Countdown to Kickoff: 7 Days (Donovan Clark and Nate Sudfeld)

 Nate Sudfeld is back at QB and there are no more excuses for the Hoosiers entering 2015.  Image: ESPN.com

Nate Sudfeld is back at QB and there are no more excuses for the Hoosiers entering 2015. Image: ESPN.com

Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)

#7

One week ladies and gentlemen, only one week until the Indiana Hoosiers kick-off the season against the Southern Illinois Salukis. The Hoosiers have worked all offseason to get ready for the 2015 season and their quest for a bowl game starts next Saturday. Seven days away means we are examining the players wearing the number 7, defensive back Donovan Clark and starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld.

Donovan Clark

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 180 pounds
  • Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN/South Side High School
  • Year/Position: Sophomore/Defensive Back

Defensive back is a position of concern for IU. Not because the players competing for playing time lack talent or athleticism but because the players competing for playing time lack experience. One of the few guys with a bit of previous college football playing time is Indiana-native Donovan Clark.

Clark starred as a defensive back and running back at South Side High School in Fort Wayne and earned all-area and all-conference honors during his senior season. He ran for 744 yards with seven touchdowns, caught nine passes and threw a TD pass. His all-around play spurred Rivals.com to rank him as the number 11 prospect in the state in his class and he chose to play at Indiana over offers from Ball State, Bowling Green and a host of other MAC schools. Clark surprised many by playing in all 12 games as a freshman in 2014. He garnered 17 tackles with one pass breakup and tied for the team lead with six stops in the North Texas game.

During the spring, Clark talked with the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel what was different about his upcoming sophomore season. “I’m just more comfortable,” Clark told the News-Sentinel. “Last year I was thinking the game. I feel like each year I’ll grow in the film room and on the field, so I can play faster and make more plays.”

A sore back limited Clark throughout the spring but he was expected to be 100% by August. However, the sore back has lingered and Clark, once expected to be a primary competitor for a starting corner position, is now looking like a possible redshirt candidate.

“We’re still gonna be very tender with his (Clark’s) back,” Wilson told Hoosier Huddle and other reporters on the first day of fall camp. “I don’t know if we’ll have his services this year.”

Donovan Clark’s back injury might end up costing him his 2015 season. On the plus side, the injury isn’t considered career-threatening and he showed during 2014 that he is capable of having a positive impact when healthy. Still, the injury is bad news for Clark and it will be a blow to an IU secondary that is looking for the right mix of guys to form an adequate pass defense.

Nate Sudfeld

  • Height: 6’6”
  • Weight: 240 pounds
  • Hometown: Modesto, California/ Modesto Christian
  • Year/Position: Senior/QB

The second player we examine today needs very little introduction. The most well-known player on this roster is undoubtedly number 7, starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld. The senior enters the 2015 season ranked second in program history in completion percentage (60.6%), tied for second in 300-yard games (four), fifth in passing touchdowns (34) and eighth in passing yardage (4,306). He’s accomplished all of this in only 14 career starts and 25 career appearances. As we know, he’s returning to action from a shoulder injury that cost him the second half of the 2014 season and fatally wounded IU’s chances at a bowl game. But before we look at what he’s hoping to accomplish in 2015, let’s retrace his steps to figure out how one of IU’s best quarterbacks in recent memory got to this spot.

Nate Sudfeld was a standout quarterback at Modesto Christian High School, throwing for 2,332 yards with 31 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Sudfeld set single-season school records in passing yards, passing TDs and passing yards per game and was named the team’s most valuable player. His play earned him the number 14 ranking for quarterbacks nationally. Sudfeld also excelled off the field where he was a member of the National Honor Society member and took two mission trips to Uganda (as a 14-year old and on Spring Break in 2015). He’s definitely not the only successful football player in the family as his brothers have also played college football (one was a wide receiver at Brown University while the other is now a tight end for the New York Jets). He originally committed to Arizona but followed coordinator Seth Littrell to Bloomington when Littrell was hired by IU. The preceding was all a long way of saying that Nate Sudfeld, before ever accomplishing anything at IU, was a highly-successful individual, both on and off the field that comes from a very driven family.

Sudfeld arrived at Indiana in the fall of 2012 and immediately impressed. He appeared in seven games during the season and threw for 632 yards with seven touchdowns and was named to the BTN.com All-Big Ten Freshman team as an honorable mention selection. His sophomore campaign was even more productive as he started eight games and appeared in all 12. Sudfeld threw for 2,523 yards with 21 touchdowns and a passer efficiency rating of 142.0. After the season, both Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson opted to transfer and the quarterback position was now Sudfeld’s alone.

The passing attack struggled out of the gate as Sudfeld attempted to find a rhythm with a young and inexperienced receiving corps. Still, there were some great successes. The junior gunslinger lit up the Bowling Green Falcons for 347 yards and a career-high two rushing touchdowns. He also helped lead the Hoosiers to a stunning upset of eventual SEC East champion Missouri. However, in the sixth game of the season against Iowa, Nate Sudfeld was slammed on his shoulder and his season was over. He ended up throwing for 1,151 yards with a completion percentage of 60.5%. Despite a historic season from Tevin Coleman, IU’s offense sputtered without Sudfeld and the Hoosiers were left with a disappointing 4-8 record.

Entering his final season in Bloomington, Sudfeld can significantly move up the rankings in a number of school records. Antwaan Randle El holds the record for most passing yards (7,469) and Sudfeld would need a monster year to catch him but he will most likely move into the top five in every meaningful quarterback statistic. The more important thing for Sudfeld and his teammates though will be whether or not the Hoosiers can reach a bowl game for the first time in Kevin Wilson’s tenure. Nate Sudfeld doesn’t want to leave IU without a bowl appearance. We will all begin to find out whether or not the senior QB and his teammates can get to six wins in just seven short days.

The season is almost here! Keep coming back to Hoosier Huddle as we complete our countdown and provide you with the most comprehensive IU football coverage around