ORONO – Football is a game that requires tremendous intensity and emotion.
Alex Goyins aspires to demonstrate both of those qualities every time he puts on his University of Maine uniform.
This fall, the senior safety has expanded his role as a physical and emotional sparkplug for the Black Bears. Whether on special teams or as a member of UMaine’s pass defense package, Goyins has been making a huge impact.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder from Berlin, N.J., hopes to continue that trend during Saturday’s 2 p.m. Atlantic 10 game against Villanova at Alfond Stadium.
“I’ve made plays where they’ve needed to be made and filled the role that I needed to fill for the team,” Goyins said.
In last Saturday’s game at Towson, he broke through and blocked a punt – which was returned for a touchdown – to give the Bears a big psychological lift and a 14-0 lead.
“He generates energy from his teammates with his enthusiasm and the things he brings to the table,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove. “He does his job in a very passionate way.”
The blocked kick was the fourth in the career of Goyins, who long ago established a reputation as a hard-hitting special-teams standout. He led UMaine with 10 special teams tackles a year ago.
“Every time I’m out there, I just give 100 percent effort,” Goyins said. “Coming in as freshmen, our first opportunity to make an impression on the coaches was through special teams.”
Intensity is a trademark for Goyins, who redshirted in 2002 and has been a backup safety. This season, No. 23 has become a defensive playmaker in UMaine’s “nickel” and “dime” pass-defense packages.
Goyins is tied for seventh on the team with 19 tackles and leads the team with three pass breakups. He also has forced a fumble and recovered another.
“He made us, as coaches, play him more on defense,” Cosgrove said. “He’s got very prominent and important roles on our team.”
Goyins, who in five years has developed a thorough knowledge of UMaine’s defense, has been around the ball often. He credits defensive coordinator Robb Smith with implementing a system that fits his particular talents well.
Goyins is quick to exhibit his enthusiasm, jumping around and shouting loudly after he or a teammate makes a big play.
“When I’m out there showing emotion and being excited, that’s just a tribute to the preparation and hard work we’ve been doing during the week and I’m excited to showcase that on Saturday,” Goyins said.
Goyins credits older brother Ted, with whom he played at Eastern Regional High School, with teaching him the importance of desire and intensity on the football field.
“He was all of 150 pounds but he was the hardest hitter on the team,” Goyins said. “He played with the most emotion, so he really set that example.”
Goyins also has embraced the importance of his role as a senior leader. He has tried to show his commitment through his work ethic while helping inspire the younger players.
“He’s been an important part of the growth of this team,” Cosgrove said. “He’s been a real presence in our locker room and our hallways. He’s been a very good leader of the young men on this football team.”
Goyins, a journalism major who is minoring in business, is a two-time UMaine Scholar-Athlete and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team in 2005.
“His teammates respect the heck out of him,” Cosgrove said. “He’s a very personable, intelligent, well-spoken young man. They see a guy who’s very invested here and has had success.”
Goyins is thankful to his parents, Theodore and Susan, for teaching him some valuable life lessons.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from my family members, my mother and father,” Goyins said. “When things seem to be getting a little crazy, I can refocus because I have a great family and friends behind me and God in front of me.”
One of his father’s sayings has stuck with him.
“Growing up, it was always ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get,'” said Goyins, who has tried to demonstrate a concerted and inspired effort in everything he does at UMaine.
Goyins’ hope is to help lead the Bears back to postseason for the first time since 2002.
“We’re looking at each game, game by game, in a must-win mentality,” Goyins said. “We’re trying to improve using a step-by-step process.”