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Monday, Feb 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Bucs Goode, Tandy sticking together

TAMPA - The third and final day of the NFL draft began Saturday with former West Virginia University roommates Najee Goode and Keith Tandy exchanging text messages detailing their anxiety as they waited impatiently for their names to be called. By the time it ended, the 2011 All-Big East defenders were calling to congratulate each other on the rare opportunity they have to continue rooming together in the NFL as members of the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay selected Goode, a linebacker, in the fifth round and Tandy, a cornerback, in the sixth. "As soon as I saw Keith's name come across the (TV) screen I started running around the house and yelling because we've known each other since we were freshmen and had class together and everything,'' Goode said.
"It's just so rare that guys get to be in a situation like this where best friends get to go to the NFL together. It's just special.'' Goode and Tandy, who shared an apartment and roomed together on Mountaineers road trips, were the first of four players selected by the Bucs on Saturday, completing a seven-player draft. Tampa Bay chose speedy Utah State running back Michael Smith with the first of two seventh-round picks and versatile Northwestern tight end/fullback Drake Dunsmore with the other. All four players may find themselves fighting for roster spots come training camp, but Goode believes his relationship with Tandy will give him and his roommate an edge in their battles. "It's going to mean a lot, because we know what makes each other go,'' Goode said. "We used to have those long summer days of training camp in college and we always pushed each other to practice harder and play harder.'' The pushing paid off as Goode steadily made the transition from walk-on to starter and eventually defensive star of West Virginia's 70-33 Orange Bowl win against Clemson in January. Goode had a key sack against the Tigers, but Tandy shared the billing with him, grabbing a key interception four years after he was forced to make the transition from high school quarterback to college defensive back. "I was recruited as an athlete and I actually thought I was going to play receiver, but when I got there my name tag was in the defensive back's locker room so I just started working out there,'' Tandy said. Goode, the son of former Eagles and Cardinals tight end John Goode, and Tandy met as freshman and became roommates when they realized they had a need to push each other off the field as well as on. "One of the reasons I roomed with him is because we both had real hard majors,'' said Tandy, who majored in forensic and investigative sciences while Goode majored in industrial engineering. "We knew we were going to have to do a lot of the same stuff.'' Goode and Tandy will continue doing "a lot of the same stuff'' with the Bucs, whose evaluation of the prospects was missing one minor detail about their lives off the field. "Quite honestly, I did not know they were roommates,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. "But I am not surprised one iota that they are. They really stood out at their university at their respective positions and as leaders on their team. "And I'm excited that we were able to grab both of them in this draft, because their toughness and their physicality is a big part of what that West Virginia program was built around.'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano experienced the toughness and physicality Goode and Tandy brought to West Virginia the last four seasons of his 11-year run as coach at Big East foe Rutgers, which never beat WVU while Goode and Tandy were there. "They were both a royal pain in the rear so I told them it's good to be on the same side now,'' Schiano said. "Tandy picked us off and hurt us in many ways over the years, so I'm going to be glad to be looking out there and seeing them in Bucs uniforms instead.'' Where Goode and Tandy will play is still a little uncertain. Goode started games at each of the three linebacker positions as a senior. He could play the middle or outside with Tampa Bay, Schiano said. Tandy also can play safety, but Dominik said the intention is to work him at his more natural position, which is cornerback. "Whether it's tackles, interceptions – all those things, they are both truly run-and-hit guys, and the defensive coordinator there and some of the defensive coaches there that I am very close to just could not speak more highly of them,'' Schiano said. "We're glad to have them on our side.''

rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979