Wilson likes recruiting quarterbacks because of their demeanor. He likes signing players who have dealt with the pressures and stresses of playing with the ball in their hands and the team on their back.
That’s why six of IU’s 22 class of 2015 signees have experience playing quarterback. It’s a strategy Wilson picked up from Randy Walker that former IU Coach Bill Mallory used.
When Wilson goes on the recruiting trail, he’s watching for quarterbacks. Even if he’s recruiting for tight ends.
“You can’t hide. The ball is in your hands,” Wilson said. “I call it, ‘he’s the guy,’ and he has to be accountable for his performance on a weekly basis.”
Although Wilson signed six former quarterbacks, he anticipates only Georgia’s Austin King and Florida’s Donavan Hale will take snaps in Bloomington.
They’ll join junior Nate Sudfeld, freshmen Zander Diamont and Chris Covington, and three others.
Sudfeld is projected to return to his starting role after missing the final six games of 2014 with a separated ?shoulder.
Wilson said Sudfeld is doing nearly everything in practice but still has limited flexibility in his left shoulder.
King, like Sudfeld, is a projected pocket-passer. King looks to be an option to replace Sudfeld and will be among seven others competing for the backup job.
IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns applauded King’s arm strength and spoke highly of his winning pedigree in high school.
In an ideal world, King would take a redshirt this season behind a healthy Sudfeld and then compete for a starting job as a redshirt freshman.
But as IU found out last season, that scenario is far from a guarantee.
“We’ll feed him as much as we can early and see what he can handle,” Johns said.
Donovan Hale, the second new addition at quarterback, is a dual-threat pass thrower who was initially projected at wide receiver by recruiting analysts.
Wilson confirmed Hale will start out as a quarterback, but he was open to change if necessary.
“His frame says if he’s not a quarterback, he might be a tight end or outside linebacker,” Wilson said. “He’s going to be a Chris Covington-sized kid. A very comparable body — very raw.”
Covington himself came to IU as a linebacker but was converted to quarterback in fall camp. He suffered an ACL injury in the same game Sudfeld was injured, which cut his season short.
Covington, who Wilson said is applying for a medical redshirt exemption, will remain a quarterback for now. It wouldn’t make sense to move him in spring camp, as he’s still unable to participate in full-contact drills, Wilson said. At quarterback, he won’t be hit.
Unlike Covington, freshman Zeke Walker will return as a defensive back after moving to quarterback as an emergency option last year.
All of the moving parts and injuries makes for a slightly confusing situation at quarterback after last year’s turmoil at the position.
Behind Sudfeld, IU has a number of both tested and untested options at quarterback with potential redshirts still uncertain.
The depth chart will likely remain murky until after the Hoosiers’ April 18 spring game. Even then, it could be shaken up once the to-be freshmen arrive in June.
But after what IU went through last season, too many quarterbacks might be a good problem to have.
“To me, you just want those guys to work hard and let it play out because you have flexibility,” Wilson said. “We have a group of six, we’ll have eight of them. We’ll figure it out. If it’s worth redshirting those guys, we will.”