• John Macon Gillespie

Goodson & Gross Forever Linked

The South Panola Tigers exiting the 6A playoffs in the first round last season sent shockwaves across the Mississippi high school football landscape. Their defense being dominant all season was a shock to no one.

The Tiger defense allowed just over 14 points per game. In fact, they gave up 14 points or less in eight of their 12 games, including their playoff loss to Madison Central.

Up front in the trenches is where it all got started for USP. Seniors Drelan Porter and Ladarrius Rudd paired with juniors Eriq Kitchen and O’Bryan Goodson each had at least five sacks this season. While Goodson and Porter each also had double digit tackles for loss, as well. The talented quartet lived their opponents’ backfield last season.

Goodson was perhaps the best of the bunch, finishing the season with 52 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and six sacks. Disruption is his game, whether it be against the run, rushing the passer, or even batting down passes at the line of scrimmage.

With a slightly short, but stocky frame, and quickness rarely seen from an interior defensive lineman, Goodson has drawn comparisons to his older cousin Issac Gross. Gross is, of course, currently a defensive tackle at Ole Miss and a 2012 graduate of South Panola.

“We’ve been getting compared since I was a freshman,” Goodson told SES Mississippi. “There’s not many differences(between us), I’m just a little heaver than he was.”

Like Gross, Goodson is began to blossom as an SEC-level prospect his junior season. However, he’ll still working hard to improve and continue developing at his current pace. He will be looking to do just that when he attends the Fortius Project this Spring.

“Quickness off the ball, my speed, using my hands and having good feet,” are the qualities Goodson listed as his most impressive.

While those watching are in awe of those qualities, his mind will be fixed on competing and improving.

“I’m looking forward to developing more ways to use my hands and utilize my quickness.” Goodson explained.

Through his teammates and Twitter Goodson learned about the Fortius Project and was immediately excited for the opportunity before him.

“Just the fact of going and showcasing my talent and abilities,” He said.

He is equally excited about the opportunity his team has next season to chase another championship. Obviously after dominating the regular season last year they will be looking to finish the deal in a wide open 6A in 2016.

“We’re working super hard in the weight room and doing more reps. And more running, to stay in shape,” Goodson said.

Like many of the players Goodson plays with, there is lineage to prior South Panola greats. That lineage is directly responsible creating the University of South Panola name and reputation. It is far and away the most impressive football program in Mississippi and Goodson sees that as a big benefit to him and his future.

“It’s a great experience because it’s like you’re in college already. The work ethic the coaches provide, it’s like you’re already at a university,” Goodson said.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA

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