Gilman offensive lineman picks Wake Forest
From the beginning, Hunter Goodwin had a good feeling about the Wake Forest football program.
The 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive tackle from Gilman consulted coaches, players and his family, including older brother Dave, an offensive lineman at St. Francis (Pa.).
“I sat down with my family and talked about it,” Goodwin said. “They said, ‘Hunter, if you had the dream offer, could that beat out Wake Forest?’ And I really couldn’t find anyone else that would have the total package deal, especially with the coaching staff, the academics and the small-school [environment]. I really do like the personal, family [feeling]. It’s a tight-knit community. That’s one thing that really stayed with me and I was really comfortable with it. That was a big thing, and nobody was going to top that school for me.”
After celebrating Easter at his aunt's house, Goodwin returned home and called Demon Deacons offensive line coach Steed Lobotzke to offer his commitment.
"When I called Coach Lobo, he kind of got real quiet for a second," Goodwin said. "Then he said, 'Hunter, I can't lie to you right now. I'm smiling from ear to ear. We talked about how we both were really happy about the decision and it just felt right."
Goodwin picked the Demon Deacons over Maryland and West Virginia, while Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Rutgers were also in the mix.
While the entire Goodwin family approved of Hunter's decision, he also sought advice from a couple of former Greyhounds. Navy secondary coach Napoleon Sykes is a Gilman graduate who played at Wake Forest and served as a graduate assistant. Goodwin spoke with him and Demon Deacons linebacker Joey Ehrmann, who was a senior at Gilman when Goodwin was a freshman.
"I felt really comfortable getting his perception from inside," Goodwin said. "Anywhere you go, coaches are going to put on a little bit of a show, so it's hard to be 100 percent real. But I think the Wake Forest coaches did a really good job [of being genuine]. I feel like I know the real coach [Jim] Grobe. I talked to Joey about him and what his opinion was on Coach Lobo and see what he thought about the academic advisers and the practice schedules and all that. [Ehrmann told me] how manageable [everything was] after being prepared at Gilman."
Goodwin expects to redshirt his freshman year at Wake Forest and compete for playing time as a second-year player. Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell thinks Goodwin's leadership and toughness will suit him well in Winston-Salem.
"Hunter's an extremely large kid at 6-6, 280. He just had a really strong year for us," Russell said. "He certainly opened holes for us in the running game. That will be his strength, definitely run blocking. He opened a lot of holes for Darius [Jennings] and Dexter Davis last year. The coaches were impressed with the physical nature he brings. He's also a very coachable kid who's very easy to get along with, and I think the coaches like that about him. They're excited to see how much he grows next year, especially with the schedule we're playing next year."
That schedule includes nonconference matchups with Good Counsel, DeMatha and Don Bosco Prep (N.J.), in addition to a typically challenging MIAA A Conference slate. Thankfully for Goodwin, he can now focus entirely on senior year, knowing that his college future is secured.
"Wake Forest was really like the package deal," Goodwin said. "It had everything I was looking for -- great coaching, great academics, great location and great people all around. It has everything I was always looking for. I really enjoyed my time at Maryland and West Virginia. I really like that Maryland was close to home and I really like the coaches at West Virginia. But I really like the small-campus feel of Wake Forest more than the huge-campus atmosphere. Everything aligned and really helped me make the decision."