Crunch time has officially arrived for redshirt freshmen vying to start for Indiana’s football team this season.
Drew Conrad lives by a simple saying when it comes to those pressure situations.
“You don’t rise to the occasion,” the former Center Grove player said. “You fall back on your habits.”
Conrad hopes his habits can win him a pair of starting roles for the Hoosiers this coming fall.
He is one of three punters on the Hoosiers’ roster, alongside redshirt junior Joseph Gedeon and redshirt sophomore Haydon Whitehead, the latter a native of Melbourne, Australia.
Conrad wants to beat out backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey and become IU’s holder for field goals and PATs.
“I’m really passionate about punting and about holding,” said Conrad, who filled both roles during the Trojans’ run to the Class 6A state title in 2015. “In spring ball, (punting) was pretty even between me and Haydon. They showed me my averages from the spring game. It was something like 51.7 (yards), but there was no (defensive) rush.
“Punting is very streaky. The starting punter will be whoever is doing the best in August.”
Conrad thoroughly enjoys the process of improving his punting. This goes beyond average yardage, which is why he’s enthusiastic about putting in the work so many other punters might deem tedious.
Gedeon, a Columbus North graduate who missed spring workouts and the spring game after undergoing back surgery (he’s since returned), recently loaned Conrad his nine-page offseason training guide.
The guide includes timing drills, pointers for catching center snaps and proper technique on both one- and two-step drops.
Conrad arrived on campus June 1 and began preseason workouts four days later. This week, he started taking two summer classes.
By mid-August, he will have a better idea of where he sits on Indiana’s special teams depth chart — and he’s hopeful that living by his motto will have him in a good spot.