He was ready for this two years ago. Or, at least, he thought he was.
In the fall of 2007, sophomore Colby Goodwyn was to be the latest chapter in Phoebus' rich history of running backs. But along came Shawne Alston, who put a strangle-hold on the position by rushing for nearly 4,000 yards in two seasons.
Now, two years later, it's finally Goodwyn's time. He's older, bigger, faster … and he's obviously ready. After four weeks, he's the Peninsula District's leading rusher at 138 yards a game and has scored 10 touchdowns.
"When Shawne graduated, he told Colby, 'Now it's your turn,'" Phantoms running backs coach James Holbert said. "And he's done it. Colby has answered every question. And there were a lot of questions."
Yes, there were. For his two seasons of playing behind Alston, Goodwyn primarily was used as a speed guy to get to the edge. But anyone familiar with this program's tradition knows that Phoebus backs run between the tackles. Speed is nice, but toughness is a prerequisite.
At 180 pounds last fall, strength wasn't Goodwyn's strength. But knowing his role would be different as a senior, he added 15 pounds during the offseason.
"With all that work, he's developed into an all-around back," Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said. "He can still get to the corner, but now he's running well between the tackles. There's been plenty of times he's run linebackers over."
Sound familiar? Antwoine Womack, Maurice Turner, Travis McCright, Elan Lewis, Dennis Mathis, Shawne Alston … the tailback position at Phoebus is what it used to be at USC. There are expectations, and there is pressure.
Goodwyn understood that two years ago when he thought he was next in line to replace Mathis, who had rushed for 2,148 yards in leading the Phantoms to the 2006 Division 5 championship. He understands it even better today.
"There's a lot of pressure," Goodwyn said. "You have to keep the rotation going with all the good backs Phoebus has had. It's great responsibility to play running back at Phoebus."
Not everyone could handle it. Sexton remembers a kid named Gavin Walls back in 1997 who had the unfortunate timing of replacing Womack, an all-state back who signed with Virginia.
"He just couldn't take the pressure of following Womack and being that every-down back," said Sexton, then a Phoebus assistant. "We ended up moving him to wide receiver, and he did extremely well there. But not every kid can come in and take the pressure."
Goodwyn learned plenty from one of the best Phoebus has ever had. Alston, now at West Virginia, is your prototype between-the-tackles back. And two years of playing behind him and observing him helped Goodwyn prepare for his time.
"I felt I was ready then, but I still had a lot to learn," he said. "Shawn taught me a lot of stuff that year. I wasn't as focused as I should have been, but I'm focused now."
Since backup tailback Tyree Lee could start just about anywhere else in the Peninsula District, Sexton's original plan called for Goodwyn to carry no more than 15 times a game. But with added strength and endurance, Goodwyn already has had 21 attempts twice.
Unlike most of his predecessors, Goodwyn also starts on defense. He was an All-PD defensive back last season. His coaches try to make sure he gets enough rest, but Goodwyn is equally valuable at both positions.
"I'll be kind of sore after the game, but it's football," he said. "You're going to take big hits. You have to ice up and get ready for next week.
"If you work hard in practice you'll be in the best condition of your life. It can't be any worse than practice."
Sexton isn't thrilled about spreading out his starting tailback's workload, but he considers it necessary.
"He's got a great knack for the ball," Sexton said. "He's one of those kids who you could put anywhere and he'll do a great job. He's got good football sense."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun