Former Vol PG taking ‘grid’ shot
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 5:54 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Melvin Goins has noticed plenty of differences between the hardwoods of Tennessee’s basketball courts and the football practice fields.
For one thing, there are many more people he needs to meet.
“I really haven’t gotten to interact with (Coach Derek) Dooley a lot,” Goins said after a recent practice. “There’s a lot of people out here, a lot of positions, a lot of coaches.”
Goins is trying to prove that there’s not really much difference between playing football and playing point guard as he did for the Vols’ basketball team for the past two seasons.
The senior is testing his skills in the secondary during the spring to see if there’s a future on the football squad next season now that his basketball eligibility has expired.
Tennessee’s coaches didn’t mind giving him a chance, but they may need to be convinced that he deserves a spot on the team come fall.
“I see him as a point guard right now,” Dooley said when asked if he saw Goins as a safety or cornerback. “I can tell you, when we play three-on-three, he’s on my team.
“We’re going to be good when we get into the offseason three-on-three hoops tournament.”
Even if the coaches offer him a spot for the 2011 season, Goins would need a waiver from the NCAA to play one season after using up his basketball eligibility.
Goins is set to graduate from Tennessee in the summer with a degree in sociology, so he would also need to enroll in graduate school to be eligible.
It may be unusual for a four-year basketball player to consider a new sport, but it’s not impossible.
Greg Paulus played a season of football as a quarterback at Syracuse in 2009 after four seasons of playing point guard at Duke.
South Carolina freshman point guard Bruce Ellington wants to become a two-sport star by adding football to his responsibilities, though he isn’t allowed to practice with the football team until the summer.
Goins estimates he hasn’t played organized football since the eighth grade.
“I haven’t played in so long. It’s all coming back slowly,” he said. “It’s all mental right now. I’m used to basketball where you know the plays, you know where you’re supposed to go so you react off instinct. Now I’m thinking a lot, and that’s not really good. You want to be able to get the plays down and know your zones and know where you’re supposed to be at on the field.”
Defense seemed like a natural fit for the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Goins.
He averaged 7.9 points and 2.8 assists in 33 games during the 2010-11 basketball season but always seemed most comfortable on defense and logged a team-high 57 steals.
“I looked at the stats, 1.7 steals per game. I told him he’d make all-conference if he keeps up that pace in football,” Dooley said.
Of course, on the basketball court he had a short distance to cover to contain his opponent, and help was never too far away if he needed it.
“Out there on the field, it’s a lot more space, so you’ve got to know where your help is and how to play your man,” Goins said. “It’s just real, real difficult, but I’m catching up, though.”