Goins hasn't played football since high school, so whether he is a potential contributor or a mere novelty remains to be seen. The 5-10, 190-pounder was not among the top five cornerbacks listed on the post-spring depth chart but, based on the comments of his position coach and teammates, he still might have a chance to help out come fall.
"The thing I like about Melvin is he's a competitor," secondary coach Terry Joseph said recently. "He gets himself into some not-so-good situations because of his limited experience but he competes and fights his way out of 'em."
Marsalis Teague, listed as the No. 1 left cornerback coming out of spring practice, sees potential in Goins.
"Melvin is getting back in the groove of things," Teague said. "It's going to take time. The coaches understand that and he understands that. Once he gets that down pat, I think everything will be all right."
First-team free safety Prentiss Waggner liked what he saw of Goins during spring practice, as well.
"Melvin is a great athlete," Waggner said. "The guy has like a 40-inch vertical jump. He can transition really well. He's like Justin (freshman Justin Coleman); he just has to get that football mentality going and get those plays down."
Goins is not the first guy to give football a shot after exhausting his eligibility in Vol basketball. Stanley Asumnu made the 2006 football team as a special-teams player and wide receiver but failed to record a tackle or a catch in limited mop-up duty that fall.
Whether Goins is destined to follow a similarly unproductive path remains to be seen. His position coach is hopeful but realistic.
"Melvin has a shot," Joseph said. "We've just got to see how quick we can get the rust off. That'll be a discussion we'll have between me, him, Coach (Derek) Dooley and Coach (Justin) Wilcox - let him know exactly where he's at and see where he's at mentally with contending."