When it became time for Tegray Scales to decide where he would play college football, variations of the numbers game helped him land at Indiana.

The first number was his height. A 6 feet, Scales didn’t have the size that some elite programs are looking for in a linebacker. Still, the Cincinnati Colerain product had offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Louisville, as well as from some Big Ten schools.

What ultimately led Scales to Indiana, however, were other numerically based truths such as the size of his family, the school’s proximity to Cincinnati and the players in his way on the IU depth chart.

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He liked the idea of staying close to home so his many cousins and nieces and nephews could watch him play. He also figured he could make a quick impact.

“I knew coming to Indiana that I had a chance of coming in and playing early, and I knew we were going to play against some top teams,” Scales told reporters this summer. “I wanted to make a difference, make a change.”

He has done that in a big way. Scales is the top player on a greatly improved Indiana defense that expects a stern test on Thursday when Ohio State visits.

The 228-pound senior was named to the preseason All-America team after a junior season in which he led the nation in solo tackles (93) and tackles for loss (23½). He is the first Indiana linebacker to earn All-America mention since Van Waiters in 1987.

“I go to a school that’s not fully established yet,” Scales said. “We’re still trying to break through. It’s one of those deals where you have to keep your head down and keep working.”

In Scales’ case, he also had to change his methods to become what the Hoosiers needed. When current head coach Tom Allen arrived as defensive coordinator last year, he determined immediately that Scales had more to give.

“I knew he was a good player, but you watch the 2015 film, and he wasn’t there,” Allen said. “He just wasn’t doing what he should be doing.”

Allen demanded more of Scales — not so much for what he did on the field as off it.

“He was a great kid, a guy everybody loved and all that, but he wasn’t a leader on our defense,” Allen said. “I challenged him to be a leader (and) he embraced it. He bought into everything that I was telling him. He believed in it, and he lived it out.”

The transition wasn’t always easy, said Scales, who never considered himself a vocal person.

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“I just never did it. I always was younger and playing with older guys, so I really didn’t have to say a lot,” he said.

Once he started, however, Scales has found that people listen to him.

“He’s the lion in the room,” IU linebackers coach William Inge said.

Added Hoosiers cornerback Rashard Fant, “Everybody gravitates toward him. Motivation is his big thing. He needs to be a motivational speaker once football is over with.”

For now, Scales is content to lead an Indiana defense that improved dramatically from 2015 to ’16 and looks to take another step this season.

“That’s my mindset: no regrets,” Scales said. “Every day, one day at a time, I’m giving it all I’ve got. I won’t look back and wish I would have done this or that.”