Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
The countdown rolls on as we reach #37! Today, we preview the first running back of our series. The injury to Nate Sudfeld forced the Hoosiers to lean heavily on the running game. Tevin Coleman had a tremendous season and D’Angelo Roberts finished off a good career with a solid senior season. Both of those players are gone and there is an opportunity for carries in 2015. Redshirt freshman Alex Rodriguez is hoping to earn a few of those carries after impressing during spring practices.
· Height: 5’10”
· Weight: 225 pounds
· Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (Lawrence Central High School)
· Year/Position: RS Freshman/RB
Alex Rodriguez played running back at Lawrence Central High School, a school in Indianapolis that has experienced a lot of recent success. Former Hoosier Tre Roberson led the Bears to a state title and current Hoosier Tim Gardner excelled as an offensive lineman for head coach Jayson West. During his senior season, Rodriguez ran for 1,303 rushing yards with 21 touchdowns and 333 receiving yards. His play earned him a spot on the Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 list and a place on the all-state team.
Rodriguez walked-on to the IU program during the 2014 season and redshirted so he enters 2015 as a redshirt freshman. During his redshirt season, he earned scout team player of the week honors for the Michigan State game. Rodriguez wasn’t a name most knew but an injury to Jordan Howard during spring practice opened the door for him to show what he is capable of. He impressed reporters who were watching on multiple occasions and shined in the spring game by rushing for 63 yards and showcasing his power as a between the tackles runner.
Head coach Kevin Wilson was complimentary of Rodriguez after a practice this past spring, “He’s not a super-fast guy, he’s right at 4.6, ran about high 4.5’s for us, but he’s a load, he’s very, very strong, very, very explosive.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Johns also offered some praise after the spring game when asked if the injury to Howard was frustrating, “I don’t know if it’s frustrating, I think that it just gives someone else an opportunity to prove themselves. And guys did, Alex Rodriguez did and Rickey Brookins did. Some guys stepped up.”
Jordan Howard will probably be the Hoosiers #1 RB and everyone expects for sophomore Devine Redding to be the primary back-up. However, IU’s up-tempo offense requires more than just a pair of running backs. For instance, Devine Redding was the third back in 2014 and he ran the ball 29 times during the season. So there is an opportunity for a third back (and perhaps even fourth back) to grab a few important carries every game. Rodriguez is just a walk-on but he has positioned himself to be in the competition (along with Andrew Wilson, Ricky Brookins and Tommy Mister) for those carries. At the very least, expect to see this explosive runner used occasionally on special teams.
The Hoosier Huddle countdown continues tomorrow as we reach #36. Come back daily to read (and comment on) all of our preseason coverage. We’ll continue to provide you with game previews, throwback recaps, recruiting coverage and our Top 5 opposition pieces.