Gooden Has Plenty of Confidence

Former Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas standout defensive end Tavares Gooden was enjoying the new NCAA Football 2004 video game for PlayStation2 on Sunday evening. He gave his review of the game.

"It's tight but I don't understand why I'm not on it," Gooden said. "They have Kyle Wright and Tyrone Moss and those guys on it. That's OK. It's little things like that that are signs of motivation."

Motivation is not exactly something Gooden needs any more of because he has plenty of it right now.

"I've been to the bookstores and seen the stuff," he said after reading about how several other programs are predicted to win the national championship. "Don't tell our guys that. We're hungry. They made some new rule about not having two-a-days on two straight days. That's for other teams because we're getting so much work in now that when two-a-days start for us, it won't seem any different. Coach Swasey has been making warriors out of us this summer. That's why everyone likes him so much. We can't wait to start taking it out on other teams."

Gooden, who currently weighs 220 pounds, has spent the last couple months working out with his new teammates.

"We're lifting, running, everything," he said. "Coach Swasey is pushing us. I told him when I took my recruiting visit to UM that I wanted him to push me the hardest he could possibly push me. I told him to do whatever it takes to make me the player I want to be."

The standout defender, as most people know by now, will be making the transition to linebacker after playing with his hand down in high school.

"That's not a problem," he said. "That's another big reason why I picked Miami. I could have gone to places like Ohio State and LSU and competed right away with their top guys. Here that doesn't happen. As a freshman, you come in and learn from the best in the country. Guys like DJ Williams, Jonathan Vilma, and Rocky McIntosh, they will teach you things you need to know. I played in the All American game as a linebacker but these guys are teaching me new things all the time. That's how it works at Miami. When those guys leave, the next group will step in and be just as good. That's why we work so hard."

Gooden said he's very excited about this upcoming season, especially since he thinks he'll play.

"I've been working with the threes behind DJ Williams and Darrell McClover," he said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes to make an impact. I'm here to help. Miami football is who I am now. I'm going to spend the next few years of my life doing whatever it takes to help this team win. We all want rings. We all want to get back into the title game. This is the University of Miami, what do you expect?"

Gooden, who bench pressed 315 pounds during testing recently, finished in impressive fashion the 15-minute run last week.

"You run with your workout group," he said. "It's everyone, the seniors and everyone. I came in second. It was John Square, me, and Carl Walker. I felt so good. I was running by guys that have been here a lot longer than I have and I was laughing at them as I ran by. I ain't playin around. It's time to start ballin again and I'm ready."

The standout linebacker talked about some of the things he's seen on offense so far this summer.

"Brock Berlin is on another level right now," he said. "He's going to make people look like idiots if they think he's not ready. And Frank G., forget about it. I'm not even going to go into it. He's just unbelievable and the whole nation will soon find out."

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