The word most often used to describe the pace of a football game is chaos. Helmets clashing, snap counts being chanted, and the shouts from on and off the field of player assignments and changes can create an atmosphere of unrelenting noise and confusion. It is for this reason that a team’s quiet leaders can emerge as its most important. Senior defensive tackle Bill Goodrich is one such leader for Cornell this season.
“He’s not a real vocal or emotional guy. He’s a guy that shows up, plays hard, and gets the job done,” said defensive coordinator Jim Pletcher.
Goodrich’s workman’s mentality has been an important example for the players who look to him for the wisdom of his experience. Cornell’s defense is a young unit, by all measures, which will make the core senior leadership an even more important factor in the team’s success. Goodrich will play a major, though silent, role in that process.
“His consistency at the position is a huge factor in the development of our defensive system,” said head coach Tim Pendergast, “he leads without really having to say anything.”
That doesn’t mean Goodrich necessarily has nothing to say. Asked of his role on the team, Goodrich provides a quick answer.
“I’m not the guy to make a bunch of tackles every game, but I try to take up a couple blockers so that the guys behind me can make the plays,” he said. “My assignment is about allowing other guys to do their job.”
Taking up blockers is something that Goodrich, at 6-3, 260 pounds, does as well as anyone in the Ivy League. Last season Goodrich’s power at the line was a huge reason for the success of All-Ivy second-teamer George Paraskevopoulos ’02 and current captain and linebacker, senior Nate Spitler. That’s not to mention Goodrich’s own 27 tackles in the 2001 campaign.
“He really makes the people around him much better because he does his job so well,” said defensive line coach Pete DeStefano.
Goodrich’s own performance last season was highlighted by an eight-tackle performance against Columbia. However, Goodrich is not one to glance at statistics or care about personal achievements. The very nature of his job for the Red is selflessness.
“He has a tremendous understanding of the fact that this is a team without individuals,” said Pendergast.
Goodrich’s attitude is also characterized by hard work and a mental toughness that goes beyond the field of play.
In the first game of Goodrich’s senior season at Solon High School in Ohio, he tore his ACL and was forced to rehab for an entire year to be physically ready to play Division I-AA football in 1999. As if his work ethic had not been tested enough, all of his effort in the off-season was ruined when he re-tore the same muscle just a week into his stay on the East Hill. The wearied Goodrich was redshirted — thus gaining a fifth year of eligibility which he has not yet decided to use or not — and asked to resume rehab for another year.
“It was pretty tough, but I worked myself back to the point I’m at now,” said Goodrich.
Last season was a season of adjustments that saw the Red end its year at the bottom of the Ivy League in rush defense and third to last in points against.One can be sure that the quiet giant up front will be a driving force behind changing those numbers this season for the Red.
“We’ve got key guys coming back, and young guys who are willing to learn,” finished Goodrich. “It will be a good year for us.”
Of course, this leader would rather just go out and show you what he means: Talk is cheap.
Archived article by Scott Jones