If you were to take a look at Malliciah Goodman, you would think he has been playing football his entire life and that it’s fitting he is one of the top defensive end prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft. However, Goodman is still relatively new to the game.
Goodman has only been playing football since the eighth grade. He hasn’t even played football for half of his life, only nine years on the field. Yet if everything goes right, he will probably be on the gridiron for the next nine years (at least) and now at the highest level.
“My mom didn’t let me play city league because she didn’t want me to get hurt,” said Goodman on why he wasn't involved in football until a later age. After only playing football for that one year, he made the varsity team as a freshman in high school. “It’s been a fun journey,” Goodman finished.
From a football novice to potential top-100 draft pick, it certainly has been quite the adventure.
After leading all defensive linemen in snaps as a junior for the Clemson Tigers, Goodman was asked to take on even more responsibility this past season.
Goodman was the only senior returning to the Clemson defensive line that lost four seniors—Andre Branch, Rennie Moore, Brandon Thompson, and Kourtnei Brown—from the year before. There wasn't a single other upperclassmen, as his fellow line mates were all sophomores and freshmen.
Goodman had to step up, not only on the field but also as a leader.
“I had to take my knowledge of the games over the years and relay it to the other guys,” commented Goodman, who also said he thought he did indeed step up as a leader this past season.
The Clemson defense had to learn a new system this year.
Brent Venables took over in his first season as Clemson’s defensive coordinator. Goodman had to fill a variety of roles, being a versatile defensive lineman able to do it all, even kicking inside to defensive tackle in certain situations.
Over the final four games of his Clemson career, he had five tackles for loss and three fumbles forced.
While saying he “always wants to finish with the highest numbers,” Goodman continued by saying the most important part of the year was learning the new defense, “getting it down pat and bringing the group of young people together.”
Goodman’s leadership and unselfishness shined through when he said they need to “look at the big picture.” You only get four years to play college football, so it’s uncommon to find players who think about the future of the program in this way, putting others before themselves.
At the Senior Bowl, Goodman was joined by a couple other Clemson teammates: running back Andre Ellington and center Dalton Freeman. They were also joined by Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney along with a few other Clemson coaches.
“Great to see the support from him,” said Goodman on Swinney and the other coaches coming to visit them. “They have our back through all of this.”
Goodman got more than just a Clemson reunion down in Mobile; he also had the opportunity to go against some of the best players in the nation.
“There, everybody is good,” Goodman remarked. “There is a high level of competition and intensity throughout the practices.”
That is one thing Goodman did become accustomed to while at Clemson.
This past year, the Tigers offense was No. 6 in the nation in points per game, led by junior quarterback Tajh Boyd. In addition to Boyd and Ellington, the Tigers also had star wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.
Goodman broke down a bit of how practices worked in Death Valley.
He said that the offense would run a play, hurry up and spot the ball, hurry up to the line and immediately run another play. Goodman said that tempo of the offense helped the defense for communicating in that type of environment. He also had some kind words for his fellow Tigers on the other side of the ball.
“We think we had the best skill position players,” Goodman said. “Game should come natural because the competition in practice was so intense it translated over to the game. We were never shocked by anybody’s ability because of the speed we had on offense.”
Goodman enjoyed his time playing college football in his home state, saying that “a lot of passion and preparation” was involved during his time as a Tiger.
It’s very rare to find a man the size of Goodman. He measured in at over 6'3"and 272 pounds at the Senior Bowl, with nearly 11-inch hands and an 87.75" wingspan, both of which were the largest in Mobile, Alabama.
Goodman doesn’t take this athletic ability for granted though.
“I just want to be the best,” Goodman said. “Go out there and do everything I’m capable of.”
Currently, Goodman is in Atlanta, Georgia, training at Competitive Edge Sports Performance (CES), the same facility that trains San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, and one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game, Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos.
At CES, training for the Draft along with Goodman are South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor and wide receiver Ace Sanders, Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb, Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden and Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh.
“It’s intense but overall we’re having fun and bonding,” said Goodman on the experience. “Everybody is getting work in. We want to get better as a group and help each other get better.”
They are up early each day, starting their workouts at 8 a.m., and do a mixture of position work, speed work and weightlifting. Goodman has been limited in workouts early on though, not doing much position work due to a sprained ankle. However, that is healing, and he should be back on his feet soon.
It should come as no surprise to those who have talked to Goodman that his favorite NFL player is the late Reggie White.
Like White, Goodman is an imposing physical specimen on the field, but a well-mannered person off of it, who politely says ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’ frequently. Goodman most idolizes the way White played the game though.
“The way he played was so physical, he was so passionate for the game and how you saw that in his game,” Goodman listed as his main reasons for liking White. “He dominated offensive linemen play-by-play, game-by-game.”
Goodman is trying to become the first one in his family to make a career out of his athletic ability. He might have to alter positions at the next level if he wants to achieve that dream, perhaps playing end in a 3-4 scheme, but that’s something Goodman says he can get used to.
“I’ll adapt to it,” chimed Goodman. “I don’t have any problem playing (that position). I can learn and develop it. Everything takes practice.”
While most fans are worried about the stocks of each prospect, that’s something Goodman isn’t worried about himself.
“I haven’t looked at much of it,” Goodman said. “Just keep working hard and trying to maximize my potential.”
Goodman looks forward to the chance to play in the NFL and looks forward to getting back in the trenches.
“Competing with people and trying to be the best,” Goodman said, on what motivates him. “I love football most of all.”
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.