Michael Floyd's departure from South Bend is a big loss for the Fighting Irish—but for wide receiver John Goodman, it's an opportunity.
With Floyd leaving for the NFL, Goodman, a fifth-year senior, will have the opportunity to step up and fill the void. By all indications, he's the go-to guy at this point, at least according to head coach Brian Kelly.
Kelly told ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna:
He has stepped up his game considerably, and he's got a ways to go, but I expect him to do really big things for us. He's fast—he's one of the fastest guys on the team. He's got length. He can play taller than the average defensive back. I think more than anything else is just consistency with John. He's going to have a really fine year for us.
Losing Floyd hurts the Irish. The receiver, who should be one of the first off the board in the draft this April, had 100 receptions for 1,147 yards and nine touchdowns for the Irish in 2011. Throughout his career, he had 271 receptions for 3,686 yards and 37 TDs.
Replacing his production will be a top priority for the Irish this spring, and the 6'3" Goodman is now in the hunt for Floyd's job as the No. 1 target on the Irish. Though Goodman's production was limited last season—in six games, he registered no more than two receptions per game—the coaching staff, not to mention the defensive backs on his team, have taken notice of his potential this spring. Goodman and the coaches are all confident in his ability to step up next fall.
Offensive coordinator Chuck Martin told Fortuna, "I always saw ability. We try to cover—he's hard to cover. We cover good receivers on a lot of teams and Goody, our defensive backs are like, "The kid's a good player.' I watched him, I'm like, 'God, he can run, he's tall, he can start, he can stop, he runs great routes.'"
The X-factor for Goodman, however, has been his consistency. He's shown that, despite limited opportunities throughout his career, he can show up every game and make an impact.
A lot of it is probably just senior, this is my last go-round. But just the emphasis that you can be a really effective player on our offense and play a ton and catch a lot of balls, but that's up to you. We'd love it to be you, but we'll find somebody else that's going to be consistent if you're not going to be consistent. So he's really done a nice job.
This is no time for Goodman to be intimidated by the expectations that will be placed upon him as a top receiver on the Irish. He looks at this as the culmination of four years of hard work, as an opportunity that he's been waiting for since his freshman season.
If this spring is any indication, Goodman is ready to seize that opportunity and make Floyd's departure hurt a little bit less.