Former Mountaineer linebacker Najee Goode spent last weekend working out for his future employers at the NFL combine. Goode was a two-year starter in Morgantown and played a key role in a linebacking corps that helped the Mountaineers win close games down the stretch in 2011 and earn a berth in the Orange Bowl. Goode spoke to SB Nation Pittsburgh by phone to answer a few quick questions.
Football is the ultimate team game, but the combine isolates each player into individual workouts, what was that like?
It was a real eye-opener. They try and explain stuff to you about the league, to try to get you ready to come into the league. Because that’s the same also, you’re not in there with the same guys you went to college with, so pretty much you got to figure out what’s going to work for you as far as workouts and how you have to mentally get ready for a game or for practice. Because that’s pretty much what we did. We had a short practice, a short run-through, and then individual drills and stuff like that.
Without worrying too much about specific teams, what kind of situation are you looking for in the pros?
Situations as far as defenses and that sort of thing, as a player you want to go into anywhere and just try and learn everything. The best situation would for me to just get an opportunity and get in there and work hard at making the team.
Have the teams given you any feedback?
They like how I move. They want you to get the right amount of cuts and make sure that your game is fluid. Because, without that, route cutting, they just want to see that you get it right. Some of the feedback I got was to just keep working and keep up on my movement skills. A lot of guys liked how I did move. Because you got to be fluid in this game, as much hitting as it is, is as much running as it is. So, playing football, you’ve got to be good at both of them.
Did the teams or your agent give you any ideas where they think you might go?
Not yet, you know that process is long, and they don’t even know. Teams are still looking at possibilities of taking different players and so on. It’s still early in the process.
You and the rest of your fellow fifth-year seniors had three coaches in five years. What was that like?
It was a different experience, working with three different coaches. For me, I didn’t change position coaches because my defensive coach stayed, but for the offensive guys it was a little crazy, because they had to learn new systems, and just get used to everybody, because everybody’s different.
As a defensive captain and a defensive guy, I tried to make it easier on and off campus and talk to my friends and talk to my teammates, and no matter what happens, you pretty much stick together. It helped to the point where, when you go to NFL teams, you have to learn with different guys anyway. So for those guys on offense, when they get the opportunity, they’re familiar with just hurrying up and changing their offensive mentality.
What will you miss most about being a Mountaineer?
What I’ll miss most about it is probably the fans and the surroundings. First it’s being with my teammates and my boys, but then just the environment and stuff. Just being in college with them for four years, that family feeling within the whole school and the whole organization. An NFL team is just a team, but with college, you’ve got the school, the students and the fans. It’s a different environment.
Is there one moment that from your career at West Virginia that you’ll really look back on and cherish?
That game against Pitt [late in the 2011 season]. With us switching conferences and everything and the 2011 Mountaineers being the last Mountaineers that will play Pitt for awhile. Just the fact that I had the last sack that closed the game off, that was one of the best moments of my life. It was my senior game, it was at home in front of all my friends and family. That was a pretty special moment.
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