Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis was concerned.
He knew freshman wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was talented enough to play for the Longhorns this season, but he wondered if Goodwin would crack under the pressure of playing in front of more than 90,000 screaming fans.
Don't worry, Goodwin told him. He'd already won two world championships on foreign soil in track and field. He could handle the big moment when it came.
"I won't get nervous," Goodwin said. "I'll just do what I need to do."
He sure has.
Goodwin caught Texas' only touchdown in a 16-13 victory last week against Oklahoma and has performed so well in recent weeks that he's earned his first start Saturday night when the No. 3 Longhorns (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) play at Missouri (4-2, 0-2).
The annual Oklahoma game, with 92,000 fans split down the middle at the Cotton Bowl, has been known to crack some young players. It brought out the best in Goodwin.
"It's a tremendous amount of pressure for a freshman in this game," Texas coach Mack Brown said, "and he played lights out."
Texas track coach Bubba Thornton, who led the U.S. men's team at the Beijing Olympics last year, credits Goodwin's success on the track for that ability to stay calm.
Track athletes, especially in events in which they compete alone, must dig deep inside themselves to find their peak performance at the right time.
"Marquise has a unique sense of the moment," Thornton said. "The bigger the crowd, the bigger the moment, is not going to stop him."
Goodwin was heavily recruited in football and track. A superb athlete, he dominated the Texas state high school meet, winning 13 career medals _ seven golds _ in the state's largest class.
He also traveled to Poland for the 2008 World Junior Championships where he won the long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 4 3/4 inches and won a gold medal in the 400 relay. Last summer, he won the U.S. junior title with a long jump of 26-10.
"Usually freshmen have never been on a plane when they travel with us," Brown said. "He's been all over the world."
Texas recruited Goodwin for both track and football. He originally signed a track scholarship but it was quickly changed to a football commitment in preseason drills when Brown realized Goodwin was good enough to play this season.
That was a bit surprising because Goodwin didn't follow the recent trend of other freshman who enroll in the spring or summer to working out with their football teammates.
Track commitments kept Goodwin off campus until it was time to report for fall camp. He quickly made up any lost ground.
"We could tell right away he was going to be a factor," Brown said.
Goodwin has caught at least one pass in five games this season. He's also been a key player on special teams, blocking a punt against Colorado that was returned for a touchdown.
The touchdown catch against Oklahoma was his first.
With the game tied 6-6 in the third quarter, Goodwin caught three passes on a 12-play, 77-yard drive to the TD.
The touchdown came on a slant where Goodwin had to break a tackle inside the Texas 5 before he walked into the end zone. In the fourth quarter, he made a diving catch on the sideline that Brown called "one of the best I've ever seen."
The day wasn't without its hiccups. Brown and quarterback Colt McCoy said Goodwin ran the wrong route on McCoy's only interception in the fourth quarter.
But Goodwin's day was good enough that he moves ahead of junior John Chiles on the depth chart this week. Chiles is Texas' third-leading receiver but caught just two passes for 1 yard against the Sooners.
Goodwin intends to both play football and run track in the future.
"I love both of them. That's why I play. You can't play football and run track without the passion and the want-to," Goodwin said.
Thornton said it should work. He noted former tailback Jamaal Charles won a Big 12 title in the 100 meters and former defensive end Brian Robison was a Big 12 shot put champion who still dreams of making the Olympics.
Both split time between sports but were good enough in football to make it to the NFL.
"I think he can be great in both," Thornton said.