Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
2019 Countdown - #90
The 2019 Countdown to Kickoff is seeing its last day in the 90’s! We are moving right along and the two Hoosiers we are focusing on today are kicker Jared Smolar and defensive lineman Connor Schneider.
Name – Jared Smolar
Position – Kicker (RS Junior)
Hometown – Valparaiso, Indiana (Valparaiso)
Height – 6’3”
Weight – 284
Jared Smolar has played three seasons of Big Ten football, two with the Hoosiers (redshirted in 2017) and one with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Valparaiso native moved closer to home after playing in three games with Rutgers in 2016 where he booted 21 kickoffs with zero touchbacks.
After sitting out in 2017, Smolar became the Hoosiers kickoff specialist in 2018 as Tom Allen and special teams coordinator William Inge wanted to save wear and tear on the legs of their kickers by splitting field goals and kickoffs. Smolar started the year well as he had 19 touchbacks on 34 kickoffs (four of those kickoffs were in a monsoon against Virginia) over the first six games. The second half was unkind to the Hoosier kicker as he would boot only four touchbacks over the final six games. It is no coincidence that IU’s kickoff coverage struggled down the stretch because of the lack of power behind his kicks.
With Charles Campbell ready to roll as a redshirt freshman and Logan Justus back after a stellar junior campaign, Smolar has to improve his leg strength and consistency if he wants to hold on to his job as the kickoff specialist, it’s really hard to see IU using three kickers regularly this season. We saw the dangers that lurk when kickers cannot put the ball out of the end zone.
Name – Connor Schneider
Position – Defensive Line (RS Sophomore)
Hometown – Granger, Indiana (Penn)
Height – 6’3”
Weight – 284
Connor Schneider is a second-generation Hoosier player as his father, Randy, played for head coach Bill Mallory from 1988-91 along the offensive line. Randy was a team captain in 1991 and his Hoosier career landed him in the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
Out of Penn High School in Granger, Indiana, Schneider was rated a two-star prospect and signed with Northern Illinois, another school with Mallory ties. He did not see any action at Northern Illinois in 2017 before transferring and walking on at IU in 2018. While Schneider did not see any game action during his first season at IU, he did take home Scout Team Player of the Week for the week leading into the Iowa game.
Heading into 2019, the goal for Schneider is to provide depth and maybe see the field for IU. He has an excellent example to look up to in Gavin Everett, another former walk-on who has turned into a reliable piece for the Hoosiers. The strategy of taking transfers from lower tier schools and getting them to walk on at IU is a low risk, high reward gamble. It helps build depth and in the case of Everett can result in a player that can be counted on to play a role in the rotation.
Hutch’s Trivia Question
In honor of the late Terry Hutchens, we are including a daily IUFB trivia question from his book So You Think You Know Indiana University Football. Hutch is dearly missed and this is our way of keeping his memory with us this season. Please leave your answers in the comments section.
What was the first bowl game that Indiana ever won?
(check back tomorrow for the answer)
Yesterday’s Answer: 1988