Carter coached Berkeley (Calif.) High’s football team against El Cerrito, where Goins was an all-conference wide-out. After the 2009 season, Carter was hired to coach Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif. Goins, meanwhile, held out hope for a Division I scholarship, but when Signing Day 2010 came and went, Carter reached out to the senior prospect.
“He kind of insisted on playing receiver,” Carter said. “He’s a great athlete, had excellent hands. You need good size and top-end speed to be an elite receiver. He wasn’t trying to be a corner. He said, ‘Coach, I like the ball in my hands.’ [I said], ‘Well, get an interception.’”
Goins, a full academic qualifier coming out of high school, briefly considered San Francisco City College before committing to Carter’s Contra Costa program. Over the next two seasons, Goins became exactly what Carter thought he could be – a Division I cornerback prospect. During a weekend trip to College Park, Goins further affirmed Carter’s belief in him by committing to Maryland.
“He met with the head coach, went in and committed,” Carter said. “We talked in detail. [Wide receivers] coach [Lee] Hull has done a great job with just being able to reach out, plucking a kid like Isaac out of California who has the academics to go to a place like Maryland.”
Goins, who also had offers from Idaho, New Mexico and San Jose State, was discovered by the Terps thanks to Contra Costa defensive coordinator Otis Yelverton. Prior to his arrival at Contra Costa this year, Yelverton coached Maryland redshirt freshman wide receiver Nigel King at Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy. Yelverton reached out to Hull, King’s position coach.
Maryland hasn’t made a habit in recent years of recruiting junior college players, save for defensive back Michael Carter out of Erie (Pa.) Community College in 2008. With a 3.5 GPA at Contra Costa and the athletic credentials to match, Goins had all the requirements that the Terps coaches desired.
“Maryland wanted to know his test score and his GPA out of high school,” Carter said. “He had over a 3.0 GPA out of high school. All those pieces fit – he was the type of student-athlete they were looking for as far as an elite junior college player nationally on the field and in the classroom as well. I thought it would be a perfect fit.”
Goins, a 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore, has grown two inches and added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame since high school. His physical changes at junior college were part of a large-scale transformation that also included an improved 40 time from a low 4.6 to a low 4.5. Everything Carter worked with Goins on was done with an eye on the future.
“We devised a plan immediately,” Carter said. “We wanted him gone mid-year, which is by January. He took his body to a different type of regimen as far as training. He benched 245, now it’s 315. He put on 20 pounds. He always played at 185 or 190. He’s 6-feet tall, so you can see it. He’s real thick, [with] lean muscle. He had five interceptions last year, six interceptions this year. I’ve kind of seen the ball skills carrying over from receiver to defensive back. He became a shutdown corner.”
There was almost a snag in the Terps’ pursuit of Goins late in the recruiting process. One week before his trip to College Park, Goins and wide receiver Najee Lovett – a Contra Costa teammate and Goins’ best friend – visited Idaho. Carter wasn’t sure if the two would be a package deal for the Vandals.
“They were possibly going to stay hooked together,” Carter said. “But I was like, ‘Go ahead and take that trip to Maryland.’ Coach Hull did the home visit and did a great job with the presentation. I already knew in my heart of hearts that once he saw Maryland, it was going to be a no-brainer.”