Ikard’s rookie season coincides with Whisenhunt’s Titans debut.
Whisenhunt, 52, compiled a 45-51 record in six years in Arizona. He led the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance during the 2008 season. Last season, he was the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator.
“When you hear him talking about going to the Super Bowl, it’s obvious this is a coach who has proven he can help take a team to the highest level,” Ikard said. “He’s a highly respected coach throughout the NFL. He’s a great leader for this organization.
“It’s a good change that opens up competition, which forces every player, even longtime veterans, to concentrate at a high level. I’m very excited to play for a coach who has that type of credentials.”
A Rimington Trophy finalist, an award given to the top offensive lineman in college football, Ikard was named first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. He doesn’t take his NFL opportunity for granted.
“It was very exciting to play in a preseason game,” Ikard said. “Obviously it’s a very stressful time. Every day you’re thankful you haven’t been cut. That’s just part of being in an NFL camp, especially for guys on the bubble, undrafted guys like myself.
“It’s a very interesting process where you understand how the business side, how cutthroat it is. That’s something you learn to appreciate after you see other guys get cut. You never really know what might happen. You just try to do your job and hope that’s good enough.”
No matter how it turns out the next few weeks, Ikard said it’s rewarding to play football at the highest level.
“It’s exciting,” Ikard said. “Everyone that plays big-time college football, their goal is to make the NFL. But I’m not satisfied just to be in camp. My goal is to make this team. I’m grateful the Titans are giving me the opportunity, and I’m trying to make the most of it.”