While Nick Goings isn’t a household name among NFL fans, he was the epitome of resilience during the early goings of his gridiron career.
Goings emerged as one of the best running backs in The Buckeye State in the mid-1990s.
Unfortunately, injuries slowed Goings during his days with his childhood dream team, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Goings eventually transferred to the Pitt Panthers to salvage his college football career.
He also got a break when another Panthers squad – the NFL’s Carolina Panthers – signed him as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2001 NFL season.
Goings saw more time as a special teams player before he burst onto the scene as Carolina’s go-to running back during his breakout 2004 NFL campaign.
Regrettably, Goings was never the same player since that season.
Nick Goings will go down in Carolina Panthers franchise history as a reliable special teams player who made the most of the opportunities that came his way.
Nicholas Aaron Goings was born in Columbus, OH on January 26, 1978.
Goings attended Dublin Scioto High School. He was named captain of the Dublin Scioto Irish as a junior in 1994.
Goings earned co-captain honors with Andy Katzenmoyer a season later. Goings ran for more than 2,000 rushing yards and led the Irish to a stellar 13-1 win-loss record under head football coach Bryan Deal in 1995.
Behind Goings’ emergence as a running back, the Irish won the Division II state title that year.
Goings finished his high school football career with 5,785 yards on the ground and 82 touchdowns.
He earned MVP honors in the Ohio North vs. South All-Star Game and the Ohio vs. Pennsylvania All-Star Game toward the end of his high school gridiron career.
Since Nick Goings hailed from the Central Ohio area, the Ohio State Buckeyes were the logical choice for his college football career.
“I grew up in Columbus, and OSU is everything there,” Goings told The Lantern’s Melinda Crowley on February 4, 2002. “Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a Buckeye.”
Nick Goings followed his heart and pursued his childhood dream of playing college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes – one of the most prestigious programs in the country.
However, he never played his final college football down at Ohio State.
Instead, Nick Goings traveled some 200 miles east and became a reliable running back for the Pitt Panthers.
College Days With The Pitt Panthers
Nick Goings started his college football career with his childhood dream team, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Unfortunately, Goings didn’t get off to a good start in the college football ranks.
Goings sustained a severe neck injury that forced him to redshirt his freshman season with the Buckeyes in 1996.
After Goings recovered, he moved to fullback so he could take the field more often.
However, Goings remained dissatisfied with his performance so he opted to transfer to the University of Pittsburgh, per Crowley.
It was an excruciating decision for Goings, who had to leave his friends and family from Central Ohio behind.
Nevertheless, he told Crowley some five years later he made the right decision at the right time.
Goings’ transfer coincided with Walt Harris’ promotion to Pitt Panthers head football coach in 1997.
Goings sat out his first year with the Panthers in compliance with NCAA transfer rules.
Regrettably, Nick Goings’ string of bad luck on the college gridiron continued when he suited up for Pitt in 1998.
He sustained an ankle injury during the offseason. Once the 1998 NCAA season kicked off, Goings lost the starting running back position to Kevan Barlow.
Despite running into several obstacles, Nick Goings didn’t let them hinder his dreams on the gridiron.
“I was hindered a little by the injuries; I was never 100 percent,” Goings told Crowley in 2002. “But I never gave up. I always held onto that dream.”
And a Pitt Panther at #10 on this list – Nick Goings.
— E-Fire (@EvanFirestone) June 13, 2017
Goings’ resilience paid massive dividends. He racked up a career-high 97 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 30-23 triumph over the Kent State Golden Flashes on September 18, 1999.
Pitt amassed 351 yards on the ground on 48 carries. It was the most rushing yards a Panthers team had produced in head football coach Walt Harris’ three-year tenure.
He eventually made the Carolina Panthers’ roster as an undrafted free agent several years later.
An ironic twist of fate paved the way for Nick Goings’ entry into the pro football ranks.
According to ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli, Carolina Panthers personnel director Jack Bushofsky moved his scouting trip to Pittsburgh several days earlier due to an abrupt change in kickoff time.
The change in schedule allowed Bushofsky to size up Goings during an early team practice.
“If we hadn’t seen him in a practice situation, we might not have identified Goings as a prospect,” Bushofsky, who loved Goings’ toughness and thought highly of him, told Pasquarelli.
Pro Football Career
Nick Goings signed with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2001.
Goings and his Pitt Panthers teammate Kevan Barlow were on Carolina’s draft board, per ESPN.
The San Francisco 49ers eventually drafted Barlow in the third round.
On the other hand, the draft festivities were quickly winding down without NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue calling Goings’ name.
A nervous Goings thought he had lost all hope.
However, fate intervened at the right time yet again.
With five minutes left in the 2001 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers dangled Goings an offer as an undrafted free agent, per Crowley.
Surprisingly, the unheralded Goings became a focal point of the Panthers’ offense in the early goings of the 2001 NFL season.
Goings had 40 carries in his first two pro football games. Unfortunately, he only had 140 rushing yards during that span.
Consequently, Goings saw less time at running back in the ensuing seasons with Carolina.
The Panthers were a team on the rise during Nick Goings’ first three years with the franchise.
Carolina was a terrible team in Goings’ rookie campaign in 2001. The Panthers won just one game in George Seifert’s last year with the Panthers.
When John Fox took over the reins in 2002, Carolina improved to 7-9 but missed the postseason for the sixth straight year.
The Panthers, behind quarterback Jake Delhomme, wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr., and defensive end Mike Rucker, made it to Super Bowl XXXVIII the following season.
It was the first time the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl in their short nine-year history.
Unfortunately, Goings and Co. lost to the New England Patriots on Adam Vinatieri’s field goal in the waning moments, 32-29.
Nick Goings saw more time at special teams at that point in his NFL career.
He had another opportunity to shine at running back after Stephen Davis, DeShaun Foster, and Rod Smart battled injuries during the course of the 2004 NFL season.
Goings responded in spectacular fashion.
He took over as the Panthers starting running back and promptly recorded four consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
Week 11. November 21, 2004 vs the Cardinals
Nick Goings went off!!!
-121 rushing yards
-NFC Offensive Player of the Week@Panthers #KeepPounding pic.twitter.com/Tx0I2ohSgW
— Panthers Legacy (@PanthersLegacy) August 31, 2019
Goings’ 121-yard, three-touchdown showing against the Arizona Cardinals on November 21, 2004 helped him secure NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Goings had 122 yards and one touchdown on a team record 36 carries in a 32-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints two weeks later.
Goings concluded his finest pro season with 821 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He also added 394 receiving yards and a touchdown in the air on 45 receptions for good measure.
Panthers head coach John Fox lauded Goings for picking up the slack for his injured teammates.
“He’s smart, tough, and a talented guy,” Fox told SI.com’s Jeffri Chadiha on December 13, 2004. “He’s not the biggest, strongest, or fastest back in the league, but he’s made the most of this opportunity.”
11-21-2004, Panthers beat the Cardinals 35-10. Nick Goings ran for the Panthers first 3 TDs and Muhsin Muhammad caught their last 2. pic.twitter.com/iAjTgcWoqC
— Scott F (@TheFrizz87) November 22, 2017
Alas, Carolina took a huge step backward after making it to the Super Bowl the season before.
The Panthers won just seven games and missed the postseason for the seventh time in the past eight years in 2004.
With Davis and Foster still hobbled by injuries, Nick Goings became Fox’s biggest running back threat heading into the 2005 NFL campaign.
However, Goings had a far less productive season compared to the previous one.
He had 284 all-purpose yards and zero touchdowns in sixteen games for the Panthers in 2005.
Nonetheless, Carolina duplicated its 11-5 win-loss record from two years earlier.
This time around, the Panthers couldn’t get past the 2005 NFC Championship Game.
2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexander’s 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns carried the Seattle Seahawks to victory over the hapless Panthers, 34-14.
To make matters worse, Nick Goings suffered a concussion when he collided with Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu during the game.
The tremendous impact caused both players to lay motionless on Seattle’s Qwest Field momentarily.
Goings fell behind DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster in the Panthers’ depth chart from 2006 to 2008.
Regrettably, Goings became a non-factor in his last three years in the National Football League.
He had just 62 rushing yards on 20 carries from 2006 to 2008. He also had just a solitary receiving touchdown during that stretch.
Goings sustained his fourth concussion in the pro ranks in Carolina’s fourth game of the 2007 NFL campaign.
The Panthers consequently placed him on injured reserve.
With the unfortunate turn of events, Carolina’s string of bad luck with running back injuries continued.
Carolina averaged nine wins per season in Nick Goings’ final three pro football seasons.
The Panthers matched a franchise record twelve wins in 2008 but fell to Kurt Warner’s Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Round, 33-13.
After Carolina released Goings on February 25, 2009, he didn’t sign with another NFL team and consequently hung up his cleats.
Nick Goings finished his eight-year pro football career with 1,470 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on 400 carries.
Nick Goings will always be the real 37 for the Panthers! pic.twitter.com/pBltOOaiMI
— Jeremy Chase (@JchaseAngler) August 6, 2021
He also finished his NFL career as the fifth-leading special teams tackler in Panthers franchise history.
Goings may not be a household name among NFL fans. However, his story of resilience and determination is one for the ages.
Goings’ agent, Jason Brown, summed up his client’s story perfectly to Crowley in 2002:
“Nick is not just a great sports story. His story is reflective of life, in that hardship is not determinative, is is only how you react to it that matters. From OSU, to PItt, to his opportunity with Carolina, Nick has never given up.”
Despite being a quiet guy by nature, Nick Goings was a known prankster during his days with the Panthers.
“He didn’t say much, but he was always good for a practical joke and laugh,” former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme told the team’s official publication (via Bleacher Report’s Eric Quackenbush) in the summer of 2009.
Nick Goings, his wife, and daughter have been residing in the Wilmington, NC area since 2012.
Goings has been passionate about working with young football players. He has organized several youth football camps in North Carolina over the years.
Goings helped organize a youth football camp at Supply Elementary School in Supply, NC in the fall of 2014.
The participants were children in the kindergarten and first-grade levels.
Goings admitted to WECT.com that he felt like a “big kid” when he conducted the football camps.
He remembered his own childhood when he looked up to different pro athletes. He’s happy to return the favor to kids in the state of North Carolina now that his playing days on the gridiron are over.
Goings told WECT.com that in 2014 he was happy helping kids establish healthy habits such as exercising at an early age.
Goings is a licensed realtor who currently works for Wilmington-based Waypost Realty.
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