He’s come a long way since lying on the field holding his knee after the opening kickoff of the 2017 Indiana season.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine wasn’t sure what his football career looked like after he tore his ACL on the first of play of what was expected to be a big season for the Florida product five years ago.
This week he was listed by the Tennessee Titans as one of the franchise’s No. 1 receivers on their preseason depth chart.
Going back to his days in Bloomington, Westbrook-Ikhine is familiar with the ups-and-downs of a football life. That’s why he isn’t putting too much significance on this particular achievement.
“I really don’t look into those things too much,” he said this week in a video posted on YouTube by A to Z Sports. “Since college I’ve always had the mentality that depth charts are written in sand, they’re always moving, you always have to prove that you’re that guy, and I feel like that’s what I have to do going forward.”
A major opportunity opened up for Westbrook-Ikhine during the offseason when the Titans traded A.J. Brown to Philadelphia. To this point the former Indiana star appears to be capitalizing on his chance to become a starter in the NFL, but after going from undrafted to this point, Westbrook-Ikhine knows he’ll need to maintain an edge every day to stay on top.
“I feel like I’ve gotta be consistent, and make plays that are thrown my way, and make some ones that maybe aren’t expected for me to make,” he said. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing, for me to prove that I can be a playmaker and help us move the chains.”
Westbrook-Ikhine joined the Titans as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2020 season and was a significant contributor to the team in 2021. He posted 38 receptions for 476 yards and four touchdowns across 16 games, highlighted by a 107-yard performance in Week 11 against Houston.
The Lake Mary, Fla. product finished his IU career with 144 receptions for 2,226 yards and 16 touchdowns. He ranks sixth in catches, seventh in yardage and TDs, and tied for seventh in 100-yard receiving games (6) in the IU record book.
Westbrook, who played in the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl, became the seventh Hoosier to reach 125 receptions and 2,000 yards. The four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree appeared in a program-record 52 games (36 starts).
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