Written By Alex Compton (@alexncompton)
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: #87- MICHAEL ZIEMBA
Weight: 245 pounds
Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida
Position: Defensive End
While most schools recruited Michael Ziemba as a tight end coming out of High School, Mark Hagen identified him as a potential contributor on defense and recruited him to play that side of the ball at IU instead. Although athletic enough to be ranked by ESPN as the #23 tight end in the class nationally, many people around the program figured Ziemba would be a redshirt candidate in his first season in Bloomington. While he didn’t make much of an immediate impact on defense as a true freshman, Ziemba was all over the field during a total of 10 games in 2017, mixing in some on the D-Line while playing a large amount of snaps on special teams.
In those 10 games, Ziemba only managed to rack up 4 tackles, but the experience he gained in those games should pay off in 2018 for the defense. He is a guy that could make a solid jump in terms of production right out of the gate in this upcoming season, but it all comes down to summer camp and how much he progresses in said camp. What Ziemba brings to the table at the bare minimum is a big, strong, athletic body, and that is likely why he factored into the equation right away last year as a true freshman. To get on the field more this year, he will have to improve his pass rushing abilities to help keep bodies fresh in that rotation. There are some questions on the edge of the defensive line this year, as guys like Nile Sykes and Jacob Robinson will be asked to shoulder much of the expected production from the defensive ends. If Ziemba could step into more of a production-type role, that would add another solid piece to a fairly deep line, but fairly inexperienced group of D-Ends heading into this season. Let’s hope he can emerge in summer ball, as him stepping up would be a big help to IU on defense this year.
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: #87- JACK CARDILLO
Weight: 165 pounds
Hometown: Evergreen, Colorado
Year: Redshirt Freshman
With the departure of Griffin Oakes from the program, the situation at kicker is pretty interesting heading into 2018. Coach Allen brought in Tennessee recruit Charles Campbell, who was an Army All-American in 2017, and he has a pretty good shot at starting. Logan Justus also has a good chance at starting, and the battle will likely come down to those two. You never know with kicking however, and that is why it’s important to have some depth at the position. Cardillo walked on during the season and redshirted, so he will have four seasons of eligibility left. He just recently started kicking interestingly enough, so with some years of practice under his belt in the coming seasons, it’ll be interesting to see if he ever gets some game action for IU.
Here’s his official bio from IUHoosiers.com: "Punter and kicker for head coach David Leake at Evergreen High School ... all-conference punter ... made 6-of-7 field goals and did not miss an extra point ... one-year football and two-year soccer letter winner ... four-year member of the club hockey team ... played soccer his first three years, quit to join the football team as a wide receiver and took over as the team’s punter and kicker (final 3 games)”.
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