IU is looking to reach back-to-back bowl games in 2016 and prove itself a worthy competitor in the Big Ten. With the season opener about a month away, it’s time to take a look at what each position may have to offer.
The build-up to the 2015 season was filled with speculation on whether or not the power of Jordan Howard could make up for the lost speed of Tevin Coleman. Now, after Coleman and Howard were drafted into the NFL in back-to-back years, it’s about whether or not the IU running back train will ever slow down.
Howard and now junior Devine Redding answered Coleman’s 2,036-yard season in 2014 with a combined 2,225 yards in 2015 as both surpassed 1,000 yards. Howard ended the year with 201 more yards on the ground than Redding, but latter showed that he would be ready to take the reins when Howard departed for the pros.
Still, it won’t just be Redding in the backfield demanding carries.
IU running backs coach Deland McCullough has had no problem developing his position group as his stars garner national recognition. Sophomore Mike Majette was third on the team in rushing last year and can provide IU Coach Kevin Wilson with a nice change of pace.
Majette and Redding combined for 182 yards in the loss to Rutgers while Howard sat out due to injury.
Sophomores Ricky Brookins and Alex Rodriguez also provide the Hoosiers with some experience from a season ago. Both earned some name recognition with certain performances, Brookins breaking out for a 40-yard run against Purdue on his way to 64 yards on seven carries and Rodriguez finding the end zone in the back-and-forth bowl game loss to Duke.
Some newcomers will certainly vie for playing time too.
Wilson’s prized junior college transfer and junior Camion Patrick, ineligible in 2015 due to an academic issue, came to IU as a wide receiver but instead found a place with McCullough’s group. He will hope to be back in the mix come Big Ten play, barring any set backs, as he is still recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of much of spring ball.
Freshman Devonte Williams moved from cornerback to running back during spring ball and could factor right away. Williams saw time at corner in 2015 but received a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending injury. He finished his high school career as school’s all-time leading rusher.
Incoming freshmen Cole Gest and Kiante Enis have a lot of talent, so much so that Wilson was hesitant to broach the subject of redshirting them in 2016 when asked at Big Ten Media Days.
Close yardage situations that necessitate a bruiser could give freshman Tyler Natee, who’s a tank at 6-feet, 260 pounds, and senior Clyde Newton carries. Newton may have spent all 37 games of his IU career at linebacker, but he wanted a shot on offense and Wilson is willing to give it to him.
Newton isn’t completely new to the position though. He played running back and linebacker at Charlotte High School in Florida.
Six running backs had at least 12 carries in 2015, don’t be surprised to see similar numbers in 2016.
34 Devine Redding, 5-10, 208, Junior
24 Mike Majette, 5-11, 207, Sophomore
Previously Addressed Positions: