BLOOMINGTON – Vinny Fiacable has always wanted to play football in Indiana.
Fiacable’s father, Steve, and brothers, Mike and Steve, suited up for the Hoosiers and was excited to make the team as a freshman last season.
“For the first month or so I still couldn’t believe I was here,” Fiacable said in the summer of 2021. “It was a surreal moment, especially when we first put our pads on, it was like, ‘ I’m really doing this.’ It was a little crazy for me. I’ve been coming to UI games my whole life, ever since I was a kid. … Now that I’m part of the team and I can help the team progress and get better, it just means a lot and it’s very exciting.”
After redshirting in 2021, the guard was the scout team player of the week before the Hoosiers played Maryland but did not see game action, Fiacable is ready to do a lot more than put on the pads to the Hoosiers this year. In the spring, coach Tom Allen said the Fort Wayne native and Bishop Dwenger would be counted on to give the Hoosiers “some really solid depth” on the interior of the offensive line.
This plan has not changed. Fiacable was listed as the primary backup at left guard — behind redshirt junior Mike Katic — on Indiana’s first depth chart and has put himself in position to be a major contributor for a team in need a much better game from the offensive line than he got one. season ago
“You never know when your number might be called and when your number is called you have to be ready,” Fiacable said. “You’ve got to help the team win. The standard isn’t for the player, it’s for the position. … You better answer the call.
Depth on offense will be especially important for the Hoosiers this year. Allen has hinted at Indiana’s plans to run a slightly faster scheme under new offensive coordinator Walt Bell. This will involve rotating more players on the pitch to keep everyone fresh until the end of matches.
To prepare for a role in that offense, the 6-foot-4 Fiacable spent the offseason slimming down. He dropped nearly 20 pounds and is listed at 308 entering this season. He hopes the weight loss, plus some added muscle, will make him faster and improve his technique.
“(I worked) really hard,” Fiacable said. “I had to watch everything I ate, I had to get the protein and count the calories. It was a process, but I’m still doing it and I’m still getting there.
“I feel faster, I don’t feel slow. My body feels great because I’m eating well and sleeping well. My body composition feels right. It makes practice, running, training feel so much better.”
Fiacable is expected to contribute for a line that was a weak spot for Indiana last season. The Hoosiers ranked 119th out of 130 FBS teams in average line yards, a metric meant to separate a line’s contribution to a running game, and were 91st nationally in sack percentage.
This offseason, the Hoosiers have focused on being a more physical front. As right tackle Matthew Bedford said, physicality is at an “all-time premium,” and the Hoosiers want players who can move opposing defensive lines against their will.
Fiacable spent his first year honing the technique needed to, as he put it, “block someone as big as you,” and he feels ready to push hard if called upon.
“We’re very proud of the physique,” Fiacable said. “You’ve got to get guys off the ball, you’ve got to do your job and the only way to do that is with your body moving another guy.”
Fiacable is one of four Fort Wayne offensive linemen on IU’s roster this year, joining redshirt sophomores Randy Holtz of Snider and Luke Wiginton of Bishop Dwenger and freshman DJ Moore of Snider.
The Hoosiers have emphasized in-state recruiting for linebackers during their six years under offensive line coach Darren Hiller, and Fiacable believes coaching in Fort Wayne helps high schoolers stand out when they’re scouted university programs.
“All those guys are doing well,” Hiller said of Fort Wayne’s foursome. “Obviously, the older guys in the show are a little bit ahead of the new guys. DJ Moore, he’s learning a lot, he’s swimming a little bit, he’s trying to figure it out, while a guy like Vinny Fiacable, he’s just burning out the light bulb . He was in the same position as DJ a year ago.”
Fiacable, a year older, wiser and summery, is ready to graduate from team scout to on-field difference maker.
So how will it feel when you take the field for the first time in the uniform you dreamed of wearing as a child?
“I don’t know yet,” Fiacable said, “but I think it’s going to be great.”
Note: Allen said the Hoosiers will not announce their starting quarterback before the season begins against Illinois on Sept. 2. Connor Bazelak, Jack Tuttle and Dexter Williams II are vying for the job, and Indiana plans to name a starter internally “in the near future,” Allen said Friday.