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Former Hoosier Tracy Porter shines in Super Bowl

Feb. 17, 2010
by Jeremy Gray

On Super Bowl Sunday I was wearing my Bob Sanders jersey and snarfing down cupcakes with blue and white frosting as I watched Peyton Manning march the Indianapolis Colts down the field against the New Orleans Saints. I was supremely confident that the Colts were going to pull out another fourth quarter victory. I even told a fellow spectator that this would be the drive that would cement Peyton Manning's legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I said, 'This is Peyton Manning's Joe Montana moment.'

Porter image

Photo courtesy IU Athletics

Tracy Porter

After the first few passes of the drive, my declaration was looking prescient. Unfortunately, a certain Indiana University alumnus had other ideas. Former IU standout cornerback Tracy Porter broke for the ball, picked off Peyton Manning's toss to Reggie Wayne, and left a vapor trail en route to the end zone. The interception sewed up New Orleans' first Super Bowl victory, and the binge drinking on Bourbon Street hasn't stopped since.

Though deflated after my favorite NFL team's loss, the fact that the world was able to see what Indiana fans had known for a long time made me smile. Those who follow the Indiana football program have always known that Tracy Porter was an electrifying athlete who had a knack for big plays in big situations. He saved the Hoosiers with big plays on defense and special teams time and time again over the course of his collegiate career. Now he is being given the recognition that he deserves.

Super Bowl Sunday turned out to be a great day for Tracy Porter and a very good day for IU football. Game announcer Jim Nantz mentioned Porter's Indiana ties as he scampered to the end zone. ESPN's Adam Sheffter wrote, "He was born in Louisiana, went to college at Indiana, and became a legend in Miami." Publications nationwide noted the cruel irony of an Indiana Hoosier (and a certain Boilermaker) sealing the Indianapolis Colts' fate in the waning moments of the Super Bowl. Tracy Porter is now a household name, and his signature play will be forever tied to the university that gave him a chance.

A zero-star recruit out of high school in Louisiana, Porter slipped through the SEC floorboards and landed on Indiana's shorthanded roster. After arriving in Bloomington, Porter was unable to redshirt and played right away for Gerry DiNardo in 2004. As a freshman, Porter led the Hoosiers in interceptions and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He pulled this off despite missing the final four weeks of the season with a shoulder injury.

Over the next three years, Porter wreaked havoc on opponents with impossibly athletic pass breakups, interceptions and punt returns. He finished second in school history with 16 career interceptions and was one of the greatest punt returners in the history of the program. Porter was an incredible cover corner at Indiana and absolutely central to Indiana's run to the Insight Bowl in 2007.

Off the field, Tracy Porter the person emerged. As a freshman he was painfully shy and reluctant to give interviews. Four years later, Porter was comfortable addressing more than 300 people at the annual football banquet.

Still flying under the radar, Porter caught the attention of NFL general managers after he blistered the NFL combine with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash time. In four years Porter went from being a retiring and unheralded recruit, to a vocal leader and highly coveted pro prospect. Tracy was eventually taken early in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft, and he has become a star in just two years in the league. His physical and emotional maturation took shape in the lovely confines of Bloomington, Ind.

Now Porter has been given the nickname "Legend Killer" after picking off Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in crucial situations in the two most important football games of the year. He also appears poised to become one of the best cover corners in the NFL.

On Super Bowl Sunday Tracy Porter became a hero to the people of the city of New Orleans. While many IU fans are upset that the Colts didn't prevail, the IU family is very proud to claim Tracy Porter as one of our own.

And additional congratulations goes to IU alumnus Courtney Roby who served as a returner for the Saints on Super Bowl Sunday. Roby is a North Central High School graduate and native of Indianapolis. Roby compiled 102 return yards in the Super Bowl game. Congratulations also go out to former IU graduate assistant Mike Mallory (son of former head coach Bill), who serves as the Saints' assistant special teams coach.

The Cream and Crimson are big in the Bayou.