Layne playing with chip on his shoulder at IU

He tried to stay patient. What more could he do?

As a high school senior, Raheem Layne was doing all he could to elevate his recruiting profile in the fertile proving grounds of Florida. Still, as late as October of that season, Layne had zero scholarship offers.

Eventually, Minnesota extended the first offer in November 2016. Soon, a slew of others followed. By the time he settled on Indiana in January 2017, Layne had a dozen schools competing for his commitment.

In a matter of months, Layne went from feeling completely overlooked during his final season of high school ball to earning Indiana’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year award last fall.

That same urge to prove people wrong is what’s driving the 6-foot-1 cornerback to be even better as a sophomore this season.

“I still feel like I’m the guy counted out,” Layne said. “I still feel like I have a chip on my shoulder. I have a point to prove to people. I’m glad I got the opportunity to showcase my talent and play some of the best teams in the country, because our conference is so competitive. I’m just really thankful that I can showcase my skills.”

Layne played in all 12 games last season for IU, starting in the Hoosiers’ blowout victory over Rutgers. He first announced his presence with three solo stops in last year’s season opener against Ohio State.

For Layne, it was confirmation that he was correct all along. While he waited for that first scholarship offer to come at Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Fla., Layne knew he could play at this level.

Now, he’s proving it.

“I trusted the process,” Layne said. “I have faith in God. Anything that he wants to happen is going to happen. It happened on his time. I believe in that and I knew it was coming eventually.”

Layne so appreciated Minnesota’s initial offer that he originally committed to the Golden Gophers. But when Minnesota dumped its coaching staff in January 2017, Layne decommitted.

At that point, he had a list of offers that included IU, Purdue, Iowa and Vanderbilt, and chose the Hoosiers shortly before National Signing Day that February.

It all came after a strong senior season by Layne, who didn’t allow a single touchdown all fall. He closed his final high school campaign with 57 tackles, two interceptions — including a pick-six — and three forced fumbles, earning first-team all-area recognition.

“I feel like I took (football) more seriously,” Layne said of his transformative senior season. “I took the weight room serious and I was just having fun out there. When you’re having fun out there playing, that’s when you play your best ball. I just balled out.”

Layne did the same at Indiana last season, earning praise from the coaching staff.

This fall, Layne is trying to build on that effort. For his position coach, Brandon Shelby, commanding small fundamentals of the position is the top objective.

“He understands what we need,” Shelby said. “He understands my coaching. He understands what angers me — the little things. A lot of times, it’s not the big things. That’s the main thing (discussed) when we got to know one another. The little things irked me. He gets that and he understands that. He’s been doing a good job.”

Like the rest of his teammates on IU’s roster, Laye was directed this offseason to pick a word that would define his 2018 season. Layne picked the word “rise.”

It was a fitting selection for a player that, for the past two years, has enjoyed his long-awaited ascent.

“I really want to step up, level up and become a better teammate, better overall player and just really a better man,” Layne said. “I feel like I got to lock in.”

2 comments

  1. Layne has competition at Corner but has experience to draw upon. He makes the DB room better and could be one of the leaders showing the young guys what it takes to play in the B1G. I am sure Layne will get opportunities on the field this year as IU works to keep defensive players fresh during games.

  2. Much better for a program like IU to get guys like Layne who have something to prove and who begin to reach their physical peak in college than to get more highly rated recruits who feel that they’re entitled to be the starter. It’s that hunger, that determination to prove the skeptics wrong that galvanize young men like Layne and increase their productivity and value to a team. It appears that Layne was one of those “diamonds in the rough” that IU needs to continue to find.

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