It’s been a tough week on the Indiana football front if you were fans of tailback Nick Turner, tailback Antonio Banks, defensive tackle Marlandez Harris and cornerback Peter St. Fort.
Turner, Banks and Harris all left the program this week. St. Fort was indefinitely suspended after being arrested last weekend for DUI and marijuana possession.
Turner was the biggest surprise departure because coming out of spring practice he was the No. 1 tailback, and had rushed for 157 yards last season. But he got passed on the depth chart by a pair of newcomers -- JUCO transfer Stephen Houston and true freshman D’Angelo Roberts -- plus redshirt freshman Matt Perez. He was moved to safety for a while, put on special teams, then taken off of them. He played running back briefly against Penn State, rushing once for minus-three yards.
Wilson said Turner’s lack of playing time had to do with his practice effort. Wilson, like every coach, is big on that sort of stuff.
“He came in (on Tuesday) and said he didn’t want to play,” Wilson said. “Thought it was a good choice because he hadn’t been practicing hard.”
Wilson said Turner had been “going through the motions” and that he wasn’t physical. He said Turner was a “nice kid” with “good talent” and wished him well.
If you’re counting, that’s five running backs from the Bill Lynch era who have departed in the last nine months, including Darius Willis.
It’s not unusual for players to leave when there’s a coaching change. Sometimes it’s a talent or playing time issue. Sometimes it’s a bad fit -– in other words, somebody doesn’t like somebody.
Wilson is not a warm, fuzzy, “I-love-you-man” coach, which puts him on par with a lot of guys in the profession. He’s demanding and tell-it-like-he-sees-it honest, which some can find abrasive. He has an edge that Lynch did not, and not everybody wants to deal with it.
Let’s face it. No matter who the coach is, life ain’t fun when you’re losing. And with a 1-4 record, the Hoosiers are losing more than they have in a decade, which is saying something given the program’s struggles.
Figure this won’t be the last time a player leaves. You would like to think the exodus would slow once Wilson gets all his players into his system. That will take a few years.
Now, if Wilson-recruited players start leaving, if the losing continues, well, we know how that will turn out.
Oh, for those who gotta have more quarterback news, Ed Wright-Baker is back to practice. Look for Dusty Kiel to start in Saturday’s game against No. 19 Illinois because he’s healthier, but Wright-Baker will play.