Wayne Times’ return abilities, kickoffs and punts, are well documented at FIU.
He ranks third all-time at FIU in total return average at 19.4 yards, he teamed with T.Y. Hilton a year ago to rank No. 1 in punt returns and No. 12 in kickoff returns nationally, and he currently ranks in the top five in school history for total return yardage with 1,142 and number of returns with 59.
Lots of nice returns on FIU’s investment in Times, if you like. However, In Times’ résumé, there was one not-so-nice return he might remember best.
In 2009, as a somewhat nervous freshman, he was back near the goal line camping out under a kickoff against Florida Atlantic University.
“I was looking up and I was going to catch it,” he sheepishly remembered. “But it hit me in the face mask. But the whole time, I don’t know why, I was thinking the ball was in my hands and started to run.”
Then, as he ran, he saw a football bouncing on the ground. ‘Oh, no,’ thought Times. ‘That’s not right.’
“I saw it bouncing on the ground and was able to recover it,” he said. To this day, there is still a sound of relief in his voice.
“It was kind of weird,” Times concluded.
Times’ college career has gone more smoothly since that moment.
He has become one of the best returners in school history and also one of the best receivers. He is working on a 24-game streak with at least one reception in each game.
What does that streak mean to him?
Pretty much, nothing.
“I look at it simply as it’s helping the team,” he said of catching passes and not focusing on the streak.
“The streak doesn’t really mean much to me. I’m a team guy. It’s Little Me, Big Team.”
As a receiver, Times, a 5-11, 190-pound senior, has 141 receptions for 1,499 yards for his career.
He contributes part of that success to sophomore quarterback Jake Medlock.
“We have a good bond,” Times said. “We spend a lot of time together on the field and off the field. I have a connection with him. Some plays I need him and other plays he needs me. We help each other out as best as we can.”
Medlock throws the compliment back at Times. “Since Day One, I have had a connection with him. We knew there would be a bond between him and me. We rely on each other. He’s a great player, great teammate and great friend.”
FIU coach Mario Cristobal said of Times, “He’s been pretty steady.” And Cristobal agrees on Times’ philosophy on the streak. “We want to just focus on the game. The streak will take care of itself.”
Then Cristobal chips in with the compliment that Times won’t give himself.
“He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Cristobal said. “He works hard and he certainly had done a real good job for us this year.”