Terrance Williams is about a hundred miles up the road now, living well as a Dallas Cowboy. Last season, he and Nick Florence proved Kendall Wright and Robert Griffin III’s exit to the NFL wouldn’t be the end of Baylor’s high-powered offense.
When the question about who would replace him as Baylor’s top pass-catcher came up, you’d hear Tevin Reese’s name first. The undersized speedster proved himself as a deep threat with 957 yards and nine touchdowns as option No. 2 behind Williams, a Biletnikoff Award finalist who led the nation in receiving yards in 2012. Levi Norwood, who caught 40 balls for 487 yards as a sophomore, wouldn’t be far behind in the conversation. Few freshmen at Baylor have ever earned the amount of hype Robbie Rhodes did, signing with the Bears as one of the most highly sought recruits in school history. Could he have that kind of immediate impact?
Nobody seemed to bring up the guy with more kick returns (23) than receptions (17) last year. You didn’t hear much about the guy who played three sports and finished a career at Midland High in west Texas with three recruiting stars.
Sounds like we should have.
“He has done everything over and above what we could imagine him doing,” Bears quarterback Bryce Petty said. “We watch him in practice. The guy’s a freak, honestly.”
Every offseason, prognosticators tab “breakout players.” Nobody in the Big 12 is providing viewers a front-row seat to a breakout season like Baylor receiver Antwan Goodley.
Throught three games, he’s leading the Bears in receiving yards and touchdowns with 370 yards and four scores. Both numbers are twice what he reached a year ago, and he’s done it on three fewer catches.
His 26.4 yards per catch is higher than all but one player in college football (Sammie Coates, Auburn). Of his 14 catches, 12 have been for longer than 10 yards and three have gone for more than 60 yards. No other player in the Big 12 has more than one catch longer than 60 yards.
“I guess you could say it’s been pretty good, but I’m not satisfied,” Goodley said. “I just feel like my coaches are giving me a chance, giving me more shots to show my skills and what I can do, so that’s helped me be successful.”
Goodley, at 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, possesses a running back’s frame but spends little time inside the tackles. He could if he needed to, though. He even earned some playing time at running back last season.
“He has a lot of qualities most receivers don’t have. He’s fast, he can run but he’s also one of the most physical kids I’ve ever seen,” Petty said. “It’s something you don’t see much at that position, because he can fly as well. And he’s going to bring it to ‘em every chance he can get. He wears a DB down.”
Asked to describe himself, Goodley kept it short. He’s a talented linguist, but tends to shorten answers when he’s the subject of a question.
“Fast and physical,” he said.
And once Briles had his turn?
“Very explosive, very dynamic and very powerful,” coach Art Briles said. “He’s a good football player, just been waiting to get on the field.”
Goodley had to wait his turn with Williams routinely collecting double-digit targets a year ago. Somebody had to fill the void of Williams’ 1,832 receiving yards. Reese has just 20 fewer yards than Goodley through three games, but the duo had been targets 1 and 1A for Petty entering Saturday’s Big 12 opener at home against West Virginia.
“His role started increasing toward the end of last year, and has just kind of ascended where we’re at in our short term this year,” Briles said. “We’ve only played three games, so we’re still in the infant stages of the team, but so far, he’s been really good.”
Running back Lache Seastrunk’s big finish with 831 yards in the final six games of 2012 earned him Heisman hype. Petty’s experience in the program and NFL build inspired more than a few (yours truly, included) to tab him as the likely pick for the Big 12’s best quarterback by the end of 2013. Offensive lineman Cyril Richardson earned preseason All-American honors.
Together, the Bears have the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense and have averaged 137 yards more per game than any team in college football.
Goodley has been as responsible for that success as any Bear on the roster.
“Our goal the whole time is to be the best in the Big 12. When you’re the best in the Big 12 in an offensive category, you’re probably the best in the nation, so that’s what we want to do, is to take it one game at a time to win the Big 12 Championship,” Petty said. “We’re on the right track. We’ve got to keep it going, keep our focus and determination and that’s what can happen.”