Goode and Strong

Despite a late start in strength work compared to most of his teammates, one WVU linebacker has proven his mettle once again by bench pressing well more than double his weight in the Milan Puskar Center weight room.

Perhaps the rare kind of strength that allows one to bench press 500 pounds is simply in Najae Goode's blood.

After all, Goode (who weighs "between 230 and 235" according to his own estimation and indeed maxed out at 500 pounds in the bench press) is the one of three football-playing sons of John Goode, who had a seven-year NFL career with the then-St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles.

While the third-year sophomore may have a genetic advantage over some of his teammates, apparently some of them are a bit skeptical about exactly where that strength comes from.

"Most of them ask me what I'm taking," Goode said with a hearty laugh. "I just tell them that I go home after workouts and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. That keeps me going."

While the linebacker may not exactly be scarfing down a steady diet of health food (Goode said he has dropped from around 245 pounds last season to his current weight while keeping the same muscle mass simply because he "moved out of [WVU dormitory] Towers and stopped eating so much"), the peanut butter and jelly must be working.

Goode's phenomenal bench press numbers come only a short few years after he began his first weightlifting regimen as a sophomore in high school. The late start came as a result of a leg injury that kept him out of most football-related activity his freshman season.

With an abundance of strength at his disposal already, Goode has been able to focus on maintaining his body this offseason while spending extra time trying to learn more about the game.

"My main goal was to come in become a student of the game because you can never watch too much film," said the native of Cleveland, Ohio. "Benching 500 pounds wasn't easy, but I just try to keep it up and have a good work ethic, because once you get the strength down, it's all about learning."

Fortunately for Goode and the West Virginia coaching staff alike, the linebacker's brain may be every bit as strong as his body.

Goode was an honor roll student at Benedictine High and majors in engineering at WVU. He was a member of the high school jazz band and was cerebral enough of a football player to play both quarterback and linebacker -- a position often called "the quarterback of the defense".

All of that knowledge may help this season, as Goode says he is capable of playing all three linebacker positions in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense.

"I'm trying to fit in everywhere," he said. "After the coaches drill it in your head for two years, you pretty much get the concept."

While many of the WVU coaches are only in their second year on the staff, Goode's position coach and defensive coordinator have been the same throughout his stay in Morgantown.

That coach, veteran assistant Jeff Casteel, has said he would like to blitz more this season to help his defense get off the field on third downs -- a critical weakness of the 2008 squad. As a linebacker, that is a prospect that entices Goode.

"That excites everybody, because blitzing is when your number gets called," said Goode. "You pretty much have no responsibility -- you just can go and get there. That's a lot easier than reading (the offense)."

"Coach Casteel has been talking more about blitzing and we worked on it in the spring. It makes the game speed up a little bit faster and lets you use your ability."

As the summer strength and conditioning period ends and the start of camp looms ever closer, Goode said he believes Casteel will be pleased with the progress the defensive players have made since spring practice.

"He liked how we progressed in the spring and how we beat up on the offense a little bit," Goode said, with a wide grin and an easy laugh. "But he wanted us to keep going and when we come into camp, have that same intensity."

"Coach Casteel always wanted us to work on something different every day and make sure we get it down so we when we go out there, we can hit it like we did in the spring."

"It's been a real good summer as far as guys coming together. There's a lot of depth on the team. A lot of us young guys got a chance to play last year and we're still together this year."

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