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To reach the top level of collegiate athletics, any athlete must be willing to go the extra mile. Galax High School senior Devae Goins is willing to go 2,200 of them.
Goins, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end, announced his plans Friday to play for Arizona Western, a junior college located in Yuma, Ariz., by signing a national letter of intent to play for the Matadors. Surrounded by family members in the GHS library, Goins penned his name on the dotted line and began a journey that will take him from Southwest Virginia to the far southwest corner of Arizona, a stone’s throw from the borders of both Mexico and California. “It’s a big step,” said Goins, a first-team all-Mountain Empire District selection at both offensive tackle and defensive end and a second-team all-Region C pick at DE. “Of course it’s a long way from home, but it’s a full-ride scholarship. Its what I’ve always wanted, it’s what I’ve worked for, and I’m just going to try to do the best I can.” Though Yuma, Ariz., is on the other side of the country, and may as well be on the other side of the world for a kid from Galax, the world has become a much smaller place during Goins’ lifetime, which is part of the reason for his college choice. “Pretty much it was the Internet,” said Goins’ coach, Jared Van Acker. “There were a lot of recruiting Web sites that I had sent information to. I think a lot of them saw that he didn’t sign on national signing day and wondered what the situation was, and then they came after him, looking for those D-I prototype players that didn’t sign. They got a good one right here.” Still available after national signing day, junior colleges began picking up interest in Goins, resulting in calls to Galax from a number of two-year schools. “They pretty much came looking for him,” said Van Acker. “After national signing day he received a lot of interest from the junior college ranks, along with Hargrave Military Academy. Arizona Western is in Yuma and I was getting calls from them, Mississippi Gulf Coast and the College of the Canyons in Los Angeles. All of them called in and really were interested. Arizona Western stepped to the plate and offered him a full ride in the two years he’ll be there.” From a 6-3, 180-pound sophomore, Goins has evolved into a 6-5, 230-pounder. “With room to grow,” Van Acker said. “Most of the schools that looked at him said, ‘We can put 30 more pounds on this kid.’ At 260, 270, he could be a force. He’s got long arms and he’s got a quick first step, a burst that everybody loved.” Goins amassed 160 tackles in his final two years of high school, including 19 tackles for a loss and 19.5 sacks. While there is still room to pack bulk onto his still-rangy frame, Goins knows he must grow in other ways as well. “I look for myself to mature a lot, and of course to get bigger,” Goins said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there. Arizona Western isn’t the biggest school, but it’s surrounded by a lot of big schools. After those two years, you don’t know what can happen.” Goins would like to hitch up with a Division I school at least in the same time zone as Galax, but only time will tell. “I really can’t say,” he said. “I’ll have to wait and see. I just thank God for the opportunity.”