Indiana Daily Student

IU football’s freshmen adjust to college with help from upperclassmen

<p>IU freshman wide receiver Jordyn Williams during practice March 23 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Williams attended Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas.  </p>

IU freshman wide receiver Jordyn Williams during practice March 23 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Williams attended Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas.

IU football’s freshman class has arrived in Bloomington, and the team’s new additions are beginning to get adjusted to a new team, new place and new level of football.

One of IU’s additions in its 2021 recruiting class was wide receiver Jordyn Williams, a four-star prospect on the ESPN rankings and a three-star prospect on the 247Sports Composite rankings from Cedar Hill, Texas.

In high school, Williams’ offensive coordinator was NFL Hall of Fame inductee and current Jackson State University head coach Deion Sanders. Williams once caught 10 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown in a nationally-televised game on ESPN. 

He was offered scholarships by 17 schools, including the University of Mississippi, University of Tennessee and the reigning national champions University of Alabama, before committing to play at IU in May 2020.

Williams said he has learned from experienced receivers, including graduate students Ty Fryfogle and Camron Buckley, about adjusting to the college game.

“They all took me under their wings to show me the ropes and show me the ways of how to be one of those Big Ten receivers, how to make big plays and how to determine what route you want to go down,'' Williams said. “They all just showed a lot and showed a helping hand. I just really appreciate them for that.”

Offensive tackle Joshua Sales Jr., ranked the fifth best recruit in the state of Indiana by 247Sports, has also learned from older offensive linemen, including redshirt freshman Kahlil Benson, junior Matthew Bedford and redshirt senior Caleb Jones.

Sales said that he has learned how to be a better offensive lineman from talking and studying film with his more experienced peers, particularly Bedford.

“Bedford, he’s been here, going on his third year,” Sales said. “I just see the things he did his freshman year. He was very physical, he wasn’t afraid to hit anybody. Just small bits and pieces like that, just seeing what they did to get them on the field and how I can apply that to myself.”

Offensive lineman Vinny Fiacable is following in the footsteps of some of his family members by joining the IU football team. Fiacable’s father, Steve Fiacable, was an offensive lineman at IU from 1988 through 1991, and his brothers, offensive lineman Steve Fiacable and quarterback Mike Fiacable, played for the team from 2009 through 2010 and 2015 through 2018.

Now a player on the team he grew up cheering for, Fiacable said he is embracing the opportunity to be a part of the Fiacable family’s IU football tradition. 

“The first month or so, I still couldn’t believe that I was really here. It was just a real surreal moment,” Fiacable said. “Especially when I first put the pads on in the first day of spring ball, it was just like, ‘I’m really doing this.’ Just kind of crazy to me.”

Despite being so closely tied to the program, Fiacable said that there has still been some adjustment to IU from high school.

“It was a big adjustment from Fort Wayne to Bloomington, just a new setting,” Fiacable said. “It’s college football now, it’s not high school anymore. And getting to know the guys at first was tough, because you just go into a new environment.”

Perhaps no newcomer has had to make a bigger adjustment than punter James Evans.

Prior to moving to Bloomington in January, Evans had never been to America, and has not played a game of American Football, growing up a rugby player in New Zealand. He moved to Melbourne, Australia, to learn how to punt at Prokick Australia. Haydon Whitehead, IU’s punter from 2017-2020, is also a Prokick alum. 

Evans said that Whitehead, despite no longer being on the team, has helped him get accustomed to IU and American football.

“Since I’ve been here, he’s been really helpful to me,” Evans said. We’ve kicked balls together a few times, and in those sessions, he gave me a lot of advice, everything from on the field to off the field. Handling coaches, handling teammates, handling pressure, all that kind of stuff.”

After almost six months of adjusting to everything from climate and language to the rules of American Football, Evans said that Indiana is starting to feel like home.

“There’s a slight language barrier at times, like you’ll say words and people will be like ‘Man, what are you saying?,’” Evans said. “More or less at this point, being here for about six months now, I’m pretty much fully acclimated and this is pretty much home now.”

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