(TAMPA, Fla) Najee Goode and Keith Tandy are best friends and seemingly inseparable teammates who met when they came in together to play football for the University of West Virginia’s Mountaineers. After completing their careers at West Virginia, both men were selected to play in the 2012 East-West Shrine Game®. “We both had pretty good years, so that wasn’t a total surprise,” said Keith Tandy. But then, to top it all off, they were both drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2012 NFL Draft. “That’s just crazy, to think we’re both going to the same team!” said Najee Goode.
“We met the first day of fall camp back in 2007,” said Tandy, remembering how what can best be described as a soul mate friendship developed. “After things settled down that fall, we began to hang out together and it was like, where have you been?” During their last two seasons at West Virginia they roomed together, and over the years of attending games together, their families became good friends as well. “Najee got drafted by Tampa Bay in the round before me, and when he did my family was yelling, screaming, and jumping all over the place. Then when I was chosen, Najee called me and we were yelling and screaming on the phone. It was crazy!”
Last season Tampa Bay’s new Head Coach Greg Schinao, was the head coach at Rutgers – one of West Virginia’s Big East rivals. “When Head Coach Schinao called to tell me Tampa had drafted me he said, ‘I guess if I can’t beat you guys, I’ll join you!’” said Tandy. “I told him that Najee and I roomed together in college and he said, ‘Well, you’ll probably be rooming together again when you come to camp.’”
It was in this year’s game against Rutgers that Tandy recalls asking his friend Goode for some help, but he got turned down. “It was freezing cold and snowing and we both had decided not to wear sleeves – which was a bad decision,” said Tandy. “It was late in the game, I’d made a tackle and I remember lying on the ground looking up and all I could see was Najee. I asked him to help me up and he said, “Naw, it’s too cold.”
Both men play defense. Goode is a versatile linebacker who can play all three linebacker positions and Tandy is a speedy, defensive back with a reputation as a big hitter. Together they played big roles on one of the toughest defenses in college football last year.
Goode was a two year starter for the Mountaineers, who primarily played strong-side linebacker. He earned first team All-Big East honors in 2011, ranking 12th in the conference in total tackles with 88, 18th in sacks with five, and 10th in tackles for losses with 15. Over his college career, Goode had 158 total tackles, 23 ½ for losses, eight sacks, and two interceptions. His scouting report says, “He has good movement skills for his size; plays well against the run, fills gaps quickly, and can flow from sideline to sideline.”
Tandy was a three-year starter for the Mountaineers at cornerback. He earned second team Sports Illustrated All-America honors as a junior after picking off six passes and breaking up 17 more. Tandy was fifth in the country in pass breakups and 10th in total interceptions. In the 2011 season, Tandy had four interceptions and broke-up nine passes to become a repeat All-Big East performer. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, 24 pass breakups, and 188 total tackles in 45 career games. Sideline Scouting described Tandy as “a bone-crushing hitter who can scare receivers like a fierce middle linebacker.”
Both Tandy and Goode feel the chance to play in the 2012 East-West Shrine Game helped their chances in the NFL Draft. “Playing in the East-West Shrine Game was an amazing experience for us both. Meeting and visiting the kids at the Tampa Shriners hospital had a big impact on us. Their courage and determination was inspiring,” said Goode. “Being able to put a smile on the kids’ faces was an incredible experience. Anytime I have a chance to do something like that just creates a real good feeling inside,” added Tandy.
As for football, Tandy said “Being able to hold my own against top talent from around the country was encouraging. I knew I was ready for the next level. I played on the West Team, and Najee played on the East (West won 24 to 17) so I guess I have braggin’ rights over him.”
“Looking back it was just an excellent experience,” Goode added. “The coaches we had were amazing, and I made a lot of friends that I’m still in contact with on a regular basis. I really think the experience helped us both in the draft.”
After they were drafted, Tampa Bay Head Coach Greg Schiano was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times as saying, “Those two guys are football maniacs. I mean, they love the game, and they play with such passion.” Being drafted into the NFL is a dream come true and both players are still getting used to the idea that they have the chance to be on the same team once again. “It’s so exciting to have the chance to be part of a young team and contribute as a player,” said Goode. “It will be good to have someone I know when we get started in Tampa.”
About the East-West Shrine Game
The East-West Shrine Game is the longest-running college all-star football game in the country and features some of the highest-rated players in the projected NFL draft ranking. While the teams are divided by East and West, the players come together for the beneficiary of the event, Shriners Hospitals for Children. Learn more at www.shrinegame.com.