Written By Alex Compton
Now that spring ball has concluded, it is time to shift our focus to the start of the season. While spring ball can’t always tell you much about how your team will look in the fall, but for IU this year it did tell us a lot about what the depth chart will likely look like next year. Barring any injuries or unforeseen scheme changes, the top one and two guys are set at almost every position. While it wasn’t one of Coach Wilson’s highest ranked classes, the 2016 class includes some impact players that will challenge for those spots on the depth chart when they step on campus this summer. Let’s take a look those players in “Hoosier Army ‘16” that could challenge current Hoosiers for roster spots this fall.
Jonah Morris, WR
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, four-star athlete Jonah Morris decommitted from Michigan State to eventually end up as an Indiana signee. As the consensus top-rated player in IU’s 2016 class, Morris checks in at 6’4” and 196lbs, and possesses both the skill and natural ability to thrive in Indiana’s offense. There is little doubt that he will be a really special player for IU down the road, but he already figures to be in the mix for catches in his freshman year.
The three best receivers for IU are Simmie Cobbs, Ricky Jones, and Mitchell Paige. They were the top three last year, and they will almost certainly be the top three this year. Behind those three, however, is where things begin to get interesting. You have guys like Nick Westbrook, J-Shun Harris, Luke Timian, and Marquis Hawkins (to name a few) who have all proven to be more than capable of producing. One or more of these guys is going to have to step up and become the top target behind those three, so that opposing defenses can’t just sit on the run when a combination of Cobbs, Jones and Paige is off the field. This is where I see Morris making his mark as a freshman. With the size and explosiveness necessary to make a variety of plays, Morris will see lots of snaps playing on both the outside and inside as a receiver. Factor in his ability to run with the ball, and giving him some jet sweeps would not be out of the question either. The versatility that Morris provides as a 6’4” speedster makes him a great candidate to shake up the depth chart at WR.
Brandon Drayton, S
A one-time Nebraska commit, Florida safety Brandon Drayton came to IU as a three-star prospect. With great size for a safety at 6’2” and 175lbs, he will come in to camp with a body ready for college. While it won’t give him an edge up on the field, it will allow him to spend more time learning the playbook and watching film. This is where he will be able to slide his way up the depth chart. Add in the fact that he was teammates with starting sophomore safety Jonathan Crawford, and it seems likely that Drayton will push for snaps.
During the spring game, the two starting safeties were the aforementioned Crawford, and junior Tony Fields. While Fields may not start throughout the course of the entire season, it would be a shock if Crawford were a backup at any point during the upcoming year. He was stellar as a freshman last year, and is on the verge of becoming a star. Behind Fields and Crawford, you have Chase Dutra and Jameel Cook returning from injury, as well as guys like Kiante Walton and Mario Swann back with another year of experience. Junior College transfer Jayme Thompson figured to battle for snaps at safety as well, but so far defensive coordinator Tom Allen appears to be using him more at the “Husky” position that he loves so much. With his size and playmaking ability, Drayton is a guy that fits the playmaker mold that Tom Allen looks for. He reads the field extremely well for such a young player, and the exceptional speed he possesses on his first step allows him to fly to the ball. I would imagine he starts the season off with a limited number of snaps, but will end up as a regular sub at safety because he will make plays for a defense that needs to make more of them.
Kiante Enis, RB
With an injury to half of the two-headed running back monster (Camion Patrick), there are suddenly a solid amount of snaps at running back up for grabs. The guys behind the now clear-cut number one back Devine Redding looked up to the challenge during the spring game, but none of the other ball carriers are quite like Enis. A former Michigan commit, Enis came to IU as a three-star prospect out of Winchester, Indiana. Checking in at 6’1” and 200lbs, he is the biggest back besides Redding, which automatically gives him a slight edge in my opinion. He runs very well in a zone scheme, and this should translate beautifully to IU’s system. Incredible lateral quickness and the ability to take on tacklers in the hole have made Enis a tough matchup all throughout his football career, and should continue to do so as he transitions to the next level.
With the skill to contribute right away, the real determinant of the amount of snaps he will see ultimately comes down to the level of familiarity he has with the offense. Returnees Mike Majette, Alex Rodriguez and Ricky Brookins all have a good deal of experience coming out of the backfield, while Enis and former cornerback Devonte Williams have none. If Enis can get a solid grasp on the playbook and learn some of the nuances that go along with blocking and reading defenses, I believe he can become the #2 back as a freshman. He is the most talented of the group behind Redding, and this talent will allow Enis to separate himself from the pack as the season goes on. This summer will be huge for all of the freshmen, but Enis especially. A good camp could lead to him seeing a great deal of playing time this year, while a disappointing camp could lead to a redshirt. I would expect the former.
Others Who May Also See The Field
- Allen Stallings, DE
- Tyler Natee RB/TE
- Cole Gest RB
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