The Hawkeyes will be looking to repeat the success they had at the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl when they face Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl. Hawk Central
During his late-April official visit to Iowa, Tyler Goodson sat in the film room with Derrick Foster. The Hawkeyes’ running back coach turned on some tape of Akrum Wadley from his days in black and gold.
Goodson could barely believe what he saw.
"It was identical (to me). It was the exact same play. It was crazy," Goodson told the Register, remembering that his mom filmed the whole thing and sent it to his dad. "It was the exact same play, exact same run, and both of us scored or got long gains off of it."
Foster’s goal? To show Goodson he could be the next Wadley at Iowa — to show Kirk Ferentz knows what he's doing with a running back in Goodson's mold.
Goodson was floored. And he was sold.
"I knew (I was picking Iowa) my first day there,” said the three-star running back out of Suwanee, Georgia, who added that he’s "2,000 percent ready" to sign his National Letter of Intent with Iowa next Wednesday.
"(Seeing Wadley’s success) opened up my eyes to really show me that was the best fit — the perfect fit — for me and my skill set, even though there were other great schools out there. Iowa has two tight-end sets and that fullback. Being behind that fullback, I feel like that’s extra protection. Then I’ll have the big-time, No. 1 O-line throughout the country in recent years. And with my class coming in, it was like, 'Oh man, this is heaven.'"
Iowa coaches aren’t the only ones who see the likeness to Wadley. That comparison was popular for recruiting analysts and talent evaluators who talked about Goodson, especially once Iowa starting heavily recruiting him this past winter and spring.
Both backs are as shifty as they come, with excellent field vision, breakaway speed and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Both are built similarly, too, although Goodson is bigger than Wadley was as a high school senior.
Entering college, Goodson checks in at 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds. Entering the NFL Draft, Wadley was 5-10 and 194 — he weighed 175 as a high school senior.
"Very similar body types. Similar running styles, as well," 247Sports Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said. "They’re slashers. Guys who can break some longer runs, have some speed to them. Complete, all-around type backs."
Goodson picked the Hawkeyes over West Virginia and Wake Forest, among 34 other offers. He’s a product of North Gwinnett High, a top-10 program in the talent-rich state of Georgia. The Bulldogs play in the northern Atlanta metro, where some of the country’s best recruits are produced year in and year out.
Translation: Thanks to his level of competition, Goodson is one of the more college-ready running backs out there.
That’s a good thing for the Hawkeyes, who need some help in the running back room.
Ivory Kelly-Martin, Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent never really coalesced to form a consistently potent ground attack this season. And there's only one more scholarship running back on the roster in Henry Geil.
Goodson said part of Iowa's recruiting pitch was that he'd have a chance to compete for immediate playing time.
"The message is that the depth is not where they would want it," Goodson said. "And coming in as a true freshman, as long as I pick up everything fast and the pass protection, I’ve got very fair ground to play early. That’s the message. We're talking ball as soon as I sign. They want me coming there, being ready to pick it up and playing as a true freshman."
Steven Jackson, Goodson’s offensive coordinator at North Gwinnett, has spent a decade coaching in different schools throughout Georgia.
He said he's never seen a high school running back like Goodson.
"He anticipates better than any back I’ve ever had, as far as what’s going to develop and where the hole is going to be," Jackson said. "His patience to (see) that development — and then burst through that development — kind of separates him from anybody else who’s maybe the same height, weight and speed."
Goodson was a well-regarded recruit at the time he committed to Iowa, but he surged in the recruiting rankings during a strong senior season that saw him gain 7.1 yards per carry with 25 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
In its latest rankings, 247Sports bumped Goodson up to No. 533 overall in the 2019 classs and No. 30 among running backs.
Those numbers for Wadley? No. 2,295 overall in 2013 and No. 148 among running backs. Of course, the New Jersey product went on to gain 186 yards as a redshirt freshman and 2,872 in his storied Hawkeye career.
Jackson said that, more so than his competition level or physical strength, Goodson is college-ready because of his understanding and knowledge of the game.
"The big thing that everybody always talks about when you’ve got a guy going to college or you’ve got a college guy going to the NFL is: 'Can he pick up protections?'" Jackson said. "'Does he understand the whole scheme? Or is he just a first-down back?' Those things. The understanding piece of it is not going to be his problem. I promise you that.
"Without any real knowledge of what’s on the roster up there, he’s going to be competitive there because of what I know about the kid, what I know about this game, the other types of players I’ve been around that have gone on to college.
"He's ready to go."
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.