Bloomington, Ind. - Brian Faires has some special skills.
The evidence that we're talking about isn't on the football field, where Faires is a part of a defensive line rotation that has recorded 13 sacks in its first two games to lead the nation. What we're looking at is the side of senior defensive tackle Joe Kremer's head, where he arrived at fall camp last month with an adidas logo precisely shaved.
For a fifth-year senior who's had his share of old school Mohawks over the years, the adidas logo was easily the most advanced piece of artwork he's displayed and he has Faires to thank.
"It looked pretty good," Kremer said. "Everyone was asking me about it and where I had it done, and I told them, ‘Brian Faires.'"
Faires isn't quick to accept all the credit, since fellow fifth-year senior Charlie Emerson drew the logo on Kremer's head and he simply stayed inside the lines with his clippers.
"I started cutting hair when I was in high school,' said Faires. "A couple of buddies got a pair of clippers, and Joe thought it would be cool if I could do an adidas sign. It worked out well."
Faires' senior season, meanwhile, is going equally as well. The 6-4, 255-pounder has recorded a pair of tackles for loss in the first two games and has one of IU's NCAA-best 13 sacks. While he's listed as No. 2 on the depth chart at defensive end, he's one of eight defensive linemen seeing extensive action for co-Defensive Coordinator Brian George up front.
"Any time you get a chance to play, it's exciting, no matter what position you're at," Faires said. "Rushing the quarterback was a big emphasis this past spring and fall, so it's exciting."
Faires doesn't get ahead of himself, though, with the unit's newfound success. He knows that September success won't mean a whole lot if they don't keep it up once the games matter most in October and November.
"We thought we'd be better, but leading the nation really isn't a big deal to us," Faires said. "Leading the nation after the first two weeks and then not doing anything after that is pointless. So we want to keep the effort up and doing a great job."
Skills on the football field and with a set of cliipers aren't the only things that stand out about Faires. He also shown a great deal of resolve and perseverance since arriving in Bloomington in the fall of 2003. At the time he was a highly-coveted tight end from Indianapolis' Ben Davis H.S. He quickly made an impression, working with the second unit as a true freshman during fall camp.
He thought big things were coming, and soon.
"I was like, ‘this is awesome,'" Faires said. "I'm going to play as a true freshman. Then it didn't work out."
Not only did it not work out in terms of playing time in 2003, his time at tight end was short lived. He was moved from tight end to defensive end during his redshirt season. After seeing spot duty at end in 2004, he switched positions again, bouncing around from defensive end to linebacker and then back to tight end.
All the while, Faires' playing time was minimal.
"It was real tough on me," Faires said. "Coming out of high school I thought I was a pretty good player, and then coming here and bouncing around and not seeing much of the field, I was pretty frustrated."
Eventually, George wanted to take another look at him at defensive end. He enjoyed some success there a year ago – including a two-sack performance in IU's season-opening win against Western Michigan – before injuries limited him down the stretch. Now, he's back to full strength and an invaluable part of the Hoosiers' rotation up front.
"It's a real help being able to rotate guys," Faires said. "It's tough for offensive linemen to play 70 plays and see three different guys because we all have fresh legs."
Faires not only has fresh legs, but a fresh perspective on what his role is on the team.
"I was never too concerned about size (at defensive end) because I think I've got decent speed off the edge," Faires said. "My biggest concern was this has happened before, the last time they switched me again. So who knows if this is for real. I was more worried about me not getting an opportunity.
"But I stuck it out, I did everything I needed to do for my senior year to play, and now I'm getting that chance."
Faires Looking To Leave His Mark
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