Instead of competing for a starting spot on the outside at cornerback in spring practice, veteran Mario Goodrich is working more inside as Clemson’s primary nickel back.
The rising senior has seen some action at nickel in the past and has a feel for playing there. But with Malcolm Greene sidelined for the remainder of the spring following shoulder surgery, Goodrich is being asked to take on a larger role at the position.
“I was playing nickel a little bit last year,” Goodrich said. “They were mixing me in here and there and just taking reps with Malcolm and Mike (Jones). It’s almost the same as corner. There’s correlations. I’m getting it down, though, and hopefully I can learn everything by this summer.”
A lengthy defensive back, Goodrich enters the 2021 season credited with 36 tackles, six pass breakups, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 35 games over his first three years at Clemson. The Kansas City native recorded 16 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup in eight games, including four starts, as a junior last season.
This spring, Goodrich is taking pride in his versatility while focusing on improving certain parts of his game going into summer workouts.
“I think I need to work on my off technique, being more physical, and just showing up in the run game,” he said. “And just being versatile, showing that I can play all over the field at different positions, and just helping my team, really.”
Now the oldest guy in Clemson’s cornerback room as the lone scholarship senior, Goodrich is embracing a leadership role and taking it upon himself to be an example for and help teach younger corners such as freshman Nate Wiggins and rising sophomore Fred Davis.
“Just helping out the young guys, really,” Goodrich said. “Helping out Nate, making sure he gets the signals down, making sure he knows what he’s doing. Really that’s it, and picking up Fred, helping him. (Andrew) Booth and Sheridan (Jones), they know what they’re doing most of the time, so it’s really just helping the younger guys, being more vocal and just showing them how to do it like the guys before me.”
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