Indiana Daily Student

IU football running backs coach Deland McCullough brings familiarity with walk-ons

IU football associate head coach and running backs coach Deland McCullough speaks to the media Friday. McCullough said he is encouraged by the team's walk-on running backs at the press conference.
IU football associate head coach and running backs coach Deland McCullough speaks to the media Friday. McCullough said he is encouraged by the team's walk-on running backs at the press conference.

In his last stint at IU, Deland McCullough was known for being able to get production out of walk-on running backs. 

Those previous running backs included Isaiah Roundtree, Anthony Davis and Andrew Wilson. Some of whom, such as Wilson, would go on to earn scholarships. McCullough says he sees similar, encouraging traits in the team’s current walk-ons.

“Hunger, understanding and attention to detail, capturing the moment,” McCullough said in a press conference Friday. “You know, that when your time comes you’ve gotta make it happen.”

Wilson finished his time at IU with a touchdown against Purdue in an Old Oaken Bucket win, and the team’s current group will seek similar opportunities under McCullough.

“There are several walk-ons that are very talented players, that have come here, have just busted their tails, earned the right,” head coach Tom Allen said.

Allen is looking for running backs to be involved in special teams as well, he said during media day Thursday.

“Those guys are 200 pound-ish guys that can run. Should be some of your best football players on the football team,” Allen said.

Junior running back Davion Ervin-Poindexter, who was named one of two recipients of IU’s Chris Beaty Outstanding Walk-On Player of the Year in 2020, was able get more reps with the team last spring due to injuries, McCullough said. 

McCullough said one of Ervin-Poindexter’s best traits is his dependability.

“That’s a guy that, you know, he's gonna be able to do all the things you need for him to do at a particular level,” McCullough said.

Beyond Ervin-Poindexter, Mccullough said that the team has to evaluate the rest of the room as well, such as with redshirt freshman Charlie Spegal.

Spegal, who was named Indiana’s Mr. Football and Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019, joined the team in 2020.

“I like what I see as far as, even in the spring, don’t nobody wanna tackle the guy, that’s a good quality to have,” McCullough said.

With Spegal, McCullough wanted to see him play with more urgency and more detail while also wanting to see him be more expressive, all of which McCullough says Spegal has done. 

Junior running back Chris Childers, who transferred to IU from Indiana State University before the 2020 season, hasn’t seen any playing time at IU, but McCullough says he has been showing up for the team in camp.

McCullough said that the group has to be ready for their time to come, but they won’t receive the actual opportunity unless they prove themselves to him and he becomes confident in their play. 

“Once they get my confidence, it’s my job to put them in a position to get the offensive coordinator and the head coaches’ confidence,” McCullough said.

Neither the team nor McCullough know what’ll happen with the group as of now regarding playing time, but he said he is encouraged with the group so far.

“It’ll never be, as far as I’m concerned, a guy under me whether he’s a scholarship or a walk-on guy who say ‘Coach McCullough ain’t give me an opportunity to show what I got,’” McCullough said.

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