You have to be a little crazy.
Here’s your assignment: Sprint 60 yards down the field and hurl yourself into the kickoff returner.
It took awhile for Elijaah Goins to figure out the secret to such a mission.
“I had to make myself fearless,” the Ohio State senior said. “I remember the first time I got in against Rutgers my first year on the team — it might have been first-game jitters — but I was nervous.”
When he watched that 2015 game, he realized he wasn’t going as fast as he could because he was thinking too much.
“I’ve trained myself that you can’t think,” he said. “You just have to go.”
As the Buckeyes prepare to go back to Rutgers on Saturday night, Goins has now established himself as a special-teams standout. He plays the “5” spot on kickoff coverage, lining up at the far right. The way Ohio State stacks its coverage to the left, Goins’ duty is what he calls compress and contain.
Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
He did it flawlessly against UNLV last week. He had three tackles inside the 20-yard line last week to earn player of the week honors on that unit.
It’s safe to say that Ohio State’s decision to reward Goins with a scholarship before the season looks like a wise one.
“I just love those kind of guys,” coach Urban Meyer said. “Universities often invest in things. When we offered him a scholarship and he took it, that was a great investment for Ohio State.”
Goins, a state-champion hurdler in North Carolina, enrolled as a regular student at Ohio State to study pharmaceutical sciences. That’s still his chosen profession and he works part time at a CVS store in Hilliard.
Goins became inspired to try out for the team while watching the 2014 Buckeyes win the national title.
“I played football in high school and I missed the feeling of being on the field,” he said.
He was one of four walk-ons to make the team out of about 40 who tried out. Now he is a key member on special teams.
“It’s honestly a blessing,” Goins said. “Coming into the program, I didn’t think I’d make such an impact. Over the years, I kept developing and doing everything I can for the team, and eventually coach Meyer gave me my shot to make something happen on the field.”