Three and half years ago, a talented running back from Georgia became one of the most exciting members of Iowa's 2019 recruiting class. Tyler Goodson arrived at Iowa with plenty of promise -- and proceeded to live up to that potential almost immediately. Now, three and a half years later, Goodson's Iowa career is at an end; he announced on Friday that he would be opting out of Iowa's final game of the season in the Citrus Bowl (as well as his senior season in 2022) and entering the 2022 NFL Draft pool.
Thank you Hawkeye Nation!! pic.twitter.com/R39eZz8Uzb— Tyler Goodson(Tgood) (@tgood1110) December 10, 2021
Goodson arrived at Iowa in 2019 with an Iowa offense that returned its three leading rushers from 2018: Mekhi Sargent (745 yards), Toren Young (637), and Ivory Kelly-Martin (341). He was used sparingly through the first part of Iowa's season -- Goodson recorded double-digit carries in just three of his first nine games -- but he'd still managed to make an impact. As it became clear that even as a true freshman, Goodson was likely the best running back Iowa had, he took over as the starter in Iowa's game against Minnesota, running for 296 yards in Iowa's final four games and recording a touchdown run in each game. He ended up leading Iowa in rushing in 2019, with 638 yards on 134 carries (4.76 ypc).
As 2020 dawned, Goodson was the clear lead back in Iowa's offense. Despite playing a weird, COVID-impacted schedule that featured no non-conference opponents to fatten stats against (nor the final two scheduled games of the season, against Michigan and Missouri, due to COVID-related cancellations), Goodson led Iowa in rushing and topped his 2019 figures. 143 carries, 762 yards, 5.3 ypc, 7 TD. After such a strong showing in a shortened season, Goodson even managed to earn first team All-Big Ten honors at running back.
In 2021, Goodson finally got to be the lead back and run against a full schedule. The results? 256 carries, 1151 yards, 4.5 ypc, 6 TD. That's the most carries and rushing yards for an Iowa running back in a decade, since Marcus Coker in 2011 (280 carries, 1384 yards). That Goodson was able to achieve those figures this year, behind this offensive line, and with this offensive play-calling... well, it's nothing short of miraculous. In that context, Goodson's 2021 season is truly one of the most impressive performances from an Iowa player in the last 20 years. Given a better offensive line and play-calling that, uh, worked, Goodson could have easily eclipsed 1500 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
And now the Tyler Goodson era at Iowa is at an end. It's a bittersweet ending; it stinks to have to say goodbye to one of the best running backs Iowa has had during the Ferentz Era. It especially stinks that our final memories of him in an Iowa uniform will be of him grinding for yards -- 50 yards on 18 carries -- for an overmatched Iowa team in a dispiriting Big Ten Championship Game defeat.
But I'm thankful for the last three years and for the tireless production and skilled running that Tyler Goodson gave Iowa game after game and season after season from 2019 through 2021. Those are the memories that will endure of his Iowa career -- the visions of him lancing through the Nebraska defense the last few years, or racing down the sideline in the opener against Indiana this year, or galloping through the secondary on a catch-and-run against Maryland this season.
I don't fault him for leaving Iowa early, regardless of what his future may be in the NFL Draft. The careers of running backs are punishingly short; if you have a chance to earn NFL money playing that position, grab it with both hands and don't look back. It's not as if he would get bigger or faster or stronger or do anything else to improve his draft stock by returning to Iowa for another season; he would, however, likely endure another 250+ worth of carries and wear-and-tear on his body. Nor do I fault him for leaving Iowa now and opting out of the Citrus Bowl. If he doesn't want to risk injury in that game, so be it. There's nothing on the line in that game but a bit of pride and a trophy with a bowl of fruit on top.
Thanks for the memories and for three fun years, Tyler. We wish you the very best in the future -- which hopefully includes hearing your name called in next spring's NFL Draft and suiting up on Sundays. Good luck and godspeed.