Najee Goode getting comfortable with new role as middle linebacker, leader
Published: Thursday, August 25, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2011 23:08
Najee Goode has played outside linebacker each of his first three seasons at West Virginia.
In his senior season, he will play many, if not all the games, at middle linebacker to make way for younger linebackers on the team to earn game experience.
Goode is happy to shift to the inside in order to help his teammates with plays and assignments, and he'll have more control over the defense as a whole.
"I like being off the edge, but playing in the middle I feel comfortable, too, because I get to step back and kind of direct guys and do my own thing," the redshirt senior said after a team scrimmage. "Right now, I would like to say I like playing middle better, because I know more, and it's fun."
The Ohio native has been giving advice to the less experienced linebackers and directing them when they aren't sure where to go on the field.
"You get more self control of the defense, get to tell people where to line up and with the younger guys, it's actually learning," Goode said. "I don't even have to tell the guys like Doug (Rigg) and Tyler (Anderson). The other guys are coming along, like Josh (Francis).
"But it is more fun to play there, because you get to anchor the defense, and you have to step up and play that role, and that's what I'm trying to do."
Goode is confident nothing changes or gets too confusing when he moves to the inside.
He knows all the schemes and can let the other players know and keep them on their feet.
"Knowing the defense, all you have to do is tell a guy where to go if they're not too sure, and if they know, then it's the same thing, just a different assignment here and there," he said.
"Pretty much I do the same thing (on the outside). Guys like Doug and all the other guys that want to step up there and see some other things, I let them do it to see what they need to do in order to get it. We still run the same defense."
The redshirt senior said all of the shifts and movements by different players along the defense are beneficial for the unit.
The other linebackers with less game-playing experience will learn to pick up their assignments and the linebackers will mesh together and be on the same page.
"It'll help out and provide us with a little bit of depth. I am helping the young guys to show them to do some different things, to help the guys that are playing one position to move around to play another position," he said.
"So they get another chance, like Doug (Rigg) has been playing and Tyler Anderson has been rotating around. It will help them to get more versatility and to learn what's going on, because you can't be one-sided on our defense."
Goode's leadership has taken a step up, and he is confident he can get the other linebackers at the same level.
That leadership will be vital for Goode, especially with former linebackers J.T. Thomas and Anthony Leonard both gone.
"It's something that just from playing other positions, I've always been paying attention to it and moving in different spots, but you really start trying to rep it and trying to get the guys to step up."