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Talented receiving corps could change Hoosiers' fortunes in '13

BY RYAN PROBASCO | AUGUST 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson envisioned a much more successful start to his tenure than the 5-19 record the Hoosiers posted in his first two seasons at the helm. But with 19 returning starters and possibly the most talented receiving corps in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers are poised to become a competitive team in 2013.

“Thought we had a really good winter,” Wilson said at Big Ten media day on July 24 in Chicago. “Everybody always says that, but just the energy, leadership. We’ve worked very hard with the group to kind of cultivate some internal leaders with our football team to take some ownership.”

The Hoosiers return three receivers who recorded at least 40 catches and 630 yards in 2012. Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes and Shane Wynn combined for 15 receiving touchdowns last year, and all three also had a catch of at least 70 yards.

Senior safety Greg Heban has a firsthand experience his teammates’ playmaking ability in practice every day. And the former walk-on showed no hesitation in labeling the group as the most talented in the conference.

“I go against them every day, and they have four or five of the best receivers in the Big Ten,” Heban told The Daily Iowan on July 25 at Big Ten media day. “It definitely makes us a better secondary and a better defense going against guys like Kofi, Cody Latimer, and Shane Wynn.”

Heban received second team All-Big Ten recognition in 2012, and the Hoosiers will count on him to anchor the secondary again this season. But if the team is to compete like it hopes to, it will have to be better than the 104th-ranked defense in points allowed per game, as was the case a season ago.

“I think some of those young D-linemen are going to give us competition and depth,” Wilson said during Big Ten media day. “And I think the linebackers, which we need to be significantly better at linebacker, are going to give us some competition, and I’m really excited about the corner and safety guys.”

The Hoosiers do not lack confidence in their abilities heading into the upcoming season. And with an experienced squad, opponents would be wise to view a matchup with Indiana with as much seriousness as any other Big Ten foe.

Having lost four games by fewer than 4 points in 2012, the Hoosiers believed they would have fared much better than their 4-8 record if more luck had been on their side.

“Coming out of last year, not the season we wanted,” Wilson said. “Maybe made some strides on paper. Maybe a little bit better record. But we got a great school, and we want to build a winning product and start getting the victories that we need.”

Despite the lack of tangible team success during his time at Indiana, Hughes doesn’t believe Indiana’s potential has a true ceiling. In fact, the senior believes his team’s season could conclude in Pasadena, Calif.

“I think it could be as big as the Rose Bowl,” the senior said at Big Ten media days. “I think the possibilities are endless … We are so much better than last year.”


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