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Indiana University

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Competition fierce at cornerback for Hoosiers

BLOOMINGTON – Richard Council stuck close to wide receiver Chris Banks early in Indiana’s scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

As quarterback Ben Chappell threw a pass in their direction, the sophomore broke on the ball, stepped in front of Banks and made an interception.

In a crowded competition for cornerback, it’s the type of play that gets a coach’s attention.

Council is fighting for a starting spot in Indiana’s new-look secondary. The Hoosiers must replace last year’s starters Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors.

Senior Chris Phillips is expected to fill one of the spots. The other is shaping up to be one of the better battles of the fall between Council, Donnell Jones, Chris Adkins and Adrian Burks.

“It’s been a real tight competition,” Council said. “It’s been a battle every day.”

IU coach Bill Lynch said no one has emerged yet.

“We have to all sit down and start narrowing it down. They have all played pretty good at times,” Lynch said. “Richard had a nice interception there. He’s played well. Donnell’s played well, Adkins has played well. It’s one of those situations where it’s not a problem. It’s pretty healthy. And we have a full week before we really get into game week (Aug. 30 against Western Kentucky).”

Burks and Council joined Phillips with the first-string Saturday. The coaching staff is using a rotation to make sure each player gets time with the first unit.

Co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Joe Palcic said each brings something different to the mix.

“All of them did a tremendous job in the offseason. I wanted some of them to gain some weight and get a little bit bigger,” he said. “They all did that. I told them, it looks like I got some Big Ten cornerbacks. I’ve got some big, tall guys. The arms are getting bigger.”

Palcic said Jones, a redshirt freshman, is the fastest of the group.

“Physically, he’s what you want, but he’s still learning how to play a little,” Palcic said.

Palcic also likes Adkins’ physical résumé. Adkins is also a redshirt freshman.

“Height (6-foot-1), weight (185 pounds) and speed. Perfect for what I look for,” he said.

Council didn’t see action last season, while Burks played in five games on special teams. He made five tackles. Both are sophomores. Palcic applauded Council’s growth and Burks’ quickness.

Council feels he’s improving with each practice.

“I’ve played very well. I’ve played to the best of my ability,” he said. “Doing what I know I can do best, which is fineness and cover well. I’m slacking on the tackling, but that will come with it.”

Phillips is the veteran. The senior played in all 12 games last year. He had three interceptions and forced three fumbles.

“You can’t coach experience,” Palcic said. “Chris Phillips has that experience. He’s seen different routes. He has experience. The other guys are gaining that experience.”

lpope@jg.net

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