Swinney says there was a time when Goodrich 'would have probably been in the portal'

Swinney says there was a time when Goodrich 'would have probably been in the portal'

Football

Swinney says there was a time when Goodrich 'would have probably been in the portal'

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Sitting at the podium during Clemson’s postgame press conference following the 19th-ranked Tigers’ 20-13 win over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando on Wednesday night, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made it clear how he feels about the Cheez-It Bowl MVP — Mario Goodrich.

The senior cornerback had an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:01 left in third quarter, which gave Clemson a 17-point lead at the time.

Later, after Iowa State scored 10 straight points to cut its deficit to 7, Goodrich sealed Clemson’s victory with 33 seconds remaining when he forced a fumble by Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy on a fourth-and-2 run.

“Really proud of Mario,” Swinney said. “I was talking to the team about Mario a week or so ago, about this young man. Because he didn’t get off to a good start. Like a lot of 18-year-olds, a little immature, not quite as focused, a little distracted. In my office a couple times when he didn’t need to be in my office. Got my foot in his rear a few times. But you don’t know what you don’t know. And now, here is is.”

A first-team All-ACC selection in 2021, Goodrich entered the Cheez-It Bowl with 47 total tackles, seven pass breakups, one quarterback pressure and an interception in 11 games (11 starts) this season.

The Kansas City, Mo., native accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl and will have the chance to play in front of NFL scouts on Feb. 5, 2022.

Swinney believes there was a point earlier in Goodrich’s career when he likely would have put his name in the NCAA transfer portal and continued his career elsewhere.

But obviously, he didn’t, and his sticking around at Clemson paid off.

“First-team all-conference. Had his best semester academically in his entire career, like a 3.46 GPA in the fall. Was voted team captain by his team. Going to the Senior Bowl,” Swinney said, listing Goodrich’s accomplishments.

“I mean, that’s what is great about coaching is seeing transformation and seeing young men buy in. He would have probably been in the portal if the portal had been around back in his sophomore year. But to be up here in this moment with this guy right now… he knows. Man, this is a winner.”

Swinney says Goodrich is “equipped” to play at the NFL level and deserves the opportunity.

“Whoever gets Mario, man — this dude right here, he’s a grown man, and he gets it and he’s equipped because of what he’s been through and because he hung in there,” Swinney said. “Man, I’m just so proud. Nobody deserves it more than this guy. He’s been amazing.”

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