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IU Football Q&A: Cornerbacks Coach Brandon Shelby

Cornerbacks coach Brandon Shelby took questions from the media earlier this week.  He is in his 10th season at Indiana.

Shelby was a standout defensive back at Oklahoma, where he participated in two BCS National Championship games and three-straight BCS bowl games. As a four-year letterman (2001-04), he earned both All-Big 12 honors and Academic All-Big 12 honors.

As a true freshman, Tiawan Mullen became the fourth Shelby protégé to lead the Big Ten (T-11th nationally) in pass breakups with 13 during the 2019 season.

See also:  Reese Taylor’s rise up the depth chart | A look at Indiana’s 2020 roster

(Transcript via

Q: On if he’s had anything odd happen on the recruiting trail…
SHELBY: It’s definitely new times and new ways of communicating. Recruiting has definitely taken a different turn from what the usual spin is. Nothing really new though. These young people, they are so inclined to technology. They’ve adjusted very well to Zoom and Zoom meetings. We’re always kind of FaceTiming anyway. I think the biggest thing for them is we’ve got a lot more time on our hands at the house, so we bug them a lot more than we did maybe in the past. With the new rules allowing to call and FaceTime really is unprecedented this time of year, because typically you only get one phone call from April 15 to May 31. They’ve opened it up now to where we can communicate with them all the time. It’s really been different, but you have to adjust. Nothing really quirky. This is how they communicate. Very rarely do young people really just sit and talk on the phone like we do. They FaceTime one another, which is crazy to me because you’ll be sitting in the house and all of a sudden, a recruit just wants to FaceTime you and see. You’ll see him run into a different room and make sure everybody is decent. But at the end of the day that’s the craziest thing that’s been going on.

Q: On his confidence in the cornerbacks…
SHELBY: We surely have a great foundation. The way it stands is that the best people are going to play. That could change from week to week. I told that to our guys last week. Tiawan Mullen had his name in the paper and on the Internet, but he knows this, if he doesn’t prepare in the right way and in the right manner that has helped him obtain this success then he has an opportunity to lose his job. Just like he came in last season and performed at a high level and took someone’s job. He has to understand that the same thing that helped elevate him could also be his destruction if he doesn’t do the little things it takes to prepare. But to answer your question, we have a great foundation. We have some guys that have been on the football field, they know the checks, they know what it takes to win in the Big Ten. But also, too, iron sharpens iron and those young guys who are coming in, they know that if they come in and push these guys and they’re the better player they’re going to play. It keeps those guys sharp that are here to keep that competitive edge. That’s how I’ve always been. That’s what I always do. I like competition. I’m very, very satisfied with where we are going to start come the fall.

Q: On how Tiawan Mullen can improve this year…
SHELBY: I think the great thing about Tiawan, he comes from a football family. He was able to do it because he loves the game. He has some siblings, he has one that’s older that plays for the Raiders and a younger one that’s going to be really, really good and it’s a competitive family. So, growing up I think he had that deal where ‘I want to be the best Mullen out there’. Each of them possessed skills that allowed them to be successful thus far. Ultimately, down in Florida, football is kind of at a different level. He started at a young age from a high school where he was well coached and the competition was at a point where he had to adjust a little bit, but he was able to jump right in and do what he needed to do. That allowed him to play as a true freshman, along with his football IQ. To take the next step I think ultimately, he needs to learn the game of football in a way that, understand how coordinators think, understand what the whole playbook encompasses. All those guys are kind of in the same group. When you look at Jaylin, Reese and Tiawan, I teach a lot of these guys to study pictures, and when you see a picture you make this check. A lot of times they don’t know what this check means to everybody else. So, for him to take the next step, he needs to understand that when I say this check it makes the D-line do this, this tells the linebacker to do this. That way it can encompass the whole defense. When you’re a true freshman you have to break it down. You can’t give them the whole cow. You have to teach them, step by step by step. And now I think he’s at the point where he wants it, and he needs to learn overall. Linebacker fits, D-line play. I think that’s how he makes it to the next level. When it comes to just corner, I think it’s just studying film, studying his opponent, understanding what we do throughout the week as coaches, what those reports mean and how to read them. Right now, during this time we’re taking time as a team to teach, not only him but all those guys what reports mean and how they dissect that to help them out at their position. That’s what he needs to do to take the next step, and that’s what we’ve been working on during this time at home and these Zoom meetings.

Q: On what the cornerbacks need to work on to take it to another level…
SHELBY: We need to do a better job of, when we have an opportunity to get an interception, make that defining play, to make it. I even go back to that Purdue game. Tiawan Mullen had a really good game, but he also missed a lot of open field tackles. I think that when its third and whatever, and they throw a ball out to the flat and he’s in great position, we need to make that tackle. Or when the ball hits our hands, to make a big-time interception. We need game-changing plays. I think that’s the next thing that we need to take that next step of being in the upper echelon of the league week in and week out. Those are things that I’m just pushing those guys to do.

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