CHICAGO – Indiana receiver Kofi Hughes is one of the leaders of his team.
Hes also competing for a starting job.
Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder from Indianapolis Cathedral, might be the Hoosiers most vocal leader. But as part of one of the deepest receiver groups in recent seasons, he knows there are no guarantees for playing time.
I know that our team is confident in what were doing right now and how were practicing, said Hughes, who was third on the team with 639 receiving yards last season. The competition at our practices is so much higher than its ever been. You look around and you say, OK. Weve got a squad.
Thats a positive for Hughes, who joins Cody Latimer and Shane Wynn as a starter on the IU depth chart at receiver.
Isaiah Roundtree, Nick Stoner, Duwyce Wilson and Ricky Jones will also be used.
Hes in a competitive situation, so hes leading in a different way because hes also fighting to be on the field, IU coach Kevin Wilson said of Hughes. Hes embraced our values, and he has a strong voice on our teams.
The depth Hughes spoke to runs across many positions on offense.
Hughes said he wont be nervous when he comes out of games like he was last season. The senior can trust his teammates to get the job done when he needs a rest.
Nick Stoner or Duwyce easily could be starting, Hughes said. I think they could start on any team in the Big Ten. Zeke Roundtree, Ricky Jones, those are names that a lot of people dont know yet because our depth is so deep. These guys could be performing just as well.
You look around, and you just know that everyones got your back. Theres no question about, OK, if I go out the game, are we going to be all right?
The receivers arent the only ones who do not need to worry about replacements.
(Running back) Stephen Houston, who is just a freak athlete, freak in the weight room, freak on the field – if he needs a rest, then weve got Tevin Coleman, Hughes said. And weve got All-Americans on our line. We got great freshmen.
And Hughes has one shot left. This will be his final season in Bloomington and, if words mean anything, his most successful. Each season has been an overhaul for him and the rest of the Hoosiers.
The senior said he hopes all this competition and depth lead to wins – whether hes on the field for 80 snaps or not.
Our first year (with Wilson), we thought we were working hard, and we only won one game, Hughes said. Then we thought we were working hard again, and we only won four games.
I think now, once again, we made a lot of changes, but just the whole mentality and attitude of the team – weve never had so much competition.