Indiana Daily Student

IU cornerback working to become a shutdown corner

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Rashard Fant wants the ball thrown his way.

Practice drills. Scrimmages. Games. It doesn’t matter. The rising sophomore cornerback wants to be tested. He said it’s good for him.

Fant’s going to get his chances in 2015. With both starters from last season graduated, Fant is likely to take one of the starting spots at cornerback. But that’s not quite good enough.

The NFL features 64 starting cornerbacks on any given week. Fant wants to be one of them one day.

That means becoming an elite cornerback in the Big Ten. It means being the best corner on the field for IU.

So in between plays, he reminds himself of what he wants to be.

“You’re the best corner on the field, the best corner on the field. Be the lockdown corner on that side.”

“This season, I know that’s what I have to do if I want to accomplish my dreams of going to the NFL in a couple years,” Fant said.

Right now, Fant’s still working on developing into the cornerback he envisions himself being three, four years down the line.

Fant came to IU undersized, weighing about 155 pounds. After two years in Bloomington, he’s gotten his weight up to 175 pounds and is still working to add more with a diet of smoothies and the occasional trip to ?McDonald’s.

“(Chad) Ochocinco loves it,” Fant says when McDonald’s is brought up. “So if he can do it, why not?”

Favorite fast food chains aside, Fant spent his offseason focused on adding muscle and making the weight IU Cornerback’s Coach Brandon Shelby needed of him.

Keeping weight has always been difficult for Fant. Throughout his life, he’s naturally been light. He’s been able to eat the food he wants without gaining weight.

He’s had to make strategic efforts to put on pounds. Shelby said he’s seeing the results at spring practice. His natural speed, quick hips and football IQ are becoming complimented by a more typical frame.

The key now is keeping the weight on.

“For him to be an affective Big Ten player, he knew he had to be in that 175 (pound) range,” Shelby said.

Fant’s at a point now where he’s confident enough to start taking risks on the playing field.

Last year, he wasn’t always willing to risk big plays because that meant taking the risks of giving up ?completions.

Making the play means risking mistakes. Going after an interception means leaving coverage to jump a route.

Guess right and Fant ends up with a pick. Guess wrong and it’s a completion.

“I think it’s really tough,” Fant said. “Being younger, you really didn’t want to make a mistake.”

Now that Tim Bennett and Michael Hunter are gone, he said it’s his chance to take those chances.

Fant got one of those picks in practice last week off senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld. A few plays later, he hesitated and allowed junior Ricky Jones to come up with a catch on a slant.

The hesitation cost him. It’s the type of mistake he’s looking to limit next season and in the future as he tries to develop into the shutdown corner he wants to be.

“(I’m) more confident overall in the field knowing that I’m the shutdown corner, no matter what anyone else believes out there,” Fant said. “I come in here in practice, they see me in scrimmages and they don’t really throw my way. That’s a good thing.”

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