AUSTIN, Texas -- Somewhere over the Atlantic, just after what he had done and just before what he was about to do, Marquise Goodwin finally comprehended the applause were for him.
Odd that it should take him a moment or two to realize it. After all, the past few years of Goodwin’s life have come with its own ever-burning applause sign.
The applause was there when he won the NCAA title. Both times. They were there when he went to the World Championships. They were there when he took a 47-yard pass from David Ash to put Texas ahead for good in the Holiday Bowl.
Again and again the applause has been there for Goodwin. And here it was again, on his long flight home from London, from a bunch of strangers who were recognizing him for what he was, an Olympian.
“The stewardess lady, she asked me if I was an Olympian when I first walked on the plane and so about halfway in the air she announced it to everyone,” Goodwin said. “And they start cheering. But I had my headphones on and I was looking around like what’s wrong with these people? What are they doing? They looking at me like ‘Yea.’”
The applause didn’t stop there. They rang out again Thursday as Goodwin, who finished 10th in the long jump, came back to his football career.
“It was a real humbling experience out there in London and then I come back to where everybody loves me and is applauding me,” he said.
That applause, from his Texas teammates, was just as much for who he is as what he had done. The senior is their teammate, one of their top receivers and someone who was able to represent their school on the largest possible stage.
“What he did is unbelievable,” guard Mason Walters said.
“Here's a guy who won the last two USA titles and two NCAA Championships in the long jump,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He's a guy who competed in the Olympics and had a chance to win a gold, he was our most valuable player in the bowl game last year and he's always on the honor roll. There can't be a better two-sport athlete in football and track & field in America than Marquise Goodwin.”.
There might not be a faster player college football player in the nation. A recent list put him right at the top.
“They had it right,” Goodwin said.
He might also be the wide receiver carrying the biggest target.
“People are going to be talking a lot out there,” Goodwin said. “Let’s go. Bring it.”
Yeah, he seems to have made the transition from the long jump to the football just fine.
“Like flipping a light switch,” he said.
The light will not fully go on for three more days. Because of NCAA rules, Goodwin has to stay in shorts with no pads though four days of practice. The other players will don pads Friday.
That doesn’t mean he will be a step behind. In fact, he is already a step ahead of last season. In 2011, Goodwin didn’t join the team until after the first game. And that came only after convincing himself he did indeed want to play the sport he was willing to walk away from for track and field. The pull was that he missed the contact, the game and maybe most of all his teammates.
“Your teammate has always got your back,” Goodwin said. “That is what you don’t see on the Olympic team. It’s a team aspect but at the same time you got guys on there that is trying to compete against you. You’re fending for yourself.
“I’m just glad to be back out there.”
And ready to hear the applause once more.