Malliciah Goodman certainly wasn’t the best-known draft pick available when the Atlanta Falcons chose him in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he’ll be well-known to Falcons fans everywhere soon enough.
Bold words? Only maybe.
Goodman didn’t start playing football until he was in the eighth grade, but by the time he reached West Florence High School he was more than ready to show what he could do. His efforts garnered him a ranking as the number 10 defensive end in the nation by ESPN and first-team All-American by EA Sports. Goodman’s senior year saw him record 73 tackles, 15 sacks, and a finalist spot for the South Carolina Mr. Football Award; he also was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American game and the Shrine Bowl. Off the field, his grades earned him a spot on the Principal’s Honor Roll; he also was part of a group of players who visited local elementary schools once a week to read to first and second graders.
With offers from Kentucky, Maryland, South Carolina and Tennessee on the table, Goodman’s decision to accept a full athletic scholarship from Clemson was not one he took lightly. He didn’t start a game as a freshman in 2009, but he did play. An average of 24 snaps per game was more than impressive, and the coaching staff chose him Co-Rookie of the Year for Clemson defensive players. He finished that season with 31 tackles and two sacks.
Goodman’s success continued in 2010. He won Most Improved and Strength Training awards for his hard work during spring practice. He was named Special Teams Player of the Game for his endeavors against Presbyterian College. For the season as a whole, three caused fumbles, 32 tackles and one sack earned him the Future Impact Player defense award.
2011 was Goodman’s best year by far, though the expected conference accolades didn’t materialize. He set the school record for defensive linemen with a remarkable 767 snaps in 14 games and 14 starts. He had four tackles and two quarterback pressures in the game against then-number-10 ranked Virginia Tech; nine tackles in the Georgia Tech game earned him a team Co-Defensive Player of the Game award.
The numbers slipped somewhat for Goodman’s senior year in 2012, but his performance did garner an honorable mention All-ACC selection and an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Also, he was ranked eighth in the nation in caused fumbles. Goodman was named team Defensive Player of the Game in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU with four tackles and three sacks. Over 13 games with 622 snaps that season, he recorded 28 tackles, eight quarterback pressures, seven sacks, four caused fumbles, two pass breakups, and one recorded fumble.
Though his on-field performance speaks for itself, consistency off the field wasn’t Goodman’s strong suit through his college days. However, there is no doubt that the potential for greatness is there—it just needs to be nurtured and directed.
Is the investment worth the risk?
Only time will tell for sure.