Indiana Daily Student

Co-captain ready to win

Football looks to senior receiver for leadership

For four years Versie Gaddis has heard the critics. \nThey said he wouldn't rebound from an injury and that he had hands of stone. During the same time span, he has been there when the Hoosiers couldn't get the win at the end of the game. \nWith all of those negative experiences fueling Gaddis, the fifth-year senior is ready to lead IU football back to a bowl game for the first time since 1993.\nLast season saw Gaddis, a 5-10, 190-pound wide receiver, breakout for the best year of his career. Gaddis finished last fall with 35 receptions for 633 yards and three touchdowns. From the outset of the campaign, Gaddis was determined to make an impact, hauling in an 81-yard touchdown pass in the season opener against Ball State.\nGaddis's success last season surprised many. After showing some promise as a freshman under Bill Mallory, Gaddis had to sit out 1997 with a knee injury. In many ways, 1999 was the kind of season he desperately needed to prove to himself and to others that he could play.\n"It felt good to me to just finally get out there and let loose," Gaddis said. "I haven't felt like that since my freshman year. The year after I came back from my injury, it was still kind of in the back of my mind. (Last year) I felt so free. I just wanted to go out and help my team and that's what I did."\nDespite producing solid numbers, coach Cam Cameron criticized Gaddis and his fellow receivers for dropping some passes they needed to catch in critical situations. Gaddis takes the comments as constructive criticism.\n"There have been times where we have struggled," Gaddis said. "We appreciate (criticism). That tells us what we have to work on."\nGaddis was an integral part of the offense last year that averaged 405.9 yards and 26.5 points per game. Even though the Hoosiers offense was very prolific, Gaddis still sees room for improvement.\n"We're not satisfied with what we did last year, even though we put up big numbers at times," Gaddis said. "Hopefully we can improve on that."\nWhile the offense had a good year in 1999, the defense struggled mightily. Despite the fact the pressure seemed to consistently be on the offense to score large amounts of points, Gaddis said the offense holds no grudges.\n"We understand things like that happen, but we'll get it together," Gaddis said. "They want to get better and they want to improve and I think they will. We know the defense will take care of business."\nThe defense is aware of the pressure it put on the offense last season and is looking to improve upon that. \n"When your offense puts 30 points or more on the board a game and you're not winning, something's wrong," defensive end Paul Mandina said. "We're not going to let that happen again."\nThis season will see Gaddis serve as a co-captain on the team. From his leadership position, he wants to make sure his teammates expect to win games in the Big Ten, even though the skeptics might not think so.\n"I just want the underclassmen to understand that, even though in the past our records haven't shown that we are one of the toughest teams in the Big Ten, we can play ball," Gaddis said.\nAfter a second-consecutive 4-7 season, Gaddis represents a prevalent attitude of all Hoosier fans. Gaddis has had his fill of playing good teams well into the latter stages of the game only to see things fall apart.\n"It was very disappointing because my whole career it seems like we have been real close every year in those big games," Gaddis said.\nFrom his point of view, Gaddis thinks IU was lacking a killer instinct last season that prevented them from doing the things they wanted to do. Gaddis won't let that happen again.\n"We were more expecting it to happen and not really going out and forcing it to happen," Gaddis said. "This year we are going to go out and try to take what we want. We want to win games this year."\nBeyond just winning games, Gaddis expects the Hoosiers to win a lot of big games.\n"We can get some things done," Gaddis said. "But its not going to get handed to us. You have to go out and earn it. We have some great teams in the Big Ten and we can compete with them. We can win a championship"

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