The “TE Bros” of 2015 did a little bit of everything for the Hoosiers.
Michael Cooper finished fourth in receptions and receiving yards for IU, also finding the end zone twice, and was as reliable force as a blocker. Now, after catching ball from Nate Sudfeld and opening holes on the edge for Jordan Howard and others, he’s in NFL training camp with the Washington Redskins.
Injury problems may have limited the production of recent graduate Anthony Corsaro and current juniors Danny Friend and Jordan Fuchs, but they too could be counted on in both running and passing situations when their health allowed it. Fuchs only had four catches in 2015, but two of them ended with him celebrating touchdowns in the end zone.
Even sophomore Brandon Knight answered the call. Knight is slated to start at left tackle in 2016, but when injuries necessitated he fill in against Purdue in the season finale he took his one reception into the end zone as he helped IU keep a firm hold on the Old Oaken Bucket.
With Cooper and Corsaro gone and Knight on the offensive line, it will be up to Friend and Fuchs to carry the group’s bravado into the new year.
They certainly don’t lack size. Friend stands at 6-5, 265, and Fuchs at 6-6, 235. But, they have yet to be called upon to lead their position group.
IU Coach Kevin Wilson has floated junior college transfer Ian Thomas and incoming freshmen Shaun Bonner as candidates for playing time as well.
Thomas, a junior, was one of the top-rated available tight ends in the junior college ranks and brings a size to the table similar to that of Friend’s. In eight games at Nassau Community College in New York, where he was a team captain, he caught 23 balls for 433 yards and three touchdowns and led the Northeast Football Conference with 18.8 yards per reception.
Bonner comes to Bloomington a winner, capturing back-to-back state titles at Colquitt County High School in Georgia. But, Wilson announced at Big Ten Media Days Bonner had to have his knee scoped and is now questionable as to whether or not he’ll play or receive a redshirt.
If Friend and Fuchs continue to struggle with staying healthy, freshman Austin Dorris and sophomore Ryan Watercutter are available. Both Dorris and Watercutter spent time on the scout team in 2015, with Dorris recognized once and Watercutter twice as a scout team player of the week.
Watercutter had been a linebacker for the Hoosiers until switching to tight end during spring ball. He played on both sides of the ball in high school.
84 Danny Friend, 6-5, 265, Redshirt Junior
81 Jordan Fuchs, 6-6, 235, Junior