Bloomington – Indiana might want to consider adding about five pounds to Pete Saxon's listed weight of 310 pounds.
After all, that's about how much tape the Plain City, Ohio, product appears to have wrapped around his ankle as he bounces back from an injury earlier in fall camp. But after a couple of days on the sidelines and a nervous moment or two for the coaching staff, the Hoosiers' projected starting left guard was back in pads Wednesday and hopeful that he'd be back doing team reps Thursday.
After missing all of spring practice following shoulder surgery and now a couple of days of fall camp with the ankle, Saxon is anxious to get back. But he's also heeding the advice of the coaching staff that doesn't want him to risk his availability for the Aug. 30 season opener by coming back too soon.
"I'm being smart, like coach told me," Saxon said. "They told me that I know what I'm doing out there, so to get back when I can. Don't be a hero."
Whether it's Thursday or not, Saxon's full return is just hours or perhaps days away. That's a comfort to both Saxon and the IU staff, that wasn't entirely sure how serious the ankle injury was when it first happened late last week during team reps.
"When it first happened I didn't know how serious it was because I had (6-7, 300-pound) Alex Perry, (6-1, 235-pound Will Patterson) and (6-5, 315-pound) Cody Faulkner all on my back leg," Saxon said. "That's a lot of weight, even for these huge cankles."
But Saxon said he quickly realized the injury wouldn't keep him out an extended amount of time. He was able to walk under his own power minutes later, and when fellow offensive lineman Mike Reiter went down with a knee injury later that same day, he was able to help carry him off the field and into the locker room.
The following day Saxon ran into IU Coach Bill Lynch who asked if he had his ankle x-rayed, but he said there was no need to have the medical staff go to the trouble.
"I knew I didn't need to have that done – it wasn't hurt that bad," Saxon said.
Saxon's return to the lineup will be a welcome sight for IU offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, who has been missing Saxon as well as starting left tackle Rodger Saffold (back) since late last week. Both are two-year starters who worked their way into the lineup as true freshmen two seasons ago, and now they're the backbone of the Hoosiers' front five.
That's an added responsibility for the 20-year-old Saxon, who started all 13 games last season and was a third-team All-Big Ten selection by Athlon.
"It's a lot different being the veterans," Saxon said. "Coach (Johnson) will pull me and Rodger aside and yell at us for the things the younger guys are doing wrong. It's our responsibility to make sure they're picking things up."
Saxon can still vividly remember when the roles were reversed. Two seasons ago, he remembers playing at Ohio State and lining up next to then-fifth-year senior Justin Frye. He remembers making a pretty big mistake and how Frye responded.
"I go to the wrong way and just smash him, and he has to keep his cool and not yell at me because I'm one of the young guys," Saxon said. "Now it's my turn to do that for the young guys."
Weight Lifted: Saxon's Return a Welcome Sight
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