When defensive tackle Deon Goggins decided to come to Syracuse, it was about making his own path. "…One of my goals was to be different," Goggins expressed. "I could have stayed home and played ball or went anywhere else, but it was to be different and create a pipeline to come here, and I mean it's working, especially from the JUCO standpoint."
Syracuse's branches now extend to California. The fruit bore of those branches: junior defensive tackle Zian Jones, junior defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster, and junior wide receiver Christopher Clark. In their transition to the east coast, Goggins has been able to be a guide to them, a leader.
"Yeah I talk to ‘em a lot. Even before we got into the season, I talk to ‘em a lot because I was here," Goggins said. "Of course we had Mikhail Marinovich. I knew him before I got here. He was like a big brother to me and then you had Lou Alexander. He is closer to my area and I know how it feels to come.
"We're far away from home, so talking to Chris Clark and Brewster and Zian, all them guys, it's like me trying to help them get acclimated before I get up out of here so we talk all the time. We have a real close bond between us. I mean, we're LA guys, so when we're around each other, it's kinda like being home."?
Outside of experiencing life on the east coast, Goggins has also experienced what it is like to play opposite one of the teams he grew up watching, USC. During last season's game, Goggins was tenacious in the first half, attacking the backfield. As the game progressed, less and less of that tenacity was seen. Goggins spoke about what has changed since that last game in him to become a better player.
"Honestly, just trusting myself," Goggins shared. "Last year was my first year coming out actually playing Division I football, full on, all games. It was just me second guessing myself and not believing in my technique and really believing what I'm saying and this year, it's a lot different. I mean it took me a year to get a sack last year and I got one my first game [this year] and hopefully I can keep that continuing. So this year's just about like coach preaches, effort.
"Just believing what I see and believing in my technique, which is what I'm doing and taking more pride in."
As a member of the Orange defense's frontline, what Goggins does with his teammates, including Pierce-Brewster and Jones, will affect the rest of the defensive unit.
When asked what it means for the defensive line to provide enough pressure to take just that off of the secondary, Goggins responded, "Everything. In football, everything starts up front, whether it's on offense or defense. So it's gotta be up to us to get pressure or to play on their side of the ball for everything else to happen like it's supposed to."
One of those players that the Orange defense will be faced with to stop is Penn State University transfer, running back Silas Redd. Goggins addressed Redd, while also sharing his thoughts, and nickname, for Redd's teammate in the backfield, Curtis McNeal.
"He's a good running back. It's kinda switch up with, I call him ‘Caveman', #22 (Curtis McNeal). That's what we know him as in LA. He's a good back, too. Last game, you saw 22 came in and played and then they switched it up with Silas Redd. He's a good back. He's a big back, so it's just about going out there just playing and believing in our technique and stopping the run like we did last year, and just executing."
Goggins recently shared that Syracuse's key to this season is executing the little things. He provided an update into how the team is coming along.
"Practice is going pretty good so far," Goggins said. "We still gotta come along and try to perfect it. Nothing's perfect… whether football or life, nothing's perfect. So just trying to get it as perfect as we can to our abilities…whether that's in the meeting rooms or on the field. It's all about preparation first before you get on the field."
The Orange will be on the field soon enough. But it is a different field than last year, where Syracuse played in front of the hometown USC crowd. However, little has changed for Goggins.
"Same thing. I just want that W," Goggins expressed.
The Orange take on the Trojans at 3:30pm Eastern today at New York's College Classic at MetLife Stadium.