Three years ago, Joe Gedeon was a student at Ivy Tech in Bloomington, a school without a football team.
The Columbus North graduate had a plan, and it involved a school in Bloomington. Just not Ivy Tech.
But while he was at Ivy Tech, Gedeon was all about football. He did a lot of stretching, lifted weights, watched a lot of film and kicked at his high school when he was home on weekends.
Gedeon enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 2014 and walked on to the football team.
“This was my plan,” Gedeon said. “After that summer, I got a little bigger, faster, stronger, and I just knew I could play at a Division I school, so I thought I’d give it a try.”
Now, two years later, the redshirt-sophomore is the No. 1 punter for the Hoosiers. His first punt as a collegian was downed at the 1-yard line and led to a safety.
In IU’s 34-13 win at Florida International, Gedeon punted five times for a 38.6-yard average. Three of his punts were downed inside the 20, and another one was stopped at the 20.
Then in last weekend’s 30-20 win against Ball State, Gedeon punted five times for a 40.2-yard average, although the Cardinals did block one of his punts for a touchdown. Four of his punts were downed inside the 20.
“Honestly, I tried to approach it as if I was a veteran because I knew coming into it that I’ve never played in a (college) game before,” Gedeon said. “But I’ve punted over 10,000 balls. I really just fell back to my training.”
In the spring, Gedeon would punt after class, then study, then go to tutoring, then punt again in the afternoon. This summer, he estimates he punted close to 2,000 balls a week.
That doesn’t come as a surprise to his high school coach, Tim Bless.
“He has a dream, and he went to Indiana University on a mission to fulfill his dream, and his work ethic has been second to none,” Bless said. “He has worked tirelessly within the football program at IU, but anytime he is in town, you’re going to find him on our turf working or in our weight room working out. It’s a young man who has persisted through to achieve his dream, and now it’s come to fruition.”
Since the Hoosiers do not have a coach for kickers or punters, Gedeon has gone to Cincinnati with his roommate, linebacker Marcus Oliver, to work with kicking coach Dick Sietz. Seitz has worked with punters from Ohio State and Notre Dame.
In his first live rep at an IU practice, Gedeon bombed a 65-yarder. That caught the attention of head coach Kevin Wilson.
“Coach Wilson told me that I probably have one of the strongest legs in the country,” Gedeon said. “It’s not about ability, but more dependability. The last two years have been just getting my timing down and becoming more consistent and becoming dependable.”
This summer, Gedeon won the punting job over two other candidates. Before the first game, he texted his mother Rosalie, along with Bless and some former players, asking for advice.
“They just instilled some more confidence in me,” Gedeon said. “They said that I made plays at the high school level, and that I was a really good athlete. I think that confidence helped me a lot.”
Gedeon, who was a standout hurdler at North, thought about running track at Indiana State University or playing football at a smaller school when he was coming out of high school. The 6-foot-3½ 195-pounder has put on 35 pounds since high school.
Last year, Gedeon was the Hoosiers’ No. 2 punter behind Erich Toth.
“Coach Wilson always said that if we were up by a lot or down by a lot, he was going to give me a shot, but we had so many close games that opportunity never presented itself,” Gedeon said. “Waiting for two years helped me. With Erich Toth in front of me, he just taught me a lot. It’s been a really good journey.”
Since he was the No. 2 punter, Gedeon was able to travel with the team last season. That included a December trip to New York City for IU’s Pinstripe Bowl game against Duke at Yankee Stadium.
Although the Hoosiers lost that game 44-41, Gedeon will remember the trip with fondness.
“That was a pretty cool experience, just being in New York with all the things that went on and all the sights we got to see as a team,” Gedeon said. “Obviously, we hadn’t been to a bowl game in a long time, so it was a good steppingstone for this program.”
After going 6-7 last season, IU has hopes of doing better this fall. The Hoosiers are 2-0 going into Saturday’s matchup with Wake Forest.
IU begins Big Ten play Oct. 1 at home against Michigan State and then travels to Ohio State. Those two teams have been part of the College Football Playoff in the past two years.
“We have a lot of ability, and a lot of people don’t think we can do as well as we think we can do,” Gedeon said. “In years past, we’ve struggled with consistency, so this year, we’re really trying to be consistent from week to week, growing as a team and have our offense, defense and special teams complement each other because we know that if we play to the best of our abilities, we can go toe-to-toe with anybody on our schedule.”
Following this season, Gedeon will have two years of eligibility remaining. He’s a senior academically, majoring in economics and plans to pursue master’s degree in finance.
Along the way, Gedeon hopes to earn a scholarship with his performance on the football field.
“Hopefully in the near future,” Gedeon said. “Right now, I’m just focused on doing my job to the best of my abilities, and all else will take care of itself.”
Name: Joe Gedeon
High school: Columbus North
College: Indiana University
Year: Redshirt-sophomore (football), senior (academically)
Height: 6-foot-3 1/2
Did you know: Gedeon comes from an athletic family. His younger sister, Debie, was a starter on North’s 2015 Class 4A state championship girls basketball team and was a three-time state qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles in track. She now plays both sports at Rose-Hulman.