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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Why Mike Katic, Jacob Mangum-Farrar returned to Indiana football — and like ‘no BS’ coaching


BLOOMINGTON — As Jacob Mangum-Farrar stood behind the microphone in Indiana football’s team room, the seventh-year senior’s crimson-colored T-shirt donned an unmistakable message. 

“Beat Purdue” was printed in white letters, splattered across Mangum-Farrar's chest — but last year, which was his first in Bloomington after five seasons at Stanford University, the Hoosiers didn’t complete that mission. 

The same sense of incompletion felt by that defeat correlates to Mangum-Farrar's college career — and this past winter, tasked with deciding between another year on campus versus pursuing professional football, he chose another run at fulfillment. 

“I feel like I still had a lot left in me,” Mangum-Farrar said Thursday. “I didn’t feel like I produced the amount that I could’ve last year, as well as being fresh for each game and being in a good place with my body to perform at the level I know I’m capable of.” 

Equipped with a fondness for Bloomington and feeling he had a good place on the team, Mangum-Farrar's decision to stay under new head coach Curt Cignetti didn’t take much convincing. 

Mangum-Farrar and Cignetti’s discussions centered around a position shift — moving to “stud,” essentially a boundary defensive end. Cignetti felt Mangum-Farrar's body type was better suited for playing on the line of scrimmage, as the Hoosiers’ new defense features smaller, faster linebackers. 

The 6-foot-4 Mangum-Farrar said he played at around 235 to 238 pounds last season but is now up to 255 pounds and plans to stay there. A fan of watching NFL highlights to glean details, he’s spent time studying eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller, learning how to use his speed and hands to attack blockers. 

Through the first week of spring practice, Mangum-Farrar has not only found joy in the disguises and creativity under new defensive coordinator Bryant Haines but also the way Cignetti and staff have structured each training session. 

“I just feel like they know how to work,” Magnum-Farrar said. “We're getting quality over quantity. We may not be in for eight reps at a time, but while we're out there, we're working. Some practices last year — and it was on the players — we didn't hold ourselves to a higher standard. I feel like now the coaching staff is holding us to that standard.” 

Sixth-year senior offensive lineman Mike Katic faced a similar offseason question, though to him, little thought was put into it. Katic planned on leaving Indiana after last season, entering his name into the 2024 NFL Draft on Nov. 28. 

But less than a month later, Katic announced he’d be returning to Bloomington. 

Cignetti retained offensive line coach Bob Bostad from the previous coaching, and Bostad called Katic with a pitch to play center. A phone call from Cignetti followed shortly thereafter. 

Katic was swayed by the development opportunities that exist under Bostad. There’s also an innate sense of familiarity stemming from his Pittsburgh roots — which are shared by Cignetti, offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Tino Sunseri. 

For Katic, who remains committed to pursuing an NFL career, reversing course was easy. 

“It felt like I should be making this decision,” Katic said. “Like I've known these guys my whole life — I haven’t obviously — but just having that Pittsburgh connection, we grew up in the same area, the same morals. They’re no-BS guys — get in, do your job and get out.” 

Katic participated in spring practice under head coach Tom Allen for each of the past five years, seeing both the heights and valleys of Allen’s tenure. He also saw extra periods of practice that he deemed unnecessary. 

Now working with Cignetti, Katic believes practice style — in a much more positive light —is the biggest change from the old staff to the new. 

“When you look at spring ball over my last six, the other previous ones were much longer, more tedious,” Katic said. “This year, it's kind of how Coach Cignetti runs his practices, like we're going to go in, do what we need to do and get out. Improving our technique and fundamentals and getting better every day.” 

Katic has started 37 games at Indiana. Mangum-Farrar, across his extensive collegiate career, has drawn 23 starts in 38 appearances. 

The veteran duo had a chance to leave — at one point, Katic did — but both stayed. And now, they’re seeing the path to brighter days start to form. 

“I feel like this coaching staff is doing a really good job of holding us accountable and not letting things slide,” Mangum-Farrar said. “Like, ‘Oh, we messed something up, next play.’ It’s like, ‘Nah, we’re going to re-do that until we get it right. You’re going to give 100% effort or we’re going to do it again.’” 

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MattPress23) and Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana football offseason. 

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