Big shoes to fill at receiver for IU football

By Andy Wittry
Published Jan 6, 2014 1:38 am

The IU football team rewrote the program's record books last season. The Hoosiers set records with 461 points scored and 6,102 yards of total offense in 2013. IU also became the first team in Big Ten history to have five 1,000-yard receivers playing together. Despite the frequent changes at quarterback between sophomore Nate Sudfeld and redshirt sophomore Tre Roberson, IU ranked ninth in the FBS in yards per game (508.5 yards/game) thanks to its spread offense and numerous weapons at the skill positions.

With all three quarterbacks returning to a program that has improved its record in each of the past two seasons, IU hopes to finally get over the hump and end its six-year bowl drought next season. While the Hoosier offense did much of the heavy lifting last season, IU has some major voids to fill on the offensive side of the ball. The team will lose more than 52 percent of its yards of offense from last season.

IU graduates running back Stephen Houston, wide receiver Kofi Hughes, wide receiver Duwyce Wilson and tight end Ted Bolser. On Sunday night, junior wide receiver Cody Latimer announced that he will enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

Losing Houston, the most experienced running back on IU's roster last season, hurts IU's depth in its backfield but the Hoosiers will return sophomore Tevin Coleman, a 2013 All-Big Ten honorable mention selection, and junior D'Angelo Roberts, who averaged nearly five yards per carry in the team's final three games.

IU's biggest losses--in terms of both physical size and on-field contributions--are its four departing receivers. Bolser is listed at 6-foot-6, Latimer and Wilson are 6-foot-3 and Hughes stands at 6-foot-2. Latimer, Hughes and Bolser were three of the Hoosiers' top four receivers last season in terms of receptions. Along with Wilson and Houston's 2013 statistics, the group combined for 2,435 of IU's 3,680 receiving yards last season, or 66.2 percent. They also accounted for 180 of the team's 279 receptions (64.5 percent) and 22 of IU's 36 receiving touchdowns (61.1 percent).

When taking inventory of the Hoosiers' returning options at receiver, IU has the agile 5-foot-7, 160-pound Shane Wynn, 6-foot-1 speedster Nick Stoner, 5-foot-11 slot receiver Isaiah "Zeke" Roundtree, Coleman and Roberts out of the backfield and a host of unproven wide receivers. The Hoosiers lack a physically imposing, experienced receiver who provides a big target for IU's quarterbacks and who can take advantage of smaller defensive backs on a consistent basis.

IU has a solid foundation on offense with three experienced quarterbacks, its entire offensive line and an All-Big Ten caliber running back returning next season, but it remains to be seen who will step up in the passing game to replace some of the most accomplished receivers in program history.

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