With Kellen Lewis returning as the starting signal caller the quarterback position will be a force once again. The redshirt sophomore Jacksonville, FL native was a headache for opposing teams last season as he displayed his versatility both as a passer and as a dangerous run threat. Timed as fast as 4.42 seconds in the 40 yard dash, Lewis is one of the fastest players on the Indiana team, and in the Big Ten. After adding around ten pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason he is now stronger and poised to have a big season.
Ready behind Lewis is a trio of pocket passers. Hometown boy, Ben Chappell is coming off of his redshirt season and has looked very impressive in passing drills all summer, displaying a big arm and exceptional accuracy. He will have the confidence of the team when called upon.
True freshman, Teddy Schell, arrives from Barrington, IL, adding quality depth to the quarterback position. The 6'5" left hander has participated in passing drills the majority of the summer, showing why he garnered Pac-10 and Big 12 offers as a high school senior.
Junior quarterback Dustin Hass hails from Oconto, WI. He has headed the scout for the past two seasons, providing good lucks for the starting defense each week.
The running back unit is one that has plenty of depth and is no longer considered inexperienced. Returning starter, Marcus Thigpen, is in his second year as a running back since moving from wide receiver. Coming off of an All-American season as a kick returner, he has bulked up to 193 lbs. and is looking forward to making a name for himself at running back.
Two other "cookie-cutter" backs in terms of size, are Demetrius McCray and Bryan Payton. McCray has added weight and is now around 195 lbs. While Payton has dropped nearly 15 lbs. and is down to 195 lbs. McCray was second in rushing among IU running backs with 321 yards and two touchdowns. Payton was used sparingly but should see more of the field this fall.
The two big backs are Josiah Sears (6'0" 252lbs.) and Trea Burgess (6'1" 219 lbs.). As a 5th year senior, and one of the leaders on the team, Sears is a punishing runner and blocker. He's also like another coach because he's so versed in the game of football. Burgess came on as a preferred walk-on last fall. He greatly impressed on the scout team last season and showed off his great effort and relentless running style all spring.
Lastly, is 5'8" incoming freshman, Zach Davis-Walker. Straight out of Plantation, FL, Walker rushed for 1,427 yards and 16 touchdowns as junior and senior.
At the tight end position there is plenty of depth but not a lot of experience. The only player to see the field as a tight end is 5th year senior, Nick Sexton. Though, last year the Bloomington,IN native mostly saw special teams action. He has worked very hard over the offseason, making great strength gains under the watchful eye of the strength and conditioning staff. He will likely step into the starting position early on this fall.
Then there is converted quarterback, Blake Powers. He displayed great athleticism for the position in the spring, making several great grabs. The blocking aspect of the game is coming along for him as he as added the needed weight to be successful. He should make his name known this season at his new position.
The only other tight end that saw game action last season is Taylor Donnell. He played on special teams, starting on kick-off return for the Illinois game, aiding Marcus Thigpen in returning one for a score.
Three tight ends who have potential but have yet to see game action are the 6'5" 250lb. Troy Wagner, Marion, Ohio product, Brad Martin, and incoming freshman, Max Dedmond. Wagner has worked very hard during the offseason, adding size. He is also in fine shape and will contribute on offense this season. Martin is coming along and Max Dedmond, who could be a defensive end, will add size and speed to the position. Dedmond was an All-State performer as a high school senior, catching 41 balls for 510 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Led by All-American and All-Big Ten performer, James Hardy, this core of wide receivers will be one of the best in the Big Ten this season. Hardy returns for his junior season after catching 51 passes for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall. He needs 11 more touchdowns to surpass Jade Butcher as the Hoosier's all-time leader in touchdown receptions. Due to a great attitude and amazing work ethic over the offseason, the 6'7" 220lb receiver has added speed and strength. His leadership during conditioning and 7-on-7 drills was imperative to us getting better as a team this offseason.
The second leading receiver from last year was James Bailey. The Detroit Denby High School product hauled in 40 passes for 401 yards last fall. He is always in shape and will be a player that opposing defenses will have to pay attention to this season.
Two-sport star (baseball), Andrew Means, has a great reputation for making clutch catches and going over the middle to make the tough catch. He is very tough and very fast (4.3-40 speed). Last season he caught 20 balls for 263 yards. Built like a linebacker (6'0" 215lbs.), Means is great after he catch. He has the strength to break tackles and the speed to outrun people.
Probably the most electrifying offensive player is Ray Fisher. The 5'9" 170lb. speedster has been timed in the 4.2 range in the 40 yard dash. Coming from the well known Glenville High School in Cleveland, OH, Fisher is the quickest of all the Indiana players. He is in amazing shape and will be very difficult for opposing defenses to catch and get a hold of.
Brandon Walker-Roby is entering training camp with a rededicated work ethic to improve on his 5 catches for 40 yards last season. He has worked very hard this summer, doing extra drills and conditioning, to enable himself to compete to his full potential this fall. Another player who has displayed top-notch work ethic is redshirt freshman, Terrance Turner. I've said before that his work ethic has been second to none. Coming off a very impressive spring, he has put himself in a position to move up the depth chart and be of impact on the field this fall.
Adding depth is Chris Banks, walk-on Collin Taylor, and incoming freshman, Matt Ernest. Banks has been a consistent player in all of the receiver and 7-on-7 drills this summer. He has showed the ability to make very difficult catches and will compete for time this camp. Taylor is a redshirt sophomore walk-on out of Carmel High School near Indianapolis, IN. He has lots of potential and though, he did not travel last fall, he has the ability to do just that this season and could become a great story down the road. Matt Ernest comes to us out of Crown Point High School. He caught 56 passes for 960 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior in high school.
Mainstays on the scout team have been Jordan Canada, Jake Kocal, and Joe Kruse.
The offensive line will be much improved this season as we return four starters, tackles Charlie Emerson and Roger Saffold, and guards Pete Saxon and Jon Sandberg. Emerson played in all 12 games last fall, making 11 starts. The Connecticut native made the switch from defensive end before last season. He has added weight to his frame and is one of the most athletic offensive tackles I have seen. Saffold became a dependable player last season, earning the starting job as a true freshman. He opened eyes when he shut out Iowa All-American defensive end Kenny Iwebema. Saxon demonstrated an amazing nasty streak during the eight games he played in, making five starts. He displayed that same nastiness all spring. Jon Sandberg is the strongest player on the team (benching well over 500 lbs.) and will be a true force on the line. Look for him to have a great season.
The center position will be a one to watch this spring. The frontrunner is 5th year senior, Ben Wyss. He is a veteran who knows the playbook inside and out. Also competing will be the 6'7" 285 lb. Alex Perry and likely Jarrod Smith. Both are coming off redshirt seasons where they were contributors to the scout team.
Providing depth at guard will be Cody Faulkner, Kenny Love, and Matt Moses. Faulkner is a redshirt freshman and was highly recruited out of high school. He will fiercely compete for playing time this training camp. Kenny Love is a former defensive tackle who might be the most athletic offensive guard we have. Matt Moses will also put in work this camp.
At tackle there is still Mike Stark, James Brewer, and Kyle Thomas to go along with incoming freshmen Dennis Ziegler, Josh Hager, and Andrew McDonald. Sean Edmundson is another player who could contribute here or at guard. Both Stark and Brewer and big bodies at 6'7" and 6'8". The same goes for Hager, who needs to fill out his frame some more, and Ziegler who is massive. Kyle Thomas played in nine games last season with seven starts. He will be one to watch this training camp as he could earn his starting spot back. Andrew McDonald hails from Indianapolis,IN power house, Warren Central High School. He will provide quality depth at the position, and will be a competitor in training camp.
COMING TOMORROW- TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW PART 2: DEFENSE
Saturday, August 4, 2007