Majors Finishing Things Right in Senior Season
Oct. 3, 2007
It's rare in college football to have a four-year starter at a key position. It's even more rare to have a four-year starter there who competed as a true freshman. And it's nearly unheard of to have two players who fit that mold - especially when they are, and have been, the starting cornerbacks.
But that's the position that the Indiana football team was in entering this season - with the most experience at cornerback it has had since before the two were freshmen. On one side is the captain, the guy who has earned all-conference honors and national recognition - Tracy Porter.
But on the other side is his right-hand man, a guy who doesn't have the notoriety, but has been just as crucial a cog in the machine. He's the guy who has to step up when Porter is blanketing the opposition's top receiver. He's Leslie Majors, and he worked hard all through the spring and summer to be in a position to do his part to help the team win.
"This is the last one," Majors says of his senior season. "When I'm old and gray, I don't want to look back and think, `I could've and would've and should've,' I just do everything I can now. This summer, I just did the program that we had going on as hard as I could."
Majors is the consummate team guy. He doesn't need the recognition to be happy. And playing opposite Porter, who was an All-Big Ten selection in 2006 and is second on IU's all-time interception list, Majors is more than happy to play second fiddle to Porter throughout his four years.
"It's nice to have someone to take all those picks," Majors says of Porter. "I keep hoping that if they throw to him and he picks it off enough, they would come at me a little bit. It's been fun, he's been my guy."
Majors and Porter are just two members of a group of cornerbacks that has been maligned in previous years, but has emerged this season with more swagger and confidence than ever before. And the results have shown so far, with IU allowing just over 200 yards per game through the air to rank in the top half of the conference.
Add to that the fact that opponents are averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt and that the defensive backfield has seven takeaways, and the Hoosier DBs are showing that they are ready to lead the team to the next level. And they do it all with a smile.
"There's a lot of characters in there," Majors says of his fellow cornerbacks. "We work hard, we play hard and we have a lot of fun. That's the whole thing, we just try to have a lot of fun all the time."
Mixed in with that group is the future. With Majors and Porter departing after the season, among the returning cornerbacks only Christopher Phillips has more than three games of experience in his IU career. Majors knows that a big part of his role on this team is helping the younger players on the team - especially true freshmen Chris Adkins and Donnell Jones - develop and improve so that IU Football can continue its progress next season.
"I almost feel like that's my duty as a senior, to lead the young guys like the older guys did when I first came in," Majors says. "There were some guys that helped me through and showed me the way."
When Majors was one of the young guys, he had a decision to make. As a high school athlete, Majors was not only accomplished in football. Though he did go over 1,000 receiving yards with 18 touchdowns on the gridiron, Majors was a standout track athlete who was clocked at 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash. As a junior, he led Thornwood High School to the Illinois state championship as he won the state championship in the long jump and also competed in the triple jump and the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
So Majors faced the decision of whether to focus solely on football or to continue his career with the IU track team as well.
"I was going to run track here, but doing two sports in college is really hard," Majors says of his decision. "I wanted to focus more on my school instead of trying to focus all on athletics. I started track my sophomore year of high school, and I was just good at it. I went down to states and finished third that year."
Growing up in the Chicago area, Majors faced the challenges that are all too associated with youths growing up in the city. But for him, sports provided an outlet that kept him from heading down a wayward path.
"Sports just took up so much of my time, I couldn't really do anything else," he says. "It's fun, you go out there and hang out with all your friends and just play around, and you might luck out and get a scholarship or something."
Majors doesn't want other kids in similar situations to fall into the traps that he avoided. After he graduates, the recreational sports management major wants to set up an after-school program, possibly through the YMCA, that keeps kids involved in sports during their free time.
"Basically because I'm a kid at heart," Majors says of his desire to work with kids. "I just like to play all the time and have fun. I figure kids do too, so playing around with kids all day wouldn't be a bad job. I want to design a sports after-school program for inner-city kids to keep them from getting involved in the wrong things."
But before he moves on to his next career ambition, the senior is focused on continuing the progress that the IU Football program has seen over the past few years. And knowing he was a part of that return to success is something Majors will always treasure.
"That was my whole goal coming in," he says. "When I was first getting recruited here, they would send postcards that said things like `help be a part of rebuilding IU and the tradition.' I always wanted to be a part of that, so to see that it's happening, it's pretty cool."
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