Goodwin trying best to make Steelers’ roster

If you’re an athlete, they’ll find you.

In C.J. Goodwin’s case, that’s the way it happened.

It being signing a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I grew up a basketball player,” Goodwin, a Wheeling native and Linsly graduate, admitted Saturday via telephone from Pittsburgh. “It doesn’t seem real, but it’s starting to get real sitting here looking at this playbook.”

Goodwin went through a pair of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) with the Black-and-Gold last week as an undrafted free agent.

“I was awestruck the first day being on the same field as those guys,” Goodwin noted. “However, I quickly realized that I’m a teammate of those guys right now. It’s football. It’s work time.”

Goodwin’s story is nothing short of amazing. Like he said, he grew up playing basketball. At 6-1, 178 pounds, football didn’t seem to be in the future for the former Cadet hoops standout.

After a stellar 4-year basketball career at Linsly, he enrolled at Bethany College in an attempt to continue is academic and athletic careers. While that didn’t actually work out the way it was planned, good things have a mysterious way of happening.

“It wasn’t really like I thought it was going to be at Bethany,” Goodwin said. “So I went to Fairmont State as a regular student for my third and fourth years.”

That’s where his first break occurred.

“During my senior year I was playing basketball against the head football coach (Tim Lopez) and I had a nice dunk,” Goodwin recalled. “He told me that I should try out for the football team.

“The rest is what got me here where I am today.”

After a season with the Falcons, Goodwin transferred to California (Pa.), following in Lopez’s footsteps as he became defensive coordinator for the Vulcans.

Goodwin caught 11 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown last season for Cal.

“It wasn’t my best season by far,” Goodwin said of 2013. “I was behind three other seniors who had been in the program for three years, so it was tough, but I worked in on special teams.”

It was at Cal’s Pro Day in late March that Goodwin really caught the attention of the Steelers. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash; bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times; vertical jumped 40 inches; and 10-10 standing broad jump.

That’s where the second part of Goodwin’s story kicks in.

Having known former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Mel Blount for some time during his days at the Leatherwood campus in Wheeling, Goodwin reached out to Blount to tell him how his Pro Day had gone.

“He said great,” Goodwin said of Blount’s reaction. “The next thing I know, I’ve got a tryout with the Steelers. I did fairly well, but it must have been good enough for them to keep me around.

“I’m here in camp, so I’ve got a shot (at making the team),” he added. “I’m from Wheeling, W.Va. I’m not even supposed to be here, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I’ve got nothing to lose.”

So, what about his chances of sticking around?

“If I keep flying around like I have been and put forth the effort, I think I’ve got a good shot,” he offered. “I’ll run down there and hit somebody.”

To make room for Goodwin, the Steelers released undrafted free agent wide receiver Jasper Collins, a Mount Union product, who was promptly picked up by Cincinnati.

I hope C.J. makes it. His story has a good-feel to it.

When Goodwin frequents the Ohio Valley, he works out at The Total Athlete in Triadelphia with Josh Pyles.

MOST of you know that I am NOT a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I root for Miami.

However, I do like what the Steelers did Thursday when they signed top draft pick Ryan Shazier to a four-year contract worth $9.5 million.

While I would have loved to see Shazier still in the Scarlet-and-Gray, I think he will turn out to be another All-Pro linebacker for the Steelers.

North can be reached at