Kenneth Goins never hoped that Tyler Cierski would hurt his calf, allowing Goins to move into the starting fullback role. The redshirt freshman wanted to win the job outright, through old-fashioned competition, not by default.
Compassion aside, he’ll take it.
“You don’t want to be the backup guy,” Goins said. “You want to work to be the starter. So I was just out there doing what I could do, showing the coaches that I can execute the plays and execute the technique the way they want me to do it. Eventually, I was hoping it would lead to me being the starter. I wouldn’t say it changed me or anything. I’d just say I was working hard to try to gain that role.”
In offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense, fullbacks are used sparingly, in short-yardage blocking scenarios and little else. Cierski, the first-stringer last season, actually started just one of the 11 games in which he played, carried three times and caught zero passes. He entered summer as the presumed starter, but between the calf injury and Goins’s ascension, the Terps cannot afford to wonder what could be.
“We need him,” Locksley said of Goins. “Obviously with the situation at fullback with Cierski being out, we do like to utilize a fullback in our system. We feel like Kenny’s kind of done some things, he’s a multi-purpose-type guy who gives us the ability, possibly as a runner, as a blocker, as a pass-catcher. We’re going to need hit mot play big and step in with Tyler being out.”
With his 225-pound refrigerator frame, Goins certainly looks the part. He was a two-way all-state player at Baltimore’s Gilman School, rushing for 290 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior season. During the conference championship game that year, Goins rushed for an overtime touchdown and converted the two-point try, too.
The Greyhounds never utilized a fullback, but Goins dug deep and blocked oncoming blitzers enough to ease the transition at Maryland. He wished Locksley’s offense called for more fullback carries, but knows his role now is to protect.
“You just have to have the mentality to blow the guy up that you’re going against,” Goins said. “You can’t go out there scared, thinking that they’re bigger or stronger than you. You just have to get it done.
“It was a big adjustment. … I was a running back so I thought I’d be getting the ball more. We have different packages where things can happen. It’s kind of tough, but you have to get it done.”
Coach Randy Edsall said Goins would also appear on special teams, where he has lined up with the first-string kickoff coverage team this summer. With Jacquille Veii and Joe Riddle both sidelined with injuries during an open scrimmage, Goins also took handoffs with the third team. When asked whether Goins could receive carries, Locksley deferred to Edsall. Either way, Goins has the versatility to contribute, whether by blocking, chasing down kick returners or, he hopes, taking a handoff and bulldozing forward.
“When we started camp, he would go with the ones for one period and I’d go for the ones with the next period,” Goins said. “It was already starting off a battle anyway. I don’t like the fact that he got hurt and I got to step up. I wanted to get the spot by beating him out. But I guess being in the spot now, I’m going to try to keep it, by what I do in practice and in the games. I’ll keep playing hard and see where it gets me.”
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