Bloomington, Ind. – Brian Faires was not only feeling passed around, but a little passed over as well.
Before the start of spring practice, the 6-3, 257-pound junior received word from the IU coaching staff he'd be making the move from tight end to defensive end. Position changes were nothing new to Faires, who came to IU as a tight end, but had spent time at linebacker and defensive end as well during his first three seasons on the Bloomington campus.
"I thought I was a tight end guy, and I came here as a tight end," Faires said. "I really wanted to see what I could do at tight end before I left college."
That opportunity never arose. With Matt O'Neal and Nick Sexton ahead of him on the depth chart, the Hoosier coaching staff wanted to move Faires back to defensive end, a position where there were some holes to fill thanks to the graduation of Ben Ishola and Victor Adeyanju in the spring.
But for a player who hadn't spent more than one consecutive season at the same position, another move wasn't what he was hoping for.
"When they told me this last time I was moving to defensive end, I really got frustrated," Faires said. "I was starting to think, ‘is this for me? What should I do?' But I knew I had to go with it and do my best."
That approach has paid off for Faires, who has climbed to the top of the Hoosiers' depth chart at left end. He made his starting debut against Western Michigan, totaling three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks to key a strong IU defensive effort.
"When I got on the field, I was really nervous," Faires said. "First game, first time starting, first game really since high school. But after that first sack, it really came back to me and I felt comfortable."
Faires' play during fall camp, meanwhile, helped make one of the biggest developments during fall camp possible. Two weeks before the opener, IU moved Charlie Emerson from left defensive end to right offensive tackle, a move that freed up Faires to move into the starting lineup.
For a player who had been battling for nearly four years to make a contribution, it was the chance Faires had been waiting for.
"It was my opportunity, my time to step up," Faires said. "Once (Emerson) moved, I got really excited, and (defensive line) coach (Brian George) said it's up to you and Keith Burrus."
Burrus has since moved to the three technique position, leaving Faires with a firm hold on the No. 1 job.
"It feels great – I really feel a part of the team," Faires said. "The last couple of years I was really frustrated, not getting the playing time that I wanted. But the coaches how have confidence in me to get the job done."
Faires Making Most Of Opportunity
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