Written By Sammy Jacobs
The tight end position was a major key to the success the Hoosiers had on offense in 2015, despite injuries and moving tackle Brandon Knight to tight end for the majority of the season. Indiana will enter spring practice with three healthy tight ends in Danny Friend, Jordan Fuchs, and Austin Dorris. IU will have to replace the production of Michael Cooper (17 catches, 205 yards, 2 TDs) and Anthony Corsoro (10 catches 142 yards) on and off the field.
Returning From Injury
The Hoosiers were decimated by injury at the tight end position, which forced freshman Brandon Knight to switch to the position before the Penn State game. Danny Friend will be returning from a torn quad muscle, while Jordan Fuchs was hampered with lower body injuries most of the year.
Danny Friend, who will be a redshirt junior, was a major reason why the Hoosiers running game got off to such a torrid start in the non-conference slate (190.25 YPG). Friend also added 39 yards on three catches, but he is not the best pass catcher of the bunch and will probably be a secondary option unless Fuchs or Dorris don’t produce. His strength is in his skills blocking in the run game. As long as Friend stays healthy, which has been an issue in the past, it will allow Brandon Knight to move back to tackle.
The other tight end that figures to be back healthy and be a major contributor is junior-to-be Jordan Fuchs. At six-foot-six, Fuchs has ideal height for a great pass catching tight end, but at 233-pounds he is build more like a big wide receiver which makes it harder for him to block defensive linemen. However, his size is can be a major advantage in the passing game. Fuchs is too big to be guarded by the average safety and too fast for linebackers to keep up with. We could see Fuchs line up tight or in the slot and could give the Hoosiers a “Big” receiver look that could create match-up problems for the opponent. In limited action in 2015, Fuchs had four catches for 38 yards and two scores.
Enter The Redshirt
When redshirt freshman Austin Dorris committed to Indiana as part of the 2015 signing class, he turned heads as a six-foot-five quarterback who was running around, through, and by people. Dorris was brought in to play tight end and is talent and athleticism is intriguing. Dorris has drawn comparisons to former IU tight end Ted Bolser and could be the wild card of this group. Spring practice will be extremely important for Dorris to prove himself worthy as he will get a ton of reps before two more tight ends come in for fall camp. Dorris could be an excellent red zone target for the offense and would make tight end a position of real depth.