Aside from topping Sportscenter’s Top Ten with the catch you can see in the video below during his sophomore year, former Eastern Kentucky wide receiver Tyrone Goard may not be a household name yet. He certainly expects that to change after this weekend’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Goard was a big play waiting to happen during his time at EKU, as he needed only 80 catches to net 19 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons with the Colonels.
The 6-4 West Virginia native is looking to build on his performance at last month’s East-West Shrine Game under the watchful eyes of NFL scouts at the combine. Goard joined BSO from his training facility in Miami to discuss his childhood hoop dreams, why he feels like he’s capable of being a dominant receiver in the NFL, and how he plans on shocking scouts with his 40-yard dash time this weekend.
BSO: I hear that football wasn’t your first love growing up. Is it true that your mother had to convince you go out for football?
TG: Growing up I was taller than everyone, so being a bigger guy I fell in love with basketball. I wanted to be that guard, forward or center going into the NBA. As I got older my mom convinced me to play football. I didn’t like it much even though the field was right in my backyard. She’d have to tell me to get up and go to football practice. I was that lazy guy, I always loved basketball but football paid off for me.
BSO: What didn’t you like about football?
TG: There wasn’t anything about the game that I didn’t like really, I was just lazy. I didn’t like running down the football field because it was longer than the basketball court. I could run up and down a basketball court like twenty times compared to a football field.
BSO: As a basketball fan in West Virginia, did you follow Randy Moss and Jason Williams’ careers at DuPont High (WV.) as a kid?
TG: I lived in North Carolina until I was about 8 so I didn’t hear much about them as a kid, but as I got older and into high school (after moving to West Virginia) I’d start hearing their names more and more and about what school they went to. I finally realized that their high school was down the road from mine, so it became interesting and made me want to make a name for myself since I was coming out of a school that was right down the street from theirs. That was something I wanted to accomplish.
BSO: Did Randy Moss become the player that you looked up to in football?
TG: Pretty much yeah. I never paid much attention to anyone else because his name stuck out to me because going through high school and playing football everyone was like ‘hey you could be the next Randy Moss kid, etc.’ When I figured out who he was I just tried to do what I could to make my game like his or close to it.
BSO: What kind of offers did you have coming out of high school and how did you choose Eastern Kentucky?
TG: I had a bunch of a smaller schools telling me I could walk-on and pay my way through. I didn’t want to do that because staying in West Virginia would’ve been trouble for me because all my friends stayed there. I got a call from a JUCO out in Cali, and I took a visit out there and told the coach that I was probably going to go there because I wanted to get out of West Virginia. It was like a week or two away from football camp at Eastern Kentucky when their coach called me and told me to come out for a visit and that they were going to offer a full scholarship. It was exciting for me because they (EKU) didn’t talk to me for a few months after they called once early on, but they finally called me at the end and offered me the full scholarship, and I took that chance and it was good since it was closer to home.
BSO: Your cousin Darrion Scott (Vikings, Redskins via Ohio State) played in the NFL after being drafted by Minnesota in 2004. Have you talked to him at all about the draft process and what to expect at the combine?
TG: I haven’t talked to him much about it because he’s a pretty busy guy. I tried calling him during the season but it’s hard getting in touch with him.
BSO: How about some of your fellow EKU alums who have played in the league recently like Yeremiah Bell (Jets), Derek Hardman (Buccaneers), and Antwaun Molden (Jaguars)? Have you talked with any of them?
TG: My roommate at EKU was Justin Bell, Yeremiah’s cousin. I actually saw Yeremiah in Lexington, Kentucky and there wasn’t much NFL talk. It was more him telling both of us to stay focused and keep our heads up. Nothing really about the NFL.
BSO: What part of your game do you think has improved the most since your season ended at EKU and you began your prep for the draft?
TG: Definitely my ability to be explosive. My redshirt junior year I had around 653 yards and 11 touchdowns, coming off a season like that just knowing I had to improve on my yards and be more explosive on my route running and be more explosive running down the field. This past year I had 900 yards on 41 catches, so my yards per catch went up while my catches went down. I was more productive coming off the ball and being explosive making bigger plays for the team. Coming down here to train at Pete Bommarito’s in Miami, they’ve actually helped me be even more explosive off the ball. Pete told me that I probably have some of the strongest legs even though I’m pretty lean down there. He told me to just think deep and push-off and it’s really helped out a lot.
BSO: You mentioned being a little lean. EKU had you listed at 6-4 about 190 during the season. Where are you at with your weight now?
TG: At the East-Shrine Game I came in at just under 6-4 and weighed 203 lbs. Recently I came in at 207. I can still run effectively at 207 or 208.
BSO: Do you feel more comfortable telling scouts that you’re a receiver who can make catches over the middle now as opposed to just being a vertical guy since you have the added weight?
TG: I’ve always thought of myself as being a guy who can be versatile and make plays anywhere. A lot of people think that ‘oh, he’s just a downfield guy, or a go ball, go ball guy’, but Scouts look at my film and see that I ran a lot of vertical routes because I was the deep threat on my team. Contact for me was never a problem, I’ve just always needed to work on my route running and getting in and out of my cuts.
BSO: During your career at EKU you played at Kansas State (almost pulled an upset) and at Purdue, but other than those two games you played exclusively against FCS-level competition. What do you say to NFL scouts who question whether you can perform against NFL corners?
TG: At the East-West Shrine Game I think I made a statement that I can compete with the guys from bigger schools. I showed that I can get away from press coverage. It was only one guy out of I don’t know how many balls that I had thrown to me that pressed me up and that was Duke Williams (S, Nevada), and that’s only because I messed up my read on that play. Scouts wonder whether I can get away from press or if I’ll be able to get separation, and that’s what I’m trying to prove them. I want to prove to them that I’m up there with the best of the guys, if not better.
BSO: Even though you’re confident in your ability to matchup against NFL corners, the fact remains that about 90% of the players on active NFL rosters at the start of last season came from FBS schools. Guys like you from FCS schools are in the minority. What part of your game do you think sets you apart from the other FCS guys in this year’s draft and why should a team take a chance on you over them?
TG: I really think I’m a dominant wide receiver that got overlooked by FBS teams. Of course my coaching too, don’t get me wrong I had wonderful coaching, but I think if I had a coach to break things down a little better then I would’ve been that top guy coming out of high school. West Virginia was more a basketball state, so I didn’t get that kind of coaching. At the same time, everybody needs work and everybody can get better. For me to have an opportunity and a chance, I can show a coach that I can come in and out of a cut just as well as I can run downfield. If a coach is going to take a chance on me, I’m going to show them that I can do what I need to do as far as being a top receiver for the team.
BSO: What’s your current 40-yard dash time?
TG: I want to tell you about my 40, but I’ve got to surprise people. People are expecting me to run in the high 4.6, 4.7 times or run a high 4.5, so right now I just want to come out and shock people.
BSO: Well are you one of these guys who puts a lot of stock in his 40 time, or do you feel like game speed is completely different from a 40 time?
TG: I’ve always felt like when I’m running in the game I’m a lot faster than I am without pads because I’m the type of guy who plays better with the ball in my hands. Going through college I don’t think we ever worked on the 40-yard dash except for like one week. No mechanics or anything. I think I ran like a 4.7 the first year I came in, but I knew I was football fast.
BSO: Do you pay much attention to the mock drafts that come out on the internet?
TG: During the football season the projections started coming out, so I was looking. I saw they have me projected as 5th round to free agent, so I thought people were sleeping on me. Once I started training I told myself that it’s just internet talk and just focused on me and letting scouts see that I’m actually a dominant player. I’m just staying positive and recognizing that I’m blessed to be here.
BSO: Are you willing to play special teams to make a team’s roster?
TG: Of course, I don’t mind special teams at all. Anything I can do to help a team win, they need me to rundown on kickoff, I’m there. Whatever I need to do to be on the team.
BSO: A lot of NFL scouts look at young receivers and ask whether or not they are willing to block down field and help spring running backs in the ground game. How would you grade yourself as down field blocker?
TG: Actually this year we were a running team at EKU. A lot of times the running back wasn’t specifically running to my side, but I’m always blocking down field. I was always taught that if you can’t make the block then you should get run over to slow down that defensive back in pursuit. I’m not afraid of contact, and I know that a lot of times it’s up to me as a receiver to block safeties and corners down field.
BSO: For those who haven’t seen you play, is there a current NFL receiver who you think is a good comparison for your skill set?
TG: It’s tough because I’m a versatile player. I can be the underneath guy or over the top guy while maintaining my speed. Maybe a Michael Crabtree. I’m not going to say I’m as good as him, but I can be up to his level.
BSO: So would you like to play in an offense with a mobile quarterback like the one Crabtree played in last year?
TG: Having a spread team with a mobile quarterback like Kaepernick and a running back like Gore, it obviously makes them dangerous at all levels. Having a quarterback that can run usually leaves you with one on one coverage outside, so it’s a positive for me. They either have to stay one on one, or they take someone out of the box and go two on one on the outside against me. Either way I’m contributing to the team.
BSO: What are you going to do with that first NFL paycheck?
TG: I’m not a flashy guy, I don’t even wear jewelry. I have a car and all I want to do is put a new engine in it. I definitely want to get my mom, dad, and sister out of West Virginia too.
BSO: Are you much of a trash-talker on the field? How would you deal with a corner like Richard Sherman?
TG: I’m not really a trash-talker. I go out there and handle my business, and if a DB has something to say I’ll smile at him and get him the next play. I was taught at EKU to let my pads do the talking. Nothing good usually comes out of getting into it with a DB. Could be a penalty or it could end up being money out your pocket in the NFL. I’ve got to be smart and get into a DB’s head without getting into that.
BSO: What is an NFL team getting when they draft Tyrone Goard?
TG: They’re getting a guy that’s trying to win. I’m willing to step on the field anywhere, I’ll play scout team quarterback even though I can’t throw if that’s what will help the team win. I’m not worried about fame or money, I just want to win.