When Cody Faulkner was competing at the Max Emfinger All-America Bowl in Shreveport, La., earlier this month, the IU-bound offensive lineman had four people waiting, and another one watching.
The four people waiting were college coaches from some college football powerhouses. After witnessing the 6-5, 305-pound lineman from Hamilton Heights (Ind.) H.S. grade out 100 percent on his blocking assignments and not surrender a sack in the All-Star game that was loaded with Division I prospects, coaches from LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas wanted to talk to Faulkner to find out just how solid his commitment was to IU and Coach Terry Hoeppner.
"They wanted to just talk to me and possibly offer if I never changed my mind," said Faulkner.
Faulkner admits that he was flattered at the attention and excited about his performance, but tempted by the potential offers? Not in the least.
"It was exciting to know that they were interested in me, but I'm true to IU," said Faulkner. "That's where I'm going to school, and I'm going to play for Coach Hep. No one is going to change my mind with that."
While those four coaches certainly became fans of Faulkner and his play after his effort in the all-star game, his biggest fan was actually someone else – an area youth named Robert.
During the week's activities, Faulkner was one of 24 players selected to visit the nearby Shriners Children's Hospital. During the visit, Faulkner developed a relationship with Robert, an area youth who he had been paired up with. Faulkner admits that Robert was a bit intimidated by him when he first arrived.
"It was a little weird at first because he's a real small guy, and I'm enormous compared to him," said Faulkner.
Eventually, Robert took a liking to Faulkner. The Arcadia, Ind., native spent time playing with Robert and a specially-designed tricycle, toted him around the hospital and gave him a medallion that matched the one Faulkner had received for being invited to the 125-player All-Star game.
"I gave him my medallion, and he was checking out all the others to make sure he got the coolest one," said Faulkner.
Before Faulkner and his All-Star teammates departed for that evening's game, they had the children write their names on the back of their respective players' arms so that they could recognize them when they watched the locally-televised game that evening.
While the opportunity to spend time with Faulkner certainly meant a great deal to Robert, it was equally rewarding to Faulkner to be able to have that sort of impact on the children.
"I think it means a lot to me personally because you can make an impact on that child's life that might encourage him to keep fighting despite their illnesses," said Faulkner. "If anything, it just brightens their day for a little bit, and that's fun to see."
Faulkner figures to brighten the day of Hoeppner and IU fans alike when he arrives on campus next fall. A first-team All-State choice this past fall, he's one of seven offensive linemen who inked with the Hoosiers Wednesday. While it's a stretch for a true freshman to be physically ready to compete at the Division I level and more specifically in the Bi g Ten, Faulkner is considered a potential contributor immediately.
If that opportunity presents itself Faulkner admits he'd be excited, but he knows it's far from a certainty.
"I would certainly love it - I would love and be able to come in and play a little bit," said Faulkner. "But the coaches there, Coach (Bobby) Johnson, Coach (Billy) Lynch and Coach Hep, they've all said if I'm ready to play I'll play, but they're not going to throw me to the wolves.
"I'm just going to lift and run and do the best that I can, bust it out, and whatever happens, happens."
SIGNING DAY 2006 - Cody Faulkner
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