As spring practice comes to a close for IU football, several transfer players have stepped up as the team looks to replace key contributors and improve off last year’s historic 6-2 season.
One newcomer garnering attention from coaches and teammates this spring is graduate wide receiver D.J. Matthews, a transfer from Florida State University.
Matthews, ranked as the No. 42 high school recruit in the nation by 247Sports in 2017, was named Offensive Player of the Day in his first spring practice with IU.
“The attention to detail that he had on stuff that he’d never done with us before was pretty impressive,” wide receivers coach Grant Heard said. “So that just showed me a lot, that it was important to him, and that he really does want to be great.”
“He’s a twitch guy, he’s a real fast and electric guy, elusive,” junior defensive back Reese Taylor said. “You gotta make sure that you come with your A-game every time you guard him.”
With wide receiver Whop Philyor headed to the NFL, Matthews could play at slot receiver in 2021 next to now-fifth year senior Ty Fryfogle, similar to Philyor’s previous role.
“I don’t like to make comparisons to players. Whop was an exceptional player for us and contributed significantly to our success here, and we wish him the very, very best and are thankful for his contributions,” offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said. “D.J. is looking to create that role for himself, just like the rest of the players on the team.”
Graduate defensive lineman Ryder Anderson, a transfer from the University of Mississippi, was named the Defensive Player of the Day in his first practice. Ole Miss defeated IU 26-20 in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2.
After playing both on the inside and outside of the defensive line for Ole Miss, Anderson is prepared to contribute to an IU defense that finished fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense and fifth in total defense a season ago.
“Talking to the coaches and talking to the guys, I just feel like I’m just fitting a piece of the puzzle. That was a big reason for me wanting to come here,” Anderson said. “I’m towards the end of my collegiate career. I didn’t necessarily want to go somewhere where we’re starting from scratch.”
With 2020 starting center Harry Crider declaring for the NFL Draft in January, freshman offensive lineman Zach Carpenter, a transfer from conference foe Michigan, will have a chance to take over for Crider at the position.
Carpenter started at center for the Wolverines in their final two games of the season in 2020 and appeared in five of their six games in his first collegiate season.
As a newcomer, Carpenter says he is ready to both play and be a leader on the offensive line.
“I’ve always seen myself as a leader,” Carpenter said. “I think, definitely, getting some Big Ten playing experience also is beneficial to that, as well. Obviously, there’s no fans, but I’m confident that even if there is I’ll be able to lead that offensive line out there.”