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Last updated: Mon. Aug. 11, 2014 - 09:57 pm EDT

'Special' Wynn goes beyond IU numbers

Senior receiver has difference-making speed

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BLOOMINGTON -- Shane Wynn has the numbers. He always has. He's produced from the moment he arrived at Indiana; he's done something no other Hoosier has ever done (we'll get to that); but now he must do more.

He must lead. He must guide and instruct. He must change to a new position (from slot to outside receiver) that, in most programs, goes to much bigger players.

But then, the 5-7, 167-pound Wynn plays big. If you remember nothing else, remember that.

“It's his speed and play-making ability,” offensive coordinator Kevin Johns says. “That's one thing I can never give a kid is speed. We can always get them bigger and stronger, but the good Lord has blessed him with some speed, and that's what makes him special.”

Wynn is special enough to have scored a touchdown receiving (17), rushing (1), punt returns (1) and kickoff returns (1). No other else in IU history has done that.

He has 1,490 career receiving yards, 133 catches, 1,610 return yards and 3,270 all-purpose yards. Last season he caught 46 passes for 633 yards and 11 touchdowns. The year before that, he caught 68 passes for 660 yards and six touchdowns. He has thrived under coach Kevin Wilson's offense-friendly system.

If he stays healthy and productive, Wynn will finish among the best receivers in school history. Former Elmhurst standout James Hardy's school record of 191 catches is within reach. Wynn is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, an award that goes to the nation's best receiver.

But those are just numbers. Wynn's real impact this season will come as a leader.

Yes, Johns said, he's ready.

“There's a different sense of urgency about him, a maturity I've never seen before. Shane has taken Coach Wilson's message straight into the locker room. He's demanding from his teammates. That's a great feeling to know you have the locker room behind the head coach.”

Wynn is a the guiding force for a young, talented receiving corp.

“Just making sure they're all in class and they have a positive attitude,” he said. “With a positive attitude, not too many things can go wrong. Everything isn't serious. You don't have to come in mad or with a chip on your shoulder. Just get ready to learn. You're definitely going to have a chance and a shot to play.”

That shot won't come with short cuts, he added.

“It's repetition and repetition. You treat practice like a game, do rep after rep, until it becomes natural.”

After three seasons thriving at slot receiver, Wynn has moved to the outside, a position last year was held by 6-3, 215-pound Cody Latimer and 6-2, 217-pound Kofi Hughes. They combined for 267 catches and 3,998 yards.

“It's quite a bit of adjustment for Shane,” Johns said, “because there are different rules and techniques. The cornerbacks are holding you. He's learning how to play, how to play with his hands. He's doing a tremendous job. The speed and play-making ability he brings is something we need out there.”

And if he is small at a big-man's position, he doesn't care.

“They had size, I have speed. I can do the same things, just in different ways.

“Now I have to run a lot of posts and curls. You don't do that inside.”

Wynn will be a catalyst for an offense that hopes to be better than last season, when it ranked among the nation's best by averaging 38.4 points.

“We can be as good as we work,” he said.

IU went 5-7 last season to just miss 6-6 bowl eligibility. There is optimism the Hoosiers will make a bowl this season, although a Big Ten media poll picked them sixth in the rugged conference East Division. In that, too, Wynn doesn't care.

“We don't pay attention to what's written on paper. Anybody can write that on paper. That's no substitute for helmets and shoulder pads.

“I can't make predictions. We'll take it game by game and see what happens.”

pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com


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