PITTSBURGH -- C.J. Goodwin might not even rise to the level of sleeper given his relative lack of football background and how difficult it could be for wide receivers with NFL experience to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster.
But Goodwin will arrive at training camp with something that no other long shot has: an endorsement from former Steelers great Mel Blount.
A phone call from Blount to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert led to a tryout for Goodwin, and he parlayed that into a spot on Pittsburgh's offseason roster. Assuming he is not one of the odd men out if the Steelers make roster moves over the next month, Goodwin will report to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on July 25 with size, speed and a dream.
“He’s got a goal,” said Blount, the Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback, “and like I told him. ‘The door’s open and you’ve got to take advantage of it because nobody’s going to give you anything.’ He’s willing to work for it so we’ll see what happens.”
Blount knew Goodwin long before the latter started dreaming about a career in football. Goodwin is from Wheeling, West Virginia, which is about 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, and he attended The Linsly School in Wheeling with one of Blount’s sons. Goodwin starred in basketball and caught Blount’s attention with his hoops skills.
“I mean this kid could jump out of the gym,” said Blount, whose son was a couple of years behind Goodwin at Linsly and also played basketball. “He has like a 46-inch vertical [leap], and he can run.”
Indeed ,Goodwin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at a regional NFL scouting combine, and at 6-3, 190 pounds his measurables make him an intriguing developmental prospect.
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile of Goodwin details the circuitous route he took to football, and it all started with the coach at Fairmont State in West Virginia discovering him during an intramural basketball game.
Goodwin, who caught 11 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown last season at nearby California University, hasn’t just impressed Blount with his athleticism through the years.
Goodwin worked in the home Blount runs for disadvantaged children in the Pittsburgh area, and Blount said Goodwin's character might be his most impressive attribute.
“He’s just a good kid,” Blount said, “Everything is 'yes sir, yes ma'am,' so he’s really well grounded. I think if given an opportunity he will take advantage of it.”