During his career at Smackover, Austin Goodwin was at the helm of the Bucks’ offense and had to account for where the defense could shift or change schemes while surveying the line of scrimmage.
Now that role has been reversed.
Earlier this month, Goodwin signed with Southern Arkansas to play at defensive back for the Muleriders.
An All-Conference selection in 2020, Goodwin is also well-versed in defense having spent the last three years at free safety for the Bucks.
How Goodwin wound up being a part of first-year coach Mike McCarty’s inaugural class can be attributed to Smackover boys basketball coach Caleb Spradlin.
“My basketball coach used to go to SAU and his friend is one of the coaches at SAU,” Goodwin said. “He asked them if they were looking at anybody at Smackover and he said no, so he told them about me. It’s kind of last minute. We were texting maybe a week before signing day. I went to tour them that Thursday and he gave me an offer. It just went from there.”
Getting to play close to home was a factor in Goodwin signing with the Muleriders as well.
“That was a big factor with me signing because I will be a lot closer to home,” Goodwin said. “That way, I can stay close to family. I won’t be hours away like some athletes have to do.”
Goodwin believes playing at quarterback for Smackover will be a big benefit as he transitions to defense full time.
“It helped me understand the game a lot more, especially knowing the offensive side of the field too,” Goodwin said. “You know how the route combinations go. You know where their weak spots are and what coverage, so I know where to go. It just makes it easier for me.”
Two weeks ago, Tampa Bay’s Tanner Hudson became the third player in Southern Arkansas’ history to play in the Super Bowl, and Goodwin said his goal is to get the opportunity to play on Sundays.
“I’ve learned from being at different football camps that it doesn’t really matter where you play because there’s so much football all over the country,” Goodwin said. “It just depends on your game and work ethic. I feel like I can still make it to the next level like some of their players have in recent years. I feel I will be one of those next players because I know how hard I can work and I know how my game is. I know that it will appeal to at least one scout in the NFL.”
When asked what he would like to work on between now and when he starts at SAU in the fall, Goodwin said he is going to spend plenty of time in the weight room.
“I’m going to hit the weight room pretty hard because I know I’m kind of small for my size,” Goodwin said. “I’m going to work on my feet because they need a little work.”
As his career at Smackover winds down, Goodwin said he wants to savor the time he has left.
“I just want to enjoy the moment,” Goodwin said. “Going through all of this corona stuff has been crazy this year, so I just want to finish strong with grades and just to have fun throughout all of this.”
Goodwin also offered a message to his fellow student-athletes.
“I would like to tell all of the athletes in this area that it doesn’t really matter where you play,” Goodwin said.
“As long as you have a good work ethic, someone is going to notice you, so don’t look down on D-II or D-III or junior colleges because someone will notice you and you can make it out of nowhere.”