BLOOMINGTON — Kenny Mullen has been through some rough patches during his first three seasons as a Hoosier. After the team finished with a 1-11 record his freshman year, Mullen has been a key part of Kevin Wilson’s rebuilding project, helping Indiana win four games as a sophomore and five games last fall.
As he enters his final season, the former Bishop Luers standout cornerback plans to help the program make major strides toward becoming a top-tier team in the Big Ten.
“My personal goal is a team goal,” Mullen said.
“I just want to get to a bowl and leave a legacy amongst these young guys that they can carry on. Keep building up the defense, keep building up this program so in years to come, Indiana football is the top of the Big Ten, top of the nation,” he added.
The Hoosiers have not played in a bowl game since 2007, and the chances of that changing this season heavily depend on how much the defense is able to improve. With new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr installing a 3-4 defense and a strong recruiting class arriving, Mullen is excited about how they are looking so far in practice.
“Honestly, this is the best I’ve seen our defense play. The talent level, the depth, the competition is at an all-time high, and everybody’s eager to make the play,” he said.
After practice on Tuesday, Wilson said that while he would like to see them play faster and more physical, the defense has looked much improved during preseason camp.
“They’re playing better (than they have) in my time here. I like a lot of things they’re doing. I think they’re making it very challenging for our offensive line, and I think they’re front is very good.”
Optimism about the defense is high inside Memorial Stadium, but the Hoosiers will have to show fans that they really have improved once the season begins Aug. 30.
The Indiana faithful watched their team give up a Big Ten-record 560.2 yards per game in conference play last season, while giving up an average of 38.8 points per game.
Mullen knows people are watching and feels that he and his defensive teammates are ready for the challenge.
“Knowing that our back is against the wall and it’s us against the world, that’s all we really need. … We don’t care what anybody has to say about the past,” he said. “What we’re worried about is now and what we see out at practice and what we see in those meeting rooms and watching film. It’s a lot of motivation to prove a lot of people wrong and people have their opinion about us, but we’re just ready to go show the world what IU football is about.”