Football: Black brings big heart on and off the field

Rohan Nadkarni, Assistant Sports Editor

Most 6-foot-2-inch, 294-pound defensive linemen intimidate a room full of people rather easily.

But Indiana defensive tackle Larry Black Jr. saves his intimidation for the field, revealing a much different side when not crashing helmets in the trenches.

The redshirt senior first fell in love with baseball, rooting for his hometown Cincinnati Reds while growing up in the city. And although Scott loves Indiana, his heart remains at home with his family.

“I love keeping up with the Reds outside of football,” Scott said. “I’m a big family guy, I love my family. I hang out at home whenever I get a chance.”

In fact, Black began his athletic career  as a baseball player. As a child, he played catcher before ever trying football. When Black did put on a football uniform for the first time, he played in the Pee Wee league, but quit because he preferred other sports.

But once Black entered his middle school years, his body steered him toward football, and he never looked back.

Black began to rack up the awards during his senior year of high school. The defensive lineman earned all-state, all-city and first team all-league selections that year and picked up the Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year award as the best defensive lineman in his division of Ohio.

After redshirting his freshman year at Indiana, Black continued to garner attention when he made his debut on the college field in 2009. Sporting News recognized Black with spots on its Freshmen All-American and All-Big Ten teams.

Family plays a big role in Black’s football pursuits. Larry Sr. and Tampala Black, Larry Jr.’s parents, still provide the driving force behind their son’s play.

“My family is very supportive,” Black said. “Whenever I’m down or need that extra push, they’ll be right there for me. They’ve helped me make it this far in life, and they keep on pushing me.”

Whatever his motivation, Black’s play has helped propel Indiana to its current 2-1 record. In addition to invaluable defensive leadership, Black continues to stuff the stat sheet for the Hoosiers.

So far this season, the redshirt senior recorded nine tackles, including two sacks and four tackles for loss, as well as a pass defended. Black entered the season as the team’s active leader in career tackles for loss.

With two sacks already, Black has set a career high for sacks in a season, with nine games still left to go.

Black and his teammates take great pride in representing their school as a legitimate Big Ten football team. Although often dismissed as a basketball school, Black thinks Indiana can still make some noise in the conference.

“We definitely need to start winning more games, but I take no shame in playing for my school,” he said.

Looking toward his future, Black admits that playing professional football would be another dream come true. Yet the Midwestern boy’s love for his hometown could lead him on a very different path.

“I see myself going back to my neighborhood and working with the kids there,” Scott said. “You always have those coaches who coached you as a child that helped out, and I could be that person.”

For now, the recreational sport management major remains focused on being the best football player he can be. Despite Black’s noble ideas on serving his community once he graduates, Northwestern should be very worried come Saturday as No. 97 stands over the ball, waiting to feast on offensive players.

He’s still a menace on the field.