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Indiana University

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Indiana senior receiver Kofi Hughes says the competition for playing time will make the Hoosiers a better team.

IU receiver welcomes depth at his position

– Indiana receiver Kofi Hughes is one of the leaders of his team.

He’s 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 we’re doing right now and how we’re 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 it’s ever been. You look around and you say, ‘OK. We’ve got a squad.’ ”

That’s 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.

“He’s in a competitive situation, so he’s leading in a different way because he’s also fighting to be on the field,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said of Hughes. “He’s 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 won’t 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 don’t know yet because our depth is so deep. These guys could be performing just as well.

“You look around, and you just know that everyone’s got your back. There’s no question about, ‘OK, if I go out the game, are we going to be all right?’ ”

The receivers aren’t 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 we’ve got Tevin Coleman,” Hughes said. “And we’ve 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 he’s 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 – we’ve never had so much competition.”

smorrison@jg.net

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