Pete Saxon is expecting big things when he arrives on the Bloomington campus next fall.
The Plain City, Ohio, offensive lineman was one of the first to commit to IU Coach Terry Hoeppner for the 2006 class, pledging in late May. Recruited by co-defensive coordinator Brian George, the big man Saxon is convinced big things are ahead for the Hoosiers.
"The head coach, Terry Hoeppner, I was really impressed with him," said Saxon. "He's definitely going to turn Indiana around. He's going to do nothing but good things there."
To do big things, Hoeppner and his staff knew it needed to ink some big bodies in the '06 class. With no offensive linemen signed in the '05 class, luring some this season was an absolute must.
They don't come much bigger than Saxon. Listed by most as 6'6" and 290, Saxon said this week he's now up to 310 pounds thanks to extensive work in the weight room this off-season, and he doesn't see himself slowing down anytime soon.
"As long as I'm not growing out to the point that it's slowing me down, I'll put on as much weight as I can and as much weight as (the coaches) want," said Saxon. "If I'm at 350 by the end of college, I'm good with that."
Saxon said he's put on 30 pounds during the last 12 months, and it's had little effect on his speed. He said his 40-yard dash time only slipped by one-tenth of a second with the added weight, a sacrifice that he's more than willing to make.
"I'll take those 30 pounds and lose the tenth of a second, so long as I keep my nimbleness and ability to move around," said Saxon. "For offensive linemen, the 40 time doesn't matter that much."
Hoosier offensive line coach Bobby Johnson told Saxon just that when he was in Bloomington over the summer for IU's senior day camp. While the 40-yard time is a critical measuring stick for those who aren't in the trenches, the same isn't necessarily true for those like Saxon.
"(Johnson) said that they could care less if we have fast 40 yard dash times, because the only time we're going to be running 40 yards is to go down and celebrate fore a touchdown," said Saxon, who has run a 5.2 in the 40.
Instead of focusing on the 40-yard time, Saxon said the IU staff is looking for some other characteristics in its big bodies.
"He was interested in how we could bend at the knees, at the waist," said Saxon. "We did the exercise where we stand there with our feet together, and we just squat down as far as we can without bending our back to see what our flexibility is."
Johnson, George and the rest of the Indiana staff obviously liked what they saw from Saxon, and by extending an offer gave him a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.
Born near Michigan City, Ind., Saxon has followed the Hoosiers, Michigan and subsequently Ohio State while growing up, and has always hoped he would have a chance to play in the Big Ten.
"The Big Ten was definitely my No. 1 choice, considering all the teams I've watched and loved ever since I grew up," said Saxon.
Saxon will be working with Johnson once he arrives on campus, something that was also a big selling point for the Jonathan Alder H.S. standout.
"Coach Johnson, he's a great guy," said Saxon. "If I have to work with one guy for my whole college career being a lineman, he's the guy I want to work with."
Johnson and Hoeppner first became acquainted with Saxon when they were at Miami (Ohio) and recruiting a pair of his teammates – Ben Bates and Zach Hennis. Both wound up signing with Kentucky, but the groundwork was laid for Saxon to eventually join the coaches in Bloomington.
With his decision out of the way, Saxon's focus returns to his high school team, which will be trying to improve on last year's effort, which was the best in school history. Alder H.S. went 11-2 and advanced to the regional final in the state tourney, eventually losing to Versailles, 35-28.
Alder will have to replace three Division I scholarship players on offense in Bates, the 6'8", 300-pound Hennis and quarterback Kris Jordan, but Saxon still expects a solid encore performance.
"Our goal is always a state championship," said Saxon. "We have some big shoes to fill, but we have a lot of talent coming back. Once we fill the holes on offense, we have a heck of a defense that will romp through some teams. We have a difficult schedule, but we're going for the top."
Big Man Saxon a Big Catch For IU
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