Iowa running back Tyler Goodson eyes Doak Walker Award entering junior season

Goodson was a first-team All-Big Ten performer as a sophomore, but has bigger goals in mind for next season.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson carries the ball during a spring practice for Iowa football at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Tyler Goodson stood in pads and a helmet on the turf field at Kinnick Stadium Saturday morning watching award-winning Hawkeyes be praised in front of the socially distanced Iowa fans in the stands.

Before the Iowa football team’s final practice of the spring, Goodson saw Iowa men’s basketball player Luka Garza accept the Naismith Award and address the crowd. After the open practice ended, Goodson witnessed Dawn Staley award-winner Caitlin Clark be recognized on the end zone video boards for her record-breaking freshman season with the Hawkeye women’s basketball team.

Heading into next season, Goodson has his mind set on an award of his own.

“Let’s just say I want to be the Doak Walker Award winner,” Goodson said after practice Saturday. “That’s what I want. I feel like the O-line in front of me will help me get there.”

The Doak Walker Award is presented annually to the best running back in the nation.

Shonn Greene is the only Hawkeye to ever win the award, doing so in 2008 after rushing for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Goodson (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) has a lot of faith in an offensive line replacing both of its starting offensive tackles and one starting guard from a year ago. He should. To win the Doak Walker Award, Goodson will need his line to pave the way for him just as it did last season.

Last season as a sophomore, Goodson was a first-team All-Big Ten performer, rushing for 762 yards (5.3 per carry) and seven touchdowns in eight games. To make the next step to becoming one of the best players at his position not only in the conference, but the country, Goodson is focused on improving on the “little things.”

Clearly, Goodson has been listening to his new running backs coach.

Ladell Betts, the Iowa football program’s second leading rusher of all-time, was hired in March to coach Goodson and the team’s other running backs. At his introductory press conference Wednesday, Betts was asked how Goodson, along with Iowa’s other running backs, can elevate their games.

“I think one of the misconceptions about running backs is a lot of people think we just run the ball,” Betts said last week. “But there are nuances to the position. Being in the NFL, you learn a lot of those nuances. Whether it be how to run routes, how to catch the ball, how to block — all those little things that separate your average tailback and take their game to the next level.

“There are running backs all over the country who know how to run. But can you do the other things?”

RELATED: Returning to Hawkeye football program as coach ‘nostalgic’ for former Iowa running back Ladell Betts

Goodson said repeatedly Saturday his emphasis this offseason is becoming a better blocker in pass protection. He wants to be someone his “quarterback can feel comfortable with and offensive line can trust.”

Another focus for Goodson has been becoming a more dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield. Goodson caught 15 passes for 152 yards last season. Watching film is the main thing Goodson said he’s been doing to improve in these areas when he’s not on the field. Well, that and listening to his running backs coach with nine years of NFL experience.

“I actually didn’t know he played in the NFL,” Goodson said. “I didn’t know he played here until he came here. And that did it for me. I knew he was the real deal. I just listened to everything he’s done and his experiences and tried to implement that into my game.”

Goodson participated in all 15 of Iowa’s practices this spring. And the Hawkeyes needed him to.

Other than Goodson, Iowa only has three running backs on scholarship: Ivory Kelly-Martin, Gavin Williams, and LeShon Williams. Plus, Kelly-Martin is out this spring while rehabbing a surgically repaired ACL.

And by being on the field, Goodson continues to try and elevate his game to compete with the other top running backs in the country.

“He’s practiced every day with a great attitude,” Ferentz said. “He works hard. The guys that we think are really quality players, have proven themselves as quality players, they’ve had a great attitude all the way through spring.

“That sounds mundane, it sounds routine, but you don’t always see that, especially with older guys. They think it’s spring break instead of spring practice. They’ve gone out and shown the other guys this is the tempo they’re supposed to work at.”

Facebook Comments