Bloomington, Ind. – When Indiana began recruiting Pete Saxon last season, they pitched the idea that the 6-4, 310-pounder could come to Bloomington and challenge for playing time from day one. What did the Plain City, Ohio, product think when he heard that?
Bloomington, Ind. – When Indiana began recruiting Pete Saxon last season, they pitched the idea that the 6-4, 310-pounder could come to Bloomington and challenge for playing time from day one.
What did the Plain City, Ohio, product think when he heard that?
“I kind of thought it was just a recruiting scheme,” Saxon said.
But once he arrived on campus over the summer and began preparing for his debut season, he realized it wasn’t just wishful thinking. Thanks to the graduation of both of IU’s starting guards from ’05, coupled with a dire shortage of capable offensive linemen on the roster, Saxon would in fact have a chance to challenge for immediate playing time.
With the season opener just 10 days away, indications are Saxon will see some time against Western Michigan. He’s already climbed to No. 2on the depth chart at left guard, where he’s backing up Kyle Thomas. He’s followed a very similar path to fellow freshman guard Cody Faulkner, who’s currently the team’s No. 2 left guard.
It’s been a rapid climb up the depth chart for a player from a hometown of less than 3,000, someone whose high school days were spent going up against players he towered over and outweighed by 50-75 pounds.
“It’s nice to know I have a chance to play, but at the same time it’s really stressful because we’re out there playing with guys who have been here for three years, they’ve been through three of these (fall) camps, and they know exactly what to expect,” Saxon said. “Coming into the camp, I had no idea what to expect. All Cody and I knew was we had to go out there and bust our butt.”
Saxon actually started doing that long before camp began. After graduating from high school in early June, Saxon moved to Bloomington June 19 to try to get a head start on his preparation for camp. That involved daily workout routines with the IU strength and conditioning program, including weight lifting and running on a regular basis.
Saxons said the 6 a.m. conditioning work took a little time to get used to, but it’s paying dividends now that he’s made it through fall camp with a spot on the Hoosiers’ two-deep.
“The workouts this summer were really intense,” Saxon said. “We get some workouts in during camp, but they are fast-paced, 15-minute workouts. In the summer it’s hard nosed, go heavy or go home.”
While a couple of the freshmen offensive linemen still have some ground to make up in the weight room before they’re ready to contribute on Saturdays, Saxon isn’t in that boat. Despite being only 18 years old, the staff thinks he’s physically ready to be a factor.
“Physically, I was lifting as much as the juniors and seniors,” Saxon said. “Physically I’m just as strong, and coach has told me I’m physically ready to play. But I have to get mentally ready to play as well. So I’m working on my plays and my reactions and making sure I’m picking everything up.”