Since making the decision to transfer from Notre Dame to Indiana, Chauncey Incarnato has been paying his dues. The 6-5, 275-pound tackle has spent the 2005 season working along with the scout team offense preparing Indiana's defense and trying to improve his own game.
"I feel I'm improving everyday," said Incarnato. "That's my goal. It's a long-term thing that I'm going to continue to work on and look at along the way to make sure I'm making the progress I'm hoping to make. I work my hardest everyday and try my best in practice to perform to the best of my ability and see where that takes me."
Incarnato made the move to Bloomington after announcing he would leave Notre Dame in August. He has a sophomore class standing, but three years of eligibility remaining. Even though he had worked his way up to second-string for the Irish, Incarnato felt he wanted a fresh start.
"The adjustment has gone well for me, the coaching staff has been really great helping me get adjusted and the guys on the team have really accepted me as one of their brothers," said Incarnato. "It's been really wonderful and I feel like I made the right decision."
Indiana Coach Terry Hoeppner recruited Incarnato while Hoeppner was at Miami (Ohio) and former Indiana Coach Gerry DiNardo recruited him for the Hoosiers. At the time Incarnato picked Notre Dame, but the firing of then Notre Dame head coach Ty Willingham left a bad taste in his mouth and ultimately led to his decision to transfer. Incarnato kept interest in both Indiana and Hoeppner, leading him to pick the Hoosiers over schools like Ohio State, Maryland and Louisville when he decided he would transfer.
"I think the future is exciting for this team," said Incarnato. "I think we have a great team this year and I think we're only going to get better. We have a lot of young guys with talent. We're going to lose some upperclassmen this off-season, but I think Coach Hep is really doing great things for this program to ensure that we can replace them. I think Indiana can be one of those national powerhouse teams and definitely be a team that people are going to want to play for."
Incarnato is working on his game in a situation that should only lead to promise. Spending each week going against a talented Indiana defense will give him a good idea of what playing in the Big Ten will be like.
"I think going against the starting defense has been phenomenal for me," said Incarnato, who has been playing left tackle. "I think it would help anyone. You can only get better by going against the best. I think our ones and twos are some of the best players in the Big Ten. Anyone going against them everyday is going to get better, including me."
Going against the first-string defense has also given the coaching staff a chance to see where Incarnato is in his development.
"I think it's been great for him," said offensive line coach and running game coordinator Bobby Johnson. "He's not sitting there like a backup guy right now going against the scout teams, he's going against our number one defense and seeing it at game speed.
"He's going against Victor Adeyanju and Ben Ishola and seeing two very good defensive ends day in and day out. He's getting a good chance to measure where he's at and find out the hard way what he needs to work on. It's going to pay off for him in the long run."
While Johnson does not always get a chance to coach Incarnato in practice since he is preparing the starters for the upcoming game, he does make sure to keep up on his progress and work with him whenever he can find a spare moment.
"I talked to Coach Johnson a lot during the week," said Incarnato. "He keeps tabs on me because right now there are not a lot of things that need to be said. My games are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays getting the defense ready. My games are in the weight room four days a week in the offseason getting bigger and stronger. I feel like that stuff kind of goes unsaid because there's not a whole lot for us to work on when I'm not preparing for a game."
Johnson knows how important his developing relationship with Incarnato is to the entire Indiana football team. With Incarnato expected to anchor a young but talented Indiana line in the years to come, he will be a very valuable piece beginning next season.
"I talk to Chauncey every day," said Johnson. "He's a pretty conscientious kid. He comes into see me when he gets a chance. He's the type of guy who comes in everyday to watch the scout team film to check on his progress and see where he needs to improve.
"I get a chance to work with him during individuals and stuff like that then I go back and watch my scout guys going against the first stringers to see where I can help him. One thing Chauncey has is he is a great competitor. He goes hard every play. We need to define his technique a little, he's still a young guy. He's doing quite well right now."
Right now Incarnato is using his time to get used to Bloomington. After transferring in early September, he is still behind his teammates and getting to know his surroundings. While he is making friends on the team, he is still adjusting to standing on the sidelines on Saturdays.
"I've been getting along great with all the offensive linemen," said Incarnato. "The older guys have been a huge help for me and everyone has been a lot of fun. I'm learning a lot watching and talking to the older guys and I'm enjoying competing with everyone else.
"It's hard sometimes to watch the games. It's not easy. I'm sitting here in my second year of college football and of course I would like to be out there contributing to the team. But the circumstances are otherwise for me and that's something I'm just going to have to deal with. I'll get my shot next year or whenever I'm eligible and hopefully it'll make up having to sit out for a year."
It may be hard, but Incarnato is happy with the choice he made and nothing would make him think otherwise.
"I love football," said Incarnato. "It's been my life since fourth grade. It's what I love and getting to play in one of the best conferences in the nation, getting that opportunity is a dream come true for anyone."
Incarnato Fitting In
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