Saturday, August 28, 2010

One IU Freshman Likely To Play In Season Opener

Indiana has 24 true football freshmen and only one has a real chance of playing against Towson in Thursday night’s season opener.

Can you guess who it is?

Here’s a hint -– he has a cast on his hand and he still might play.

Remember this Bill Lynch program rule –- true freshmen generally don’t play unless they’re going to start or play a whole bunch.

Consider the leading candidates. Linebacker Chase Hoobler was in the mix in training camp, and at 6-2 and 225 pounds, is probably physically mature enough to handle it. However, IU’s linebacker depth likely means he won’t play unless there’s a bunch of injuries. Right now, all the veterans are healthy.

“I’m not sure we’ll go with Hoobler because of the depth at linebacker,” Lynch said, “but things can change with injuries.”

Running back Matt Perez put up big numbers at Maine South High School in Illinois. In his last two years he rushed for 3,393 yards and 56 touchdowns. He added an Illinois Class 8A record by rushing for 316 yards and five TDs in the championship game. He is 5-11 and 200 with good speed. His Hoosier prospects are bright, but veterans Darius Willis, Tre Burgess, Nick Turner and Zach Davis-Walker are ahead of him.

Another running back, Antonio Banks, enrolled in school last January and participated in spring ball. But the 5-11, 200 pounder has been a little banged up and that leaves immediate playing time in question.

The plan right now is to let them get some practice work this week and see how healthy the veteran running backs are come Thursday. Given the pounding running backs take, health is always a concern.

“We’ll probably rotate (Banks and Perez) to give them a taste in practice,” Lynch said.

So who does that leave as far as freshman candidates? Try Kofi Hughes. He was a quarterback in high school, but he’s a receiver at IU good enough to get consideration at the Hoosiers’ best position.

Yeah, that says a lot about his potential.

“Kofi is the one freshman who will practice up,” Lynch said. “We felt that way when we recruited him. He is an outstanding player and has proven that. He’s playing wide receiver with a cast on his hand, which is obviously not the ideal situation. We’ll find out how that is going to play itself out.”

The 6-2, 200-pound Hughes’ extreme athleticism gives him a playing chance. At Indianapolis Cathedral he was a do-it-all quarterback. He threw for 1,584 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,552 yards and 22 TDs.

This kind of versatility is what drew IU coaches. Wide receiver is a position a true freshman can make an impact because size and strength aren’t as crucial as they are at other positions.

Injuries at receiver will likely be the deciding factor if Hughes plays this season, but one thing is for certain -– he is the kind of improved recruit the Hoosiers have landed in recent years, and that likely will make a huge difference in IU’s quest to return to bowl relevance.

The other freshmen will likely redshirt and play on the scout team, which basically means pretending to be the key players on the opposing team of the week. That approach, Lynch said, is the best way to develop the Hoosiers into consistent bowl contenders.

1 comment:

  1. a bit confused that it went from likely to play to only if there's injuries at WR.

    Glad to hear that he's talented enough to raise the question of playing early given the depth at WR.