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Bloomington Herald Times: College Football: A Mellencamp Bowl Matchup
12.24.2015 - College football: A Mellencamp bowl matchup Father, son on opposiite sides for Pinstripe game

College football: A Mellencamp bowl matchup

By Mike Miller Blloomington Herald-Times

His father’s name adorns Indiana’s indoor football facility and his ties to the Hoosiers’ program run deep.

But Hud Mellencamp’s allegiance in the Pinstripe Bowl is clear.

He’ll be on Duke’s sideline, wearing his No. 17 jersey in the final game of a college football career that he didn’t necessarily see coming.

“It’s been a wild ride,” he said.

Indeed it has for the former Golden Gloves boxer and Bloomington native who didn’t have much at all in the way of formal football experience when he walked on to the Blue Devils’ program in 2012.

Four years later, Mellencamp is preparing for a dream matchup against his hometown school.

This is a game he and his friends — including a few on IU’s team — have been talking about for years. Mellencamp, who is close with former Indiana walk-on Ty Smith and backup quarterback Zander Diamont, says the matchup has allowed for a spirited back-and-forth during the weeks leading into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Yankee Stadium.

It’s a conversation that will be settled on the field in New York.

“We’ve always talked about the Duke-IU matchup and how it’s been a fantasy for us,” Mellencamp said. “It’s going to be really fun.”
Just as the last four years of football have been for Mellencamp, whose only experience with the sport prior to arriving in Durham came through a “rag-tag” squad he played on during his teenage years in Indiana.

But football was far from his focus as a kid. That belonged to boxing, a sport where Mellencamp excelled. He was a two-time Golden Gloves division champion in his home state, as well as a Junior Olympics title winner in Indiana.

There aren’t many opportunities to box at the collegiate level, and after accepting admission to Duke, Mellencamp sought an opportunity in a different sport.

“I wanted to stay active and do something I enjoyed,” Mellencamp said. “I thought football would be a great option. I got in contact with Coach (David Cutcliffe), and he’s an amazing guy. He helped me out and worked everything out so I could walk on to the team. I applied to Duke because it’s a great school — the best school, by far, that I got into. Once I knew I was going there, I called the football staff and asked if I could come tour the facilities.”

Mellencamp didn’t appear in a single game over his first two seasons, but he’s seen on-field action in a handful of games across his junior and senior seasons. Duke originally tabbed the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder as a cornerback, but moved him to receiver prior to the 2014 season.

He’s played briefly on the offensive side of the ball, though most of his work comes on special teams. At the time of his arrival in 2012, Cutcliffe told the Associated Press that he saw Mellencamp as a “courageous young man.”

“When I came into camp (as a freshman), I was right into the defense,” Mellencamp said. “I never really knew the fundamentals. I would just go out there and I’d play, so they showed me how to refine my skills a little bit, especially that first summer I was there. I got a little more individual attention and a lot more reps. From there, it just progressed.”

The history major is set to graduate from Duke in the spring but isn’t sure what comes next.

Mellencamp says he’s “matured a lot” since he last grabbed headlines in Bloomington following his arrest on a felony battery charge in 2013 for an incident also involving his brother, Speck, and Smith. Hud plead guilty and the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, for which he was placed on probation.

“It helped me grow up,” Mellencamp said. “I took the wrong path for a second but got back on the straight and narrow. I really focused on what I should be doing right in my life.”

For now, that’s football and the game he’s been dreaming about.

“Coming in, I never thought I’d be as close to my team,” Mellencamp said. “They’d always tell me that these guys will be my brothers, but I never really thought that these guys would actually be my family. It’s amazing how it works.”
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