Other top offers
Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Penn State
Gooden is a consensus top-5 player in the state of Tennessee (No. 1 according to 247Sports), and is among the Vols’ top targets in 2016. The Vols were his first big offer in January of 2014 when they officially told Gooden that he had a spot in the 2016 class ahead of Tennessee’s spring Junior Day on February 15th. Gooden responded by committing to the Vols when he made it to town that weekend. Gooden would actually decommit from Tennessee a month later ahead of a visit to Ole Miss, but the Vols have remained at, or near the top, of his leaderboard throughout the process.
Gooden then named Mississippi State as his leader back in October of 2014, but after a couple of late-season visits to Knoxville and some time talking to current Vol coaches and players, the talented defensive end once again named Tennessee as his leader. LSU has since seen its chances increase as well after Gooden raved about a visit over the spring. All-in-all, it looks to be shaping up as a UT, LSU, Mississippi State battle heading into the summer, but his status has changed multiple times, so it’s hard to give too many definitive statements about his recruitment.
RTI average: 4-stars
How He Fits
Gooden is big, deceptively fast and very instinctive in the way he plays the game. He isn’t the most explosive player at the point of attack, but he uses his strength and stance to avoid blocks and fight towards the ball carrier. He is a sure tackler when he gets his hands on a running back or quarterback, and does a great job os staying focused on his keys and not getting sucked in by play-action or zone-read fakes. As he develops his body and works to refine his technique and fundamentals, he has the potential to be a force at the next level from his DE spot. The Vols signed one of the best defensive line classes in the country in 2015, and adding players of Gooden’s quality in 2016 would only increase the depth and talent of an impressive depth chart along the DL.