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Gonzaga’s Goodson leaves to play football

Gonzaga point guard Demetri ‘Meech’ Goodson, who started 68 of 69 games the last two seasons, is leaving the basketball program to play college football, Bulldogs coach Mark Few said.

Goodson recently completed his junior season. Few said because GU doesn’t offer football, Goodson can transfer to another school and he will have two years of eligibility. Goodson is expected to return to his home state of Texas, possibly at Texas A&M, where his older brother Mike played running back, or at Texas State, coached by Dennis Franchione, who was Mike’s coach at Texas A&M.

“I’m proud to be associated with him,” Few said. “He’s a tough kid, a great teammate and from a coaching standpoint, day in and day out at practice he gave everything he had and in games, too.

“He gave it a good run up here, but his heart is kind of set on this. I just want him to graduate and he’s in great shape to do that and then he’ll be in great position for the rest of his life.”

Before Goodson orally committed to Gonzaga in October 2007, Arizona State offered him a football scholarship even though he hadn’t played the sport since his sophomore year at Klein Collins High in Spring, Texas.

“I have decided to pursue football next year,” Goodson said in a GU release. “I would like to thank my coaches and the staff for the opportunity to play here. I also want to thank the city of Spokane and all of the Zags fans who have supported me over the years. It’s been an awesome experience.”

The 6-foot, 175-pound Goodson started every game last season, averaging 5.2 points and a career-high 2.6 assists. He averaged 22.7 minutes, but lost playing time over the last 15 games to freshman David Stockton. As a sophomore, Goodson started every game with the exception of Senior Night and averaged a career-best 6.4 points and 1.8 assists.

As a freshman, Goodson hit one of the more memorable shots in school history, driving the length of the court and connecting on an 8-foot runner to give Gonzaga an 83-81 victory over Western Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Goodson struggled with his shooting throughout his career and opposing defenders often sagged off him when he had the ball on the perimeter. His field-goal percentage dropped from 54 as a freshman to 40.9 as a junior, but he was regarded as one of the team’s toughest players and best defenders.

“I have a ton of respect for his toughness, how hard he plays, how hard he practiced every day, and his resiliency dealing with all the noise,” Few said.

Gonzaga was hopeful Goodson would play his senior season, earn his degree and then follow a path similar to Greg Paulus. He played four years of Duke basketball and, after receiving a waiver, finished up with one season playing quarterback for Syracuse. Goodson told Few he thinks football presents his best opportunity to play beyond college. Mike Goodson has played two seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

“If anybody could pull this off, it’s probably a guy like Meech,” Few said.

Gonzaga loses its most experienced point guard in Goodson. Stockton and Marquise Carter, who played point in junior college, emerged as important players in Gonzaga’s surge over the second half of last season. The incoming class features highly regarded point guards Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos, as well as guards Kyle Dranginis and Chris Sarbaugh.

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