Thursday was a tumultuous day for coach Kevin Wilson and the Hoosier football program to say the very least. It wasn’t just one problem that the program encountered, as bad news seemingly came in all day.
In the afternoon the program announced that cornerback Antonio Marshall had been dismissed from the team for an “undisclosed violation of team rules.” Marshall was one of the few experienced bright spots returning for Indiana on the defensive side of the football in 2013. The corner started the last seven games of last season, while hauling in two interceptions. He was an obvious starter heading into his senior season. While the program has promising talent waiting in the wings in the secondary, they are losing a player who brings experience off a defense that was the worst in the Big Ten last year. This was not what defensive coordinator Doug Mallory had in mind as an exciting start to camp.
In further news, Indiana revealed officially that 2013 commits Maurice Swain and Taj Williams would not be enrolling at the university or be a part of the football team due to academics. It was already a widely held belief that Swain, a three-star, 330-pound, defensive tackle out of the peach state would be heading to junior college.
The news about Williams on the other hand had been a bit more of a surprise. The Florida native committed to the Hoosiers late in the process after favoring Auburn through much of his recruitment. The four-star recruit also had offers from programs such as Clemson, Alabama, and Florida. The wide out was a part of the top-247 nationally as he checked in as the 243rd best player according to the 247Composite.
While all three of these departures hurt, they are to varying degrees. The biggest hit is obviously the dismissal of Marshall. He was supposed to be a senior starting cornerback for a defense that needs all the help it can get. To lose a tent pole in the secondary as camp opens is a major blow.
As far as the two signees go, I have to believe that Swain is the bigger loss for Indiana. While Williams was the more highly regarded recruit coming in, he played a position in which there is both talent and depth on the Hoosier roster. It is the exact opposite at defensive tackle where Swain will not be able to add to the rotation. While it is unsure whether or not Swain would have received playing time this coming season, he would have been an additional massive body added to the mix.
In related news, Indiana also revealed that signee Daryl Chestnut will be a part of the 105-man roster, but will not be reporting for camp, as he must complete his academic requirements. Chestnut is a three-star running back out of Miami, Florida. While this does not seem to be as serious as the situations with the other incoming players, the fact remains that it’s another player entering the program having academic issues.
While it is understandable that a program struggling to bring in top-level talent will go after some questionable type players, you have to wonder where the tipping point is. Sure it great in theory to bring in more and more three and four-star type talent, but if you have to weight the negatives. You are effectively losing a year of experience no matter if the player you originally signed actually comes to campus or you roll that scholarship over to the next class. In addition those recruiting man-hours have been wasted on multiple recruits that did not qualify that instead, could have been used towards bringing a different player into the fold.
Thursday was an ugly day for Indiana football, even a black eye for the program. How the team and coaches respond to the adversity will tell us more about this team than the news of the day.