Draft Prospect: LB, Jonathan Goff Q & A

Matt Alkire talks to NFL draft prospect Vanderbilt linebacker Jonathan Goff. Goff is projected to be a middle round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and has drawn interest from a number of teams. Exclusive Q & A inside.

Matt Alkire interview courtesy TitansInsiders.com. Original article published April 4, 2008 ( here )

Matt Alkire: Christopher Gasper from the Boston Globe said in a recent article that "there is quiet and there's Jonathan Goff quiet". Off the field it seems you have a reputation for being a man of little words, but on the field your play certainly speaks for itself. Are you quiet on the field as well or do you try and get in the opponents' heads with some words?

JG: (Laughing) "I don't talk too much to opponents, but I do try to talk to my teammates because I feel like communication on the field is obviously going to help you. I found that most of the time when we were messing up by not executing our assignments or using the right audibles it was because we weren't talking enough, so I think on the field you have to talk especially as a linebacker."

Alkire: We've already interviewed your teammate Chris Williams and he told us that Earl Bennett needs to apologize for stealing all of the spotlight down there at Vanderbilt. Have you guys every just held him down and beat on him a little bit for that?

JG: (Laughing) "Well I mean, Chris would probably say something like that because he is an offensive lineman and Earl is a wide receiver, so that's just the way it is. Earl is going to get more attention, he plays a more marketable position. I'm not taking anything away from him because his stats and his film speak for himself."

Alkire: We're going to be interviewing Earl here soon for our site. Is there anything you'd like us to pick on him about for stealing all of your press?

JG: "No, usually he'll have pretty funny answers when he's asked about me, but I don't really have anything for you to say back to him."

Vanderbilt LB Jonathan Goff sacks Mississippi QB Seth Adams Sept. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Alkire: Now in high school you started out at safety and wide receiver, moved to playing some quarterback as well and then finally ended up at running back and outside linebacker. Talk to us about those transitions from position to position and why you moved around so much.

JG: "In high school I started off as a quarterback and an outside linebacker actually. My freshman year I was playing on the sophomore and the junior varsity team and they were just trying to get me time as a quarterback. My sophomore year we already had two quarterbacks, so they moved me to wide receiver because they thought I could contribute there. My junior year I played wide receiver and started to get more time at quarterback and running back as well as defensive back. As a senior I played running back and outside linebacker."

Alkire: Working in recruiting I know it's really tough to get recruited out of New England. How did that go for you?

JG: "I went to a bigger school and our football team our senior year was ranked nationally, so we actually had five or six guys that ended up playing A, AA or in the Ivy League, so I didn't have many problems."

Alkire: During the summers you mentor younger kids in your hometown and are also a campus ministry retreat leader. Talk to us about both of those things as well as what else you like to do in your spare time if you would.

JG: "My sophomore year in high school I led a couple of campus ministry retreats. I thought it was more just getting to know your classmates outside of the classroom really. In the summers I worked as a counselor at a summer camp which was just like an outside sports oriented camp for kids ages 6 to 12. I don't get to do it anymore because of summer workouts obviously."

We know you've traveled to Europe and obviously you've traveled to Alabama. Which one was weirder? When Matt Leinart was at USC he dated some celebrities. Did you or Earl or Chris every get romantically linked with Dolly Parton?

JG: (Laughing) "I'd have to say Europe just because everything was so different. I definitely wasn't putting mayonnaise on my French fries though. We were in Austria with the men's chorus and sang at a few chapels and marketplaces and got to see the city so that was nice."

"I'm going to have to say no on the Dolly Parton thing for me, but I don't know about the other guys. I probably would have heard about that."

Alkire: Onto some football stuff, what do you key on prior to the snap? How crucial are pre-snaps reads to being a good linebacker?

JG: "The first thing I'm checking is the formation and the backfield set and then I just try to see if any of the linemen are what I call talking to me, which is just checking to see if they're sitting back in their stance or if their heavy. I also check to see if there are any small gaps between two of the linemen, but all the other gaps are regular. Being able to pick up on stuff like that is huge because it just lets you anticipate what you're going to see because you know they're only going to run certain plays out of certain sets most of the time from studying film all week. It just really helps you jump the gun and make a play."

Alkire: You had two interceptions and five pass breakups this year for Vanderbilt which shows some coverage ability. Talk about pass defense for a linebacker. Expand on pass defense for a linebacker.

JG: "We play primarily zone defense, so usually we would drop back into zones and receivers would push us one way or the other. At that point you read the quarterbacks eyes and try to read their eyes and jump on the ball. A lot of it is instinctive, but our linebacker coach does a great job with keeping our pad level down and teaching us how to drop back into zones properly."

Alkire: Talk about your Shrine Game experience on and off the field. Obviously there is the football side of things, but you also get an opportunity to brighten the days of some sick children by meeting with them. What did that mean to you?

JG: "It meant a lot to me just to be able to go to the hospital and spend that time with the kids. It was clear how much they appreciated us coming out to the hospital to hang out with them and it was really an eye-opener for a lot of us just to see how much those kids go through and how strong they are even though they're so young.

"I didn't get to review my game film, but I did have fun out there and got to play a lot more special teams then I did in college, so that was fun for me."

Alkire: Right now are you getting looked at by both 4-3 and 3-4 teams and who particularly have you been seeing some serious interest from?

JG: "I met with both 3-4 and 4-3 teams at the Combine for interviews, but as far as particular teams it's hard to tell because they do a good job keeping you in the grey. It's a lot different then being recruited out of high school because then they're trying to get you, but now it feels a bit like the opposite because they're just trying to gather information about you. I haven't had any private workouts or anything yet."

Alkire: Who was the toughest player you went up against at Vanderbilt and why?

JG: "At Vanderbilt it was Justin Geisinger who is with the Washington Redskins now. There was an offensive tackle named Andrew Whitworth at LSU who was a really tough player as well.

Alkire: You were elected captain in 2006 which must have been quite an honor. Are leaders born or bred?

JG: "Some people are natural leaders, but I think it's a little bit of both. Some people when given the opportunity are just able to come through and stand up and lead. Honestly I just think it's a combination of both."

Alkire: Last question. The names of Vanderbilt's top prospects are Chris, Jonathan, Earl and Curtis which also sounds like the lineup for a good country band. Have you guys talked about doing that together if football doesn't work out?

JG: (Laughing) "No, we have not. Up in Boston we don't get much country music, so I didn't get my first dose until I was down here in Nashville. I'm more of a hip-hop, R&B or alternative guy. I guess you never know about the future in country singing though."

Matt Alkire is the co-founder of www.scoutsnotebook.com and is also the Northeast Recruiting Analyst for Scout.com, working in high school recruiting. Scout's Notebook is a completely free website.

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