a roster this coming fall and begin working his way up the depth chart. He is a unique talent, and his consistency in the middle of Clemson’s 2015 defense is proof enough that he is capable of having a solid professional career.
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