In a crowded field of Baylor receivers, Antwan Goodley has patiently waited for his turn in the spotlight.
From all of his predecessors, Goodley learned what it takes to be a premier college receiver. All-Americans Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams and four-year starter Lanear Sampson were his role models, and Goodley always had his eyes and ears open.
“Kendall had a drive for the game and a love for it,” Goodley said. “It was exciting the way he played and the way he carried himself on the field. Lanear was a physical and fast guy. Terrance did whatever you asked him to do. He was a great listener, a great teammate and a great leader.”
Goodley grasped different elements from each of those former teammates while adding his own flair to the position. Now a fourth-year junior, Goodley is poised for a breakout season.
Goodley got off to a tremendous start by making five catches for 90 yards in Baylor’s season-opening 69-3 win over Wofford last weekend. Bryce Petty threw his first touchdown pass of the season when he hit Goodley in stride down the right sideline for 27 yards in the first quarter.
“I think we got a little taste of what Antwan can do,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “He’s a big, powerful guy who can stretch the field and also catch underneath stuff and get yards after the catch because he’s a physical player. He will get better and better and as the season goes along and we’ll involve him more in running the football.”
While Goodley is one of Baylor’s fastest players with his 4.3 speed in the 40, what sets him apart the most is his strength. At 5-10 and 225 pounds, he’s a receiver built like a power back, and that’s why Briles will occasionally design running plays for him.
When Goodley catches the ball, the show really starts. He can make smaller defensive backs scatter like bowling pins when he rumbles through the secondary.
“Antwan brings a completely new dynamic to that position because he’s fast,” Petty said. “You look for that in a receiver, but if you add the physicality standpoint, he’s fun to watch. You don’t expect that from a receiver. We can use him in the backfield and he’s a great weapon for us that we’ll really utilize as we get in the Big 12.”
Growing up in Midland, Goodley was a running back from peewee football through the eighth grade. As a ninth grader, Goodley switched to cornerback, but wanted to play offense. He got his first shot to play receiver as a 10th grader at Midland High School when he started the first two games on the junior varsity.
“During his second game for the JV, Antwan caught a little screen and ran 75 yards,” Midland coach Craig Yenzer said. “Then a few plays later he caught another pass and went 82 yards. I said, ‘Why is this guy on the JV?’ ”
Goodley moved up to the varsity for the rest of his sophomore year and set a school record with 1,747 receiving yards in three seasons. He topped it off with an outstanding senior year as he made 38 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns. Goodley also played safety when the team needed him and was an outstanding kick returner who scored three touchdowns as a senior.
“Against Lubbock Coronado, probably five or six guys had him hemmed up on a kickoff return,” Yenzer said. “But the amazing thing is he got out of it and returned it for about 88 yards for a touchdown. You’d see him returning an interception for a touchdown, returning a kick for a touchdown and catching a touchdown pass. He’s a powerful athlete.”
Goodley was a star guard for the basketball team and a fixture on the Midland relay teams. But he felt football was the sport that could advance his career down the road.
“Football is a huge deal in West Texas,” Goodley said. “It’s the main sport and everybody loves it. They moved me to receiver in 10th grade and that’s what I wanted to do. I like to play defense, but that’s not where my heart was. I wanted to make plays.”
Trip west pays off
Early in his high school career, Goodley became interested in Baylor after offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery visited Midland High School. After that talk, Goodley could envision himself as a college football player.
“Coach Montgomery came to our school and talked to a bunch of the guys,” Goodley said. “I thought about playing straight basketball, but he told me that if I kept my head on right and stuck with it he would keep up with me. Sure enough they did, and Baylor offered me my junior year. They had my back the whole time.”
Yenzer had known Briles for a long time since he was a former high school coach with deep West Texas roots before becoming a college coach. When Goodley signed with Baylor, Yenzer knew he would be in good hands.
“It’s surprising but Antwan didn’t have a lot of offers,” Yenzer said. “In the Metroplex or Houston, coaches can go see 10 or 15 kids in a day. But if you come out here, you drive all day and see two or three kids. So I hand it to Coach Briles and Coach Montgomery for coming out here. I don’t have any qualms about sending players to Art because he treats them so well.”
When Goodley arrived at Baylor, he joined a large group of talented receivers and had to wait his turn to get on the field. After redshirting in 2010, Goodley’s main contribution in 2011 was returning kicks as he averaged 23.7 yards on 19 returns. He enjoyed one of his best games in Baylor’s 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl as he returned three kicks for 90 yards.
Watching clock tick
“It was pretty tough coming here knowing that I wasn’t going to get to play that much,” Goodley said. “But it was a good experience redshirting because I learned from a lot of good receivers like Kendall Wright and Lanear Sampson. I tried to do whatever it took to help my team win. I wanted to produce for my teammates. (Returning kicks) at the start of the game gets the crowd going. It excites them.”
Last season, Goodley averaged 22.6 yards on 24 kick returns, but he also got more involved in the passing game as he made 17 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He scored his first touchdown at Baylor on a 7-yard pass from Nick Florence in the Big 12 opener against West Virginia.
But Goodley really began showing his versatility in the last two games. In Baylor’s 41-34 regular season-ending win over Oklahoma State, Goodley caught two passes for 23 yards and ran three times for 21 yards. In a 49-26 win over UCLA in the Holiday Bowl, he caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Florence and also ran the ball for 5 yards.
“Antwan was just getting his shot,” Briles said. “He’s always been a good player, but so was Terrance (Williams) and he waited for his turn. When your name is called you go, and that’s what Antwan did.”
Knowing he would play a major role in Baylor’s receiving corps this season, Goodley formed a strong connection with Petty during spring drills. That carried over into preseason camp as the two fine tuned a variety of routes from short passes near the line of scrimmage to midrange routes over the middle to deep bombs.
“Bryce is a great leader on and off the field, and he’s a good guy to be around,” Goodley said. “My coaches and teammates trust me 100 percent and have a lot of faith in me. They know I’ve got their backs.”
Goodley gets a lot of kidding from his fellow receivers about his running back build that he brings to the wide receiver position. But they know he gives the Bears a dynamic that a lot of teams don’t have with his speed and power.
“We tell him he could play tight end or defensive end,” Baylor senior receiver Tevin Reese said. “He’s different, he’s not an ordinary receiver. He’s a big, strong and explosive receiver.”