As we continue our catch-up from the week away of our Countdown to Kickoff, we’re reviewing more of the top 100 recruits in Auburn history (since 2000 at least).
Yesterday we hit on Jovon Robinson (the original high school version), and we know how his time on the Plains ended, but today we get yet another low note as one of the infamous Trailer Park Four pops up onto the radar.
Antonio Goodwin was part of the 2010 signing class for Auburn, which was Gene Chizik’s first full class for the Tigers. He pieced together a pretty good group in 2009, and in 2010 he was able to put together 33 commits for the sixth-best signing class in the country. Goodwin was one of two wide receivers out of Atlanta (along with Shaun Kitchens — more on that in a moment), and along with Trovon Reed, the three put together a pretty solid collection of talent on the outside.
Coming out of Atlanta, he was the 150th best player in the country, and the 19th best wide receiver. At 6’2, 173, he earned four-star status and should’ve been a solid contributor for the Tigers in his career.
Here’s what they said about Goodwin beforehand —
“Goodwin is one of the fastest prospects in the state of Georgia and that is what makes him a top recruit. He is a vertical threat, he is explosive, and he is someone that can make a big play downfield at any time. He needs to work on his route running and catching the ball more consistent. He has great length (6-2), he goes up for jump balls well, and his best ball is ahead of him.” - Chad Simmons - South Region Analyst
It took several games in 2010 for Goodwin to make an impact on the field, but he had his best game against Arkansas in a top-fifteen October showdown. Goodwin caught his only pass of the season and blocked a punt in the second quarter. It was the first punt block in four years for Auburn, and it was part of a huge special teams performance that allowed Auburn to pull away for the 65-43 win.
A couple of months later, Auburn won the national championship. Goodwin wasn’t a huge part of the team, but was poised to be in the mix to help replace Darvin Adams. That is, until March came.
Things were going swimmingly for Auburn. National title in hand, the Tigers put together what was ranked as the top class in the country by some reports in February. We would need to see some young talent step up in 2011 after 35 players from the championship team vacated the premises via graduation or early entry into the NFL.
Then in the early morning of Friday, March 11th, Goodwin, along with Shaun Kitchens, Dakota Mosley, and Mike McNeil, entered a trailer with a gun and robbed five individuals. There are stories about the origination of the gun, and what they were going to do, but in the end, you can’t commit armed robbery. The four players were picked up quickly and taken into custody where they were held on a huge bond with numerous charges against all of them.
Gene Chizik wasn’t pleased after he’d had to dismiss Eric Smith just a couple of weeks before —
“The players arrested in connection with this deeply troubling incident have been permanently dismissed from our football team,” Chizik said in a statement. “While we realize the legal process will run its course and these young men have a right for their case to be heard, playing for Auburn University is an honor and a privilege. It is not a right.
”We hold our student-athletes to a high standard of conduct on and off the field as representatives of Auburn University, and this kind of behavior is not tolerated.”
Eventually, Goodwin would take the brunt of the legal system’s ire, and in 2012 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. At his sentencing, his lawyer argued that he had been impaired by smoking synthetic marijuana the night of the home invasion. Michael Dyer (who allegedly owned the gun), testified that spice was a huge part of the culture at Auburn at that time.
Auburn won the Fulmer Cup in spades with these arrests, and it started a fantastic two years on the Plains before Gus Malzahn came in and took the Tigers to the BCS Championship in his first year.