Bloomington – Kellen Lewis was declared the winner of IU's most high-profile position battle Tuesday, but it was Chris Adkins who won the most hotly-contested struggle for a starting spot.
The 6'1", 185-pound redshirt freshmen from Indianapolis' Warren Central H.S. received word from co-Defensive Coordinator Joe Palcic that he was the choice to start Saturday against Western Kentucky. The decision brings to an end a battle that's been underway ever since the close of the '07 season when last year's starters Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors graduated.
"The last three weeks have been like the summer – I've been down here trying to work and trying for the spot," Adkins said Tuesday. "I'm pretty excited."
Adkins also feels well prepared. While he'll likely be the lone redshirt freshman to start on either side of the ball for IU this weekend, he spent 15 spring practices and three weeks of fall camp engaged in a tug-of-war for the job with Donnell Jones, Richard Council and Adrian Burks. With so much riding on each of every practice rep, Adkins doesn't expect to be wide-eyed when he lines up against the Hilltoppers.
"Just having the position shows I'm ready," Adkins said. "We have had a lot of competition and if I can overcome that, then I have to be good. I'm just anxious to play and show my teammates I can play."
The first person he had to convince of that was Palcic, and he's accomplished that feat with his play throughout spring practice and fall camp. While Adkins combines excellent size and speed, it was his consistency that ultimately won over the Hoosiers' cornerbacks coach.
Now, he'll have a chance to team up with the Hoosiers' other starting cornerback, senior Chris Phillips, and prove that the loss of Porter and Majors won't setback the defense. While their experience will be missed, the more physical approach of Phillips and Adkins will be welcomed by Palcic.
"Adkins and Phillips, those guys are bigger, strong, physical players that will look for contact," Palcic said.
While that's an added dimension that Adkins can bring the field this weekend, he's hoping to bring some things that he learned from last year's starters as well. He said he picked up a few tips from Porter that have helped him with his press coverage, and he's also looking to bring the same sort of approach Porter had when he took the field.
"Like Tracy, I want to have that swagger, that confidence to just go out and make plays," Adkins said.
He might be the youngest player in the starting lineup this weekend, but Adkins said he knows he still need that swagger to excel at a position where the slightest of mistakes can result in a big play for the opponent.
"You have to have that swagger to play the position," Adkins said. "You also have to keep in mind at the end of the day it's just a game and you have to play like it's a game and know what you can do."
Consistency Earns Adkins Starting Nod
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