Tyler Goodson prepared to take on role as Iowa’s featured running back

Now a sophomore, things have slowed down for Goodson on the football field and, with the help of his teammates, he’s ready to be Iowa’s star in the backfield.


Katina Zentz

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson carries the ball during the football game against Illinois on Saturday, November 23, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 19-10.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Tyler Goodson isn’t a freshman anymore — not that he hasn’t heard that already.

The Suwanee, Georgia, native impressed in his first season as a Hawkeye in 2019. Now the team’s featured running back at the top of the depth chart, Goodson’s coaches are expecting even more from him.

“What I told him is ‘Last year is over,’” running backs coach Derrick Foster said. “‘You’re not a freshman anymore, you’re a sophomore. An older player. You’ve got some game experience under your belt now.’

“I’m looking forward to him leading out front and understanding, exactly, this offense. Sometimes coming in as a freshman it can be a little bit overwhelming to a certain extent. I think what has happened for him is he’s been able to slow the game down, understand what we do conceptually as an offense, and then go out there and apply it to his ability.”

Goodson received a varying amount of touches for most of last season before taking over the starting job in Iowa’s victory over previously undefeated Minnesota.

In the Hawkeyes’ regular season finale against Nebraska, Goodson scampered for a career-high 116 yards, including a 55-yard burst down the sideline for a score.

“Last year, my mindset at the beginning of the season was mostly just to get comfortable and earn the coaches’ trust so they’d be able to trust me down the road and trust me to have the ball in my hands,” Goodson said. “Once the game slowed down, with the help of the coaches, I had some success.”

Goodson’s rise up Iowa’s depth chart meant others had to fall.

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Mekhi Sargent lost his starting job last season, but he was critical in the development of the running back who took his spot.

“Mekhi has been a great mentor for me personally,” Goodson said. “I came in and he’s helped me with the playbook, helped me with defensive schemes, allowed things to slow down for me.”

“Tyler coming in and being very competitive, that was huge,” Sargent said. “We had guys like Toren Young there and Ivory Kelly-Martin, but Tyler brought a whole different type of skillset to the room. We’re still giving each other tools to get better. Still learning the game of football. Tyler’s a really good kid and he has a bright future.”

Kelly-Martin was another running back who didn’t see the amount of touches he may have been expecting last season. He only appeared in three games before spending the rest of the season on the sideline, taking a redshirt year.

Foster described Kelly-Martin as an extra assistant coach in the backfield last season and commended the redshirt junior for his attitude despite not being on the field.

“I’m very lucky to not have a group of guys in our room that have selfish attitudes,” Foster said. “They are team-first guys and very supportive of one another. You see it in practice, you see it in a game. And that makes me proud as a coach.”

Sargent and Kelly-Martin will both have roles – on and off the field – for Iowa this season, but Goodson is set to be the star at running back.

Goodson is on the Doak Walker preseason watch list and is a popular All-Big Ten pick. The sophomore is confident in himself going into the 2020 season. But he may be more confident in his team.

“I can see us going to win a Big Ten Championship,” Goodson said. “And if it happens to go further, we can go further. That’s what I see in this team.”