Kerry Goode’s reputation loomed large, but still, when August 1983 arrived, he had to ask for the ball.
First-year Alabama head coach Ray Perkins had penciled in the highly recruited Goode as a defensive back, using him to strengthen a very thin secondary, but the fleet-footed freshman from Town Creek wasn’t so fired up about playing defense.
“After practice one day, I sat down with [Coach Perkins] and said, ’I’d like the opportunity to play running back,’’’ Goode recalled. ’“If you don’t like [how I perform] you’ll never hear another word from me and I’ll go back to defensive back.’“
A day or two later, during the first scrimmage of the pre-season, on his second carry, Goode took a handoff and raced for a 40-plus-yard gain. On the way back to the huddle, he ran by his new coach. “Told you I could do it,“ he said with a big grin before jogging back to the huddle.
Needing no more convincing, Perkins moved Goode up the depth chart. He quickly became a freshman sensation, setting an Alabama rookie rushing record (693 yards) before going down with a devastating injury in the 1984 opener against Boston College.
Nearly 30 years later, Goode, like few others, understands the expectations now swirling around Alabama freshman T.J. Yeldon, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and caught a pass for 26 yards in the Crimson Tide’s 41-14 season opening romp over Michigan.
“Michigan was a big-game atmosphere, and lot of times, you will see a freshman be intimidated by an atmosphere like that,“ Goode said. “But it didn’t seem to faze him. To have a breakout game in that sort of atmosphere, on the big stage, is pretty unusual. He handled it well, and I was surprised and impressed.“
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