BLOOMINGTON -- OK, so Indiana's Adam Replogle has no future as a standup comedian. It happens. There are worse fates.
“He tries to be funny, but he's not,” teammate Larry Black says with a big smile. “He tells a joke, but there's no substance to it.”
Replogle isn't here to joke. He's a quiet guy with a serious football game. As a senior, he's playing as if he's the Big Ten's best defensive tackle. He and Black are tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (9.0) among defensive tackles.
Replogle leads as well as any Hoosier, but cameras and tape records strip away the edge. The next time he says something controversial will be the first. He is the master of the short quote that reveals, well, little.
Ask him about having his best year and he says, “You see me carry over on the field from practice a lot more than I did before.”
Ask about IU's bowl prospects entering Saturday's Leaders Division showdown with Wisconsin and he says, “We have a lot more to do. It all starts Saturday. That's what we're concentrating on.”
Ask him about the motivation that comes from Wisconsin having crushed IU 59-7 and 83-20 the last two seasons and he says, “This is a new (Indiana) team. They have a new team. We want to get better every day. That's what you see.”
For insight we turned to Black, who has played next to Replogle for four years. Black is asked about his ability, and that of Replogle and fellow senior defensive tackle Nick Sliger, to relate to their teammates.
“We relate to all the different people on the team,” Black says. “Adam relates to the nerds and the geeks.”
Black smiles again. We ask for his best Replogle story. After a moment, he delivers a scene like something from a Will Farrell movie.
“During (August) camp the dude was such a maniac. We had a scrimmage and just after the play, he made the tackle, I don't think it was full go, like wrap up, he was like standing above the play, just dancing. It was straight out of his character. He was double ripping it. Like jumping around. I've never see him do something like that.”
Replogle was an anchor in the transition from former coach Bill Lynch to Kevin Wilson. A lot of veteran players left. Replogle stayed, thrived and, at least with his teammates, talked.
Coach Kevin Wilson says Replogle is, “The one guy, when he talks, I think everyone on the team listens. He buys in and gets what we're trying to do more than anyone else. He's all in. He took the hook, line, sinker, the pole, everything.”
For Replogle, buying in was a no-brainer.
“They had tremendous coaching experience. They're awesome guys, awesome coaches. It wasn't hard at all to buy in. You had to trust. That's the big thing. Trust.”
There's no doubt Wilson trusts Replogle.
“We talk about needing to make a play and our definition of making a play is to play as hard as you can every play and things will happen. Adam embraces that as much as anyone on our team.”
Case in point -- last Saturday's win over Iowa. Replogle tied for the team lead in tackles, with seven. That included two tackles for loss. He also recovered a fumble
“He's been our most consistent defensive player this year,” defensive co-coordinator Doug Mallory says. “I felt he had one of his better games against Iowa, but like everyone, he has to continue to come on and improve.
“He's a disruptive force for us up front. He's able to get off blocks, able to maintain his gap, able to get penetration in the backfield. He's giving us good effort in his pass rush. He's one of the best leaders in program.”
Replogle is one of four football playing brothers. One, Tyler, graduated from IU two years ago. Another, Mike is sophomore linebacker for the Hoosiers. The youngest brother, Jake, is a high school senior who has committed to Purdue.
Yes, the family backyard often turned into a battle ground.
“It was absolutely competitive,” Adam says. “Everything from school to backyard baseball, basketball, hockey for a little bit, backyard football. Anything we could, we were competitive. That's what has helped us out tremendously.”
That, you see, is no joke.