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Northwestern football signing day profiles 2016: DE/OLB Mark Gooden

Gooden brings pure athleticism to the Wildcats' defense.

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POSITION: Outside linebacker/defensive end
HOMETOWN: Reynoldsburg, OH
HIGH SCHOOL: Reynoldsburg
247 COMPOSITE RATING: ★★★ (.8345)
OTHER OFFERS: Air Force, Boston College, Bowling Green, Harvard, Indiana, Iowa, Kent State, Marshall, Miami (OH), Ohio, Purdue, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Yale
MORE: 247 Profile | Hudl | Twitter


Gooden was the 19th commitment for Northwestern's recruiting class, verbally committing in July. He played mostly defensive end in high school, but he’ll likely play outside linebacker at Northwestern. His biggest asset is apparent in his highlight tape: speed. With a 4.72 second 40-yard dash time, Gooden possesses the raw burst to hunt down opposing quarterbacks.

He’s a great athlete, and a 34-inch vertical (which would rank in the top-15 for outside linebackers at last year’s NFL combine) adds to his skillset. Watching his Hudl tape below, his quick first step and never-give-up mentality when rushing the passer is evident.

As you can see, Gooden’s strength is rushing the passer, as his pure speed and ability help him evade offensive lineman. Hand-fighting is an apparent strong suit of his as well. At 1:47, Gooden puts that speed on an impressive display as he chases down the rusher 25 yards down the field to make the tackle. Then, a few seconds later at 2:14, Gooden demonstrates this ability again, even just as a junior, to read a play instantly and make the tackle just a split-second later. His biggest apparent weakness appears to be size, however as he’ll have to put on some muscle to have an impact at the college level.


Like many signees, Gooden will likely redshirt his freshman year but he’s someone who can make an impact a few years down the road—especially when some of NU's current linebackers graduate. His height and pure speed will pose a threat on the outside, but expect it to be at the linebacker position as his frame simply isn’t enough to push back a Big Ten caliber offensive tackle. Jango Glackin and Paddy Fisher round out the hard commits so far at the linebacker position from this class.