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Saint chooses W&M’s green and gold

Nansemond-Suffolk senior Baron Goodman signed a National Letter of Intent and accepted a football scholarship from The College of William and Mary Wednesday morning. Family, teammates, classmates and NSA faculty gathered to congratulate Goodman Thursday afternoon at the school.

On the gridiron, Goodman, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound offensive lineman, joins the Tribe after one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history. William and Mary’s 2009 season ended in the national semifinals of FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Div. I-AA), an 11-3 record and a win over the University of Virginia

“It’s a great opportunity, and it’s a challenge, to have to meet high academic demands at the same time there’s the demand to do a good job on the football field,” Goodman said.

According to Forbes Magazine’s rankings, William and Mary is the fourth-best public undergraduate institution in the country, and the top-ranked school that isn’t a military academy.

“Luckily, NSA pushes you no matter what to do well in your classes, and being involved in a bunch of extracurricular activities, I feel I’m going to fit in very well at William and Mary,” Goodman said.

Athletically, even during what most football players would consider the offseason, Goodman was putting in all sorts of extra effort as well.

“This summer, I was working out twice every day. I went to nine different camps all over the east coast and to two combines,” Goodman said.

This past season was the definition of mixed emotions for Goodman, though. Nansemond-Suffolk won its first state championship since the 2000 season.

Goodman suffered an ankle injury in a preseason scrimmage, came back midway through the season and played only about a half during NSA’s game against Portsmouth Christian before being hit by another injury to his other leg. Goodman was forced to be on crutches and an extra coach for the Saint linemen for practically the whole season.

Goodman was a team captain as a junior, a first-team All-VIS (Virginia Independent Schools) offensive lineman in his junior season and a first-team All-Tidewater Conference offensive and defensive lineman as a sophomore and junior.

Although he excelled on both sides of the ball for NSA, Goodman said William and Mary sees him as an offensive lineman.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t play with you guys this season, but hopefully you can come and see me play up in Williamsburg next year,” Goodman said to his teammates during Thursday’s ceremony in NSA’s library.

“It’s been crazy and stressful, but I’m glad it’s over and I’m going to a great school,” Goodman said.

“They (William and Mary) keep their academic standards high and play great football. They ended last season ranked third in the nation and lost to the national champion (Villanova) in the national semifinal. It doesn’t get much better than that as far as their success on the field,” said Goodman.

Goodman is part of a 13-player recruiting class for 2010 by the Tribe. The Tribe is coached by Jimmye Laycock, who has a 200-141-2 record going into his 32nd year as head coach.

Goodman joins one other alum from a Suffolk school who’s now in Williamsburg. Nansemond River’s Andy Topping will be a redshirt sophomore this coming school year. Topping played on special teams, as the center on extra points and field goals, for part of this past season.

“I’m excited it’s over, but there’s a lot more work I have to do before camp, to move up the pecking order again,” Goodman said.

The Tribe’s 2010 schedule has five home games, including dates versus traditional rivals VMI, Delaware and Richmond, and includes road games against Old Dominion, North Carolina and James Madison.