Bloomington – Bill Lynch has already said one freshman is expected to play this year, but another could also be contender for playing time.
Last week, IU's coach said freshman defensive tackle Adam Replogle wouldn't redshirt and would instead be a contributor right away. Those are the same words that cornerback Lawrence Barnett hopes he'll eventually hear about himself as well.
The 5'10" cornerback from Ft. Wayne has spent a good portion of fall camp working in with the No. 2s and on a couple of occasions injuries have given him a chance to work with the No. 1 unit. With less than two weeks remaining before the season opener against Eastern Kentucky, Barnett is hoping he can do enough to show he's worthy of a chance to play right away.
"If I get a chance to play, it's up to Coach (Joe) Palcic and I'll be grateful and take full advantage of it," Barnett said. "If not, then I'll continue to work hard and learn from the older corners."
The idea that Barnett would even be considered for playing time shows how far the Bishop Luers graduate has come in the last 12 months. In his high school season opener last season, Barnett broke he ankle and was lost for the season, setting him up for a long period of rehab.
Barnett initially had some fears about whether IU would honor it's scholarship offer, but Lynch's staff quickly erased those fears and assured him they wanted him this fall. Since then he's continued to rehab and is back to full strength, both mentally and physically.
"I probably felt I was back to 100 percent back during basketball season," said Barnett, whose Luers' basketball team won its second straight state title in March. "The first couple of games back I was timid on it, but halfway through the season I started scoring more, running a little harder, jumping more off it."
That's carried over to the football field, where Barnett has been making his share of playing during both individual one-on-one drills as well as during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions. He's a physical corner who is getting used to playing against wideouts who are bigger and faster than what he was used to in high school.
"It's a lot faster pace here," Barnett said. "I'm not as quick as I used to be, but I'm starting to get that back. I'm out here trying to get used to playing against Big Ten players, and they're bigger than they are in high school."
Barnett said his focus is now just on trying to get a little bit better each day, and if he does that the playing time will take care of itself. He admits that's a different approach from what he had when he first arrived at camp 2 ½ weeks ago.
"The first couple of days I think I was thinking about playing too much," Barnett said. "That's why I wasn't doing as well as I know I can do. Lately, I haven't been doing that as much – I'm just thinking about playing ball, and I've been taking strides and doing a lot better."
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