BLOOMINGTON -- Shane Wynn has a football play-making secret.
Can you keep it?
“It's just not getting hit,” Indiana's junior receiver says. “That's all I can say. You look up the field and try to see everybody. You're running fast and playing fast. You're making people miss. If you make people miss, you run fast and score touchdowns.”
That sounds easy. It's not, of course, which is what makes Wynn's potential all the more obvious.
“He's a quick guy and we want to get the ball to him in space,” quarterback Cam Coffman says. “Once we do, he does it from there. He makes people miss. He's fast. He makes plays.”
Wynn made lots of plays in Saturday's annual Cream 'n Crimson spring game. He made plays last season as a receiver. The year before that, he made plays as a kick returner. Before that, it was as an Ohio all-state high school standout.
“Shane has been good,” coach Kevin Wilson says. “He's a dynamic player. He was second in the league in (receptions) last season (with 68) and we don't think he's had a good year yet. He has to keep coming. He's one of my favorite kids on the team. He loves to play.”
Wynn is a burst of light-up-a-room energy and at this moment, he's energizing the biggest room at Indiana's Memorial Stadium -- its state-of-the-art strength training facility -- in analyzing his spring-game performance .
“Coach tried to get me the ball early,” he says. “I try to make plays. Everybody did their job, and I did mine, which was score.”
Wynn had a touchdown three minutes into the game -- a 22-yard, tackle-busting effort that showcased his speed, elusiveness and toughness. Near the end of the game he added a leaping, 16-yard TD catch. He finished with game-high totals in catches (six), receiving yards (97) and those two touchdowns in the Cream's 21-7 win over the Crimson.
“Shane Wynn is playing as fast as he ever has,” quarterbacks/receivers coach Kevin Johns says.
Wynn is 5-7 and 167 pounds. You don't play Big Ten football at that weight. You might play soccer or lacrosse or baseball; you might run track (Wynn did and won a pair of Ohio high school state titles in the 400 meter relay and the 800 meter relay); heck, you might even wrestle.
Play football at that weight and you run the risk of getting squashed, or worse, by big, powerful defensive guys. But for that to happen, they have to catch you. Wynn makes that very hard to do, and when it does happen, it's still hard.
“Especially being little, you try to do things they don't think you're going to do,” he says. “You use your hands and try not to get touched going through holes. That's all.”
Wynn is a slot receiver, which means he catches a lot of balls in traffic and in close range. In other words, he takes some shots.
“The spring has been physical,” he says. “I've been getting hit a lot, I can tell you that.”
Wynn can take it. As a true freshman, he led IU with 1,249 all-purpose yards, including 1,015 yards as a kick returner. Last year he became the receiver the Hoosiers went to when clutch receiving yards were needed. He had 68 catches (the fourth most in a season in school history) for 660 yards and six touchdowns.
Wynn is part of a talented group of slot receivers that also includes Isaiah Roundtree and Rick Jones
“They've all done good things,” offensive coordinator Seth Littrell says. “We're trying to find different ways to get them the ball. We'll move them around a little bit. Next fall you'll see some different tweaks with those guys.”
Tweaks were minimal on Saturday. IU went to a bland approach on offense and defense to prevent opponents from getting an early jump on Hoosier tendencies.
“We played vanilla on both sides of the ball,” Wilson said. “We used standard blitzes, base fronts, standard plays. In Game 1 and Game 2 (Indiana State and Navy) we're the opening team, so we don't want to show anybody a lot. Those teams get a free scouting report (Saturday's game was televised by the Big Ten Network). We won't see Navy's or Indiana State's spring game. So there's a little coyness in the cards you play.”
The result was decent, but not great, numbers. Receiver Cody Latimer had four catches for 62 yards. Receiver Duwyce Wilson had four catches for 50 yards.
And then there was the quarterback battle, which is a three-man race now that Tre Roberson is back after last fall's broken leg. Roberson went 7-for-18 for 63 yards. Coffman was 17-for-23 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Nate Sudfeld was 14-for-16 for 187 yards and a touchdown.
The much maligned defense -- which was thin in the spring because of injuries on the defensive line and at linebacker -- settled down after a slow Saturday start.
“We came together as a team,” Wynn says. “Everybody bought in, which made us better. We're trusting each other.”
That's not a secret, it's a fact.