Marshall sources confirmed the death of the outstanding defensive end of the Thundering Herd on Sunday, June 15, after talking with family in Jacksonville, Florida. Goddard was riding in Clay County, in Northern Florida, and the single-vehicle crash happened at 7:46 p.m. Saturday. He was air-lifted to Jacksonville's Shands Medical Center, but pronounced dead at 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Goddard died of severe brain trauma, despite wearing a helmet in a single-vehicle accident where he lost control, veered off a highway, was thrown into a spin on the bike and then thrown over 80 feet.
Marshall fans, and college football fans around the nation, have been contributing to a fund started on the Herd Nation website by Carlos and Mark Campbell. Fans in Huntington can contribute at Chase Bank, 1000 Fifth Avenue in Huntington by donating to The Johnathan Goddard Bereavement Fund. You can also donate on-line with a PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org on the web. Herd Nation was reporting nearly $6,900 in donations towards the $13,000 funeral, and any amount raised over the total will be donated to a Big Green Scholarship Foundation scholarship at Marshall University in Goddard's name. Fans from WVU, Michigan, Southern Miss, UCF, Florida, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia have also donated.
Current Marshall Head Coach Mark Snyder expressed the sympathy of the entire Marshall athletic department on Sunday. "This is a terrible loss for our football family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Goddard family," said Snyder. Snyder took the reigns of the MU program in the spring of 2005, right after Goddard's All-American season.
Goddard, 27-years old, was the father of four children including two daughters, Baylee and Zoe, and two sons, Johnathan, Jr. and Zachery as well as his fiancee', Amy Rinehart. Goddard played for former MU Head Coach Bob Pruett (1996-2004). Pruett, now the defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia, was so proud of Goddard on and off the field. "He truly exemplified the message of our football program that, in nine seasons, we never went into a game we didn't think we would win," Pruett told Huntington's newspaper, The Herald-Dispatch, in Monday's June 16 issue. "No one's perfect but, jiminy, he grew. The college experience worked for him." Goddard came to Marshall from Ed White H.S. in Jacksonville as a non-qualifier with a learning disability that he overcame to play four seasons for the Herd and become one of the most acclaimed players in Marshall's history.
Goddard, a Football Writer's Association of America All-American, was named the 2004 Pepsi/Marshall Player of the Year. He also took home the MU Defensive Most Valuable Player honors, and the team's "Pound-for-Pound" strength award. In addition to being named to the FWAA team, MU's second-ever Division I-A All-American besides Randy Moss in 1997, Goddard was named to collegefootballnews.com (cfn.scout.com) and CBS Sportsline.com first-team All-America squads and to the Associated Press and Walter Camp All-America second teams. Goddard led the nation in sacks (16) and tackles for a loss (28). He was the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-MAC and one of five finalists - MU's first ever finalist for the award - for the Bronko Nagurski Award that is given to the nation's top defensive player. He was a five-time winner of the MAC East Defensive Player of the Week as well as the MU/Pepsi Defender of the Week. Goddard was also named to two senior games, the Hula Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii and the Gridiron Classic in Florida at the end of his senior season, a year which concluded with Marshall's last trip to a bowl. The Herd fell to Cincinnati in the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl in December of 2004, 32-14, at Carter-Amon Stadium, the home of the TCU Horned Frogs.
One of Goddard's greatest plays was a 84-yard fumble return for a touchdown at Kansas State, turning what might have been a 14-0 lead for KSU into a 7-7 game when the Herd upset the No. 6-ranked Wildcats, 27-20, in 2003 in Manhattan, Kan. Also in 2003, in a 28-0 shutout of Ohio, Goddard returned a first-quarter fumble 40 yards for a touchdown to give Marshall a 14-0 lead en route to the shutout victory. That season also saw him return a fumble for touchdown at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes had to kick a last-second field goal for the win in "The Horseshoe," and he led the nation in fumbles forced with five in his senior season.
Marshall defensive end Jonathan Goddard dropped Ohio quarterback Ryan Hawk for one of his MU record four sacks at OU in Mid-American Conference action against the Bobcats in 2004. Goddard died from injuries in a motorcycle crash on Sunday, June 15.
In 2004, Goddard played what may have been his best game on national television Sept. 29 in a 33-25 win over Miami, Ohio, when he had four sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. The senior set a MAC single season record with his 16 sacks for that season. In the spring of 2005, Goddard was selected by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft on Sunday. He was the 206th overall pick in the draft.
In 49 career games at Marshall over four years, Goddard started 32 times for the Thundering Herd. He recorded 239 tackles (135 solos) with 27.5 sacks for minus-179 yards, 63.5 tackles for losses of 276 yards, 32 quarterback pressures, six fumble recoveries, 10 forced fumbles, an interception, 18 pass deflections and a blocked kick. Only Jason Babin of Western Michigan (75, 2000-03) had more tackles for loss in a career among NCAA Division 1-A players. Goddard's 63.5 tackles for loss are second at Marshall to only B.J. Cohen (MU 1994-97), a ten-year veteran of the Arena League, and his 27.5 sacks in his career are third behind Cohen and Billy Lyon (MU 1993-96), a tackle for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, and both of those players recorded their numbers against I-AA competition. He holds the all-time Marshall game record with four sacks versus Miami, Ohio, and Ohio U. in 2004. Goddard is going to be eligible for the Marshall Hall of Fame in 2009 after he was out of Marshall for five years under eligibility rules for the MU HOF which Cohen and Lyon are already members.
Goddard spent 2005 with the Lions, then 2006-07 with the Indianapolis Colts who won the Super Bowl in his first season although Goddard was sitting much of that season with injuries. He recently had signed with the Colorado Crush in the AFL, appeared in two games and was released. According to the family, he had been invited back to camp with the Colts for a 2008 tryout in July.
Goddard is survived by his children and fiancee' as well as his parents, Johnnie and Kathi Goddard, three sisters (Angela, Kinberli and Brittani) and one brother (Thomas). Goddard's full name was Johnathan Bruce Goddard and was born on May 11, 1981. He majored in Parks and Leisure Services at Marshall. Goddard was a four-year letter winner in football at Ed White H.S., also lettering in baseball. He was the 1999 Player of the Year, was All-State and All-Conference while leading Jacksonville in sacks as a senior. Funeral services were held at Lake Shore United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. with Reverend Mike Hailey officiating. Burial was Thursday, June 19, at Jacksonville Memory Gardens. Friends and fans can sign Johnathan's Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com.