As a receiver-turned-cornerback for California JUCO powerhouse Contra Costa College in 2010, Isaac Goins proved to be a quick study.
Goins, a 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back, thrived in his new position, finishing his freshman year with 36 tackles, four interceptions and eight pass breakups. But Contra Costa coach Alonzo Carter knew that Goins, a star wide-out at nearby El Cerrito High, was just scratching the surfacing of his potential in the secondary.
“The first year, even though he led the team in interceptions, he struggled with the speed of the JUCO level,” Carter said. “This year he really focused on his speed. He’s running a legitimate 4.5 now. When he first came here, he was a low 4.6 guy. Now he’s a low 4.5 guy. He said, ‘Coach, what do I have to do to get better?’ So he really, really put in the work and at the same time kept his GPA at about a 3.5 taking the right courses. He qualified out of high school. That was really important.”
Goins’ rapid improvement at cornerback and his focus on academics made him just the type of JUCO prospect Maryland could recruit. As a sophomore, the future Terp picked off six passes and was selected to the All-Bay Valley Conference first team and nominated for all-region honors. Carter said Goins’ second-year campaign was especially impressive considering the lack of attention he received.
“People kind of shied away from throwing the ball his way,” Carter said. “When we play defense, we played more man to showcase our corners. Once he got used to the defense, it was like four games he had five picks. So we’re just like, people are starting to leave him alone. They don’t even test him. Then the other corner got three picks, and the other corner got three picks. All three were in the Top 10 in the state in pass breakups. It was just a happy little marriage.”
Contra Costa’s secondary this season also featured Cameron Fuller, who’s headed to New Mexico State, and Devin Brown, who Carter said is considering BYU. With three Division I-bound corners, the Comets played to their strengths by mostly running the 3-3-5 and giving all three players a chance to play at the same time. Goins was an obvious standout in the secondary.
“Early on he had probably his toughest test,” Carter said. “He played that left corner, which is the offensive right side, defensive left side, which is normally where you draw that Z receiver or the top guy. … We just felt very comfortable giving him the toughest assignment and keeping him on the wide side of the field to use his ball skills.”
Carter, who trained Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha when he came out of Cal, is known around the Bay Area for helping local players work on their speed. So it was no surprise to Carter that Goins called him shortly after he committed to Maryland with one request.
“The first thing he did was call me [the day he committed] and say, ‘Coach, when I get home, we really need to focus on speed training,’” Carter recalled. “He’s not content just getting scholarships. He wants to come in there and play. He knows he’s got to get ready.”
Carter said the same things he’s seen in Goins over the past two years are the same things Maryland coach Randy Edsall mentioned seeing on film, including “ball skills that are second to none.” With Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes graduating, the Terps have a need at cornerback that Goins could eventually fill.
“He’s coming to compete to play,” Carter said. “He’s not coming to redshirt. He’s a 2/3 kid – there is a redshirt year available. But you don’t recruit a JUCO guy to redshirt. You recruit a JUCO guy to play. There were no promises of anything of that business. There’s a high chance he’ll come in to compete and play. That’s all we were looking for.”