From a distance it would have looked like any other group of friends on the beach, working out together, tossing a football around while relaxing afterwards. Except that when closer proximity lifted the veil of fog that blanketed the Long Beach peninsula that particular Saturday morning, it was obvious that this group of friends was in pretty good football shape.
Five years ago, you would have found the same group of guys working out around Long Beach—most of them shared a sidelined at Long Beach Poly. Now, they’re in a different situation: some have broken records, or been a top ten draft pick, or won a Super Bowl.
John Ross, a Jordan alum, just finished his rookie year in the NFL, and it was a disappointing and injury-hampered one for the league’s ninth overall draft pick last year. He’s out here making sure he’s just as fast as last year’s NFL combine 4.22 40 yard dash time to try and make an impact for the Bengals this year.
Ross has played the part of stand-up comedian since his time in North Long Beach, and he did the same throughout the workout. After a particularly taxing drill that had the players going up and down a hill, Ross said, “My quads just called and said we good, fam.”
The rest of the athletes are Poly alums. Randall Goforth is coming off an injury as well. He blew his knee out during training camp with the Eagles last year and spent the entire season working with the team to recover and rehab, and got the experience of a lifetime on the sideline with his team while they won last year’s Super Bowl.
Kaelin Clay spent the year bouncing back and forth and back and forth between the Panthers and Bills and created some memorable moments including a game-winning punt return for a touchdown for Carolina against the Jets, the second of his career. Since being drafted in the sixth round in 2015, Clay has spent time with five different NFL teams—his one-year deal with the Panthers expired at the end of last season and he signed a one-year contract with Buffalo in March.
Joining the group is Gerard Wicks, who played at Poly and then spent his college career at Washington State. He’s hoping to join his former high school teammates in the NFL this year and has worked out with the Chiefs and Texans in the build-up to this year’s draft. Other local players hoping to catch on are Lakewood, LBCC, and USC product Josh Fatu and Poly alum Josiah Blandin.
The training session was run by Goforth’s oldest brother, Ronnie, who runs a training company called Legendary Establishment. The day before they were at the beach, they were at a nearby high school with Poly alums JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jayon Brown.
“We’re trying to keep it all in the family,” said Goforth. “I’ve known all these guys since they were pups.”
Now the pups are grown, even though they’re playing the same games and making the same jokes they always made when they were together. Theey’re also proving the old proverb true: if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.