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Indiana All-American Dan Feeney aims for more as senior

Indiana offensive line coach Greg Frey has a secret weapon for keeping his players happy: his wife's breakfast burritos.

Every Thursday, Andrea Frey whips up over 40 of them for the hungry Hoosiers' offensive linemen, who scarf down the eggs, sausage, bacon and hash browns wrapped in a tortilla.

"She makes a mean breakfast burrito," Indiana guard Dan Feeney said. "Better than any place around here has. It's the best."

So maybe that's why star linemen like to stick around Bloomington. First it was left tackle Jason Spriggs, who came back for his senior year in 2015 and has soared up NFL draft boards with his workouts the past few months. Then it was Feeney, who thrilled his coaches by deciding to return as a fifth-year senior in 2016.

Feeney was an All-American last season, earning first-team honors from ESPN.com. He considered turning pro, and Greg Frey said he would have impressed NFL scouts much like Spriggs has done. Ultimately, Feeney said, "my heart was bent on staying." And, OK, it was more than just those burritos.

"I think it's good for me to develop as a player and to take this team farther than it went last year," Feeney said. "I felt I had more to prove and that I could take my game a lot farther."

Feeney already has reached rarefied air as a player. A three-year starter (he missed all of 2013 with a foot injury), he has helped power an Indiana offense that led the Big Ten in points and yards last season. He blocked for a 2,000-yard rusher in 2014 (Tevin Coleman) and a pair of 1,000-yard tailbacks in 2015 (Jordan Howard and Devine Redding).

According to the Hoosiers' stats, Feeney led the team with 102 knockdowns last season, including 12 in the Pinstripe Bowl against Duke. Then there's this amazing number: Feeney has allowed only one sack in his career.

This will tell you something about his competitiveness. Despite playing more than 2,800 snaps in an Indiana uniform, he can recall that one sack in vivid detail.

"It was against Rutgers two years ago," he said. "They ran a stunt with their two interior guys, and the looper came all the way around. It was a long-developing play, and my eyes weren't in the right gap and they caught me. I remember it just like it was yesterday."

Feeney wants to win every battle, every block, every practice drill. His passion and work ethic have made him one of the team's leaders, and Frey said his drive helped set the tone in the offensive line room the past few seasons.

"He plays so hard every snap," Frey said. "You very rarely if ever find him loafing. I never have to worry about him in any drill."

The Hoosiers have had to dial things back for him a bit this spring. With so much experience under his belt, there's no reason for him to absorb more hits on his body during team periods. So he has spent a lot of time just getting individual instruction and letting younger players take reps. (Indiana lost Spriggs and center Jake Reed from last season but returns five players who have started, plus promising sophomore tackle Brandon Knight).

Feeney, who'll graduate in May and intern in the team's strength program, is basically getting a graduate-level degree this spring in the finer points of guard play. Improving his hand and head placement and finishing out every block are among his goals.

Indiana will gladly take the same level of play Feeney has provided the past few seasons. Getting to a bowl game last year -- the program's first since 2007 -- motivated Feeney to return and lead the team to even more milestones. He also wasn't quite ready for the pro lifestyle.

"It's like a family here," he said. "I love being around the Hoosier football team. It was tough to leave."

Getting more of those Thursday morning breakfast burritos doesn't hurt, either.