Marquise Goodwin is read to make the jump. Again.

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DALLAS — Marquise Goodwin is straddling the line between his NFL career and his Olympic dream. And on a recent Thursday evening, he has an epiphany.

“I got it!” he exclaims. “We’re going to make vegan cheesecake!”

Buried in the dairy aisle, the Bills wide receiver keeps scrolling through his phone. Grocery shopping with his wife has taken a five-minute pause as Goodwin puts himself in charge of picking a dessert.

At this time of year, Goodwin is usually consuming 2,000-calorie dinners: double orders of fried rice, chicken and salmon at the Bills’ regular hibachi dinners. Now, he’s considerably slimmed down his diet. For dinner, vegan nachos (yes, potatoes and veggie “cheese”) will include a tasty finish: as long as it’s simple.

Goodwin scans the recipe as Morgan waits patiently. It’s only seven ingredients, he tells her, “and don’t worry, it all looks organic.”

“The only thing I need to know,” he says, “Is where are the pitted dates?”

During the lull before jetting to Eugene, Oregon for the U.S. Olympic trials, then Houston for Olympic training camp, then Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, then Rochester, New York for Bills training camp—a whirl of 44 days—Goodwin has slipped into a routine. He and his wife, Morgan (a hopeful in the 100-meter hurdles), spend days at the Michael Johnson Training Center in McKinney, Texas some 50 miles from their Dallas home, then stop at Sprout Organic Grocery store on the commute back. Marquise prepares dinner; Morgan is sous-chef.

Organic cooking is a new obsession for the 25-year-old. Goodwin needed to slim into track shape, and find an outlet for months of mental solitude. The last time he juggled football and track was the lead up to the 2012 Games. A rising senior at the University of Texas, he was excused from Longhorns football practices in order to compete in the London Olympics, where he was a gold-medal favorite in the long jump. At the Games, he tied for the longest jump of the qualifying round. In the finals, he scratched his first jump. After overcompensating for the wind, he jumped too early on his second attempt. After a disappointing third try, he was out of medal contention. Goodwin burrowed his face into the sand, then buried his face into his hands. He finished 10th. “The world saw him cry,” says Morgan, then his girlfriend.

Four years later, with an NFL career on hold, he is ready to jump again.

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James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.

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