Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Big Ten Media Days are here! That means the college football season is creeping ever closer and we are only 37 days away from the IU season opener against Florida International in Miami. Today, our countdown focuses on a player that may be making his collegiate debut on that much-anticipated night, running back Cole Gest. Note: Gest will be wearing #20 for the Hoosiers but our countdown schedule was laid out before the incoming freshmen had numbers.
-Weight: 193 pounds
-Hometown: Lyndhurst, Ohio (St. Edward)
-Position: Running Back
It’s not easy to succeed in the talent-rich football powerhouse state of Ohio. However, during his four-year high school career, running back Cole Gest was able to succeed, and then some. Gest led St. Edward to back-to-back Division One state titles in 2014 and 2015 as the school went a remarkable 27-3. He finished as the school’s all-time leading rusher with almost 4,000 yards and he found the end-zone on 50 occasions during his career. Gest exploded during his senior season, rushing for 2,097 yards and scoring 25 touchdowns. His efforts led to him being named to an all-district team and receiving honorable mention All-Ohio. He chose IU over offers from Bowling Green and Toledo and he told Hoosier Huddle the IU coaching staff “treated me very well” and that IU “just feels like home”.
Gest is only 5’8” but he is extremely well-built and compact and his frame suggests his height won’t lead to durability concerns. Gest is lightning quick and very light on his feet and he showcased good hands on multiple clips from his highlight tape. The Hoosiers are loaded at running back, particularly with the news that Camion Patrick is “ahead of schedule” in his rehab from ACL surgery. Devine Redding, Mike Majette, Devante Williams and Camion Patrick figure to be ahead of Gest. Fellow incoming freshman Tyler Natee is a different kind of player but he further clogs up the RB depth chart and Alex Rodriguez and Ricky Brookins are both slated to return as walk-ons. The depth and quality at this position makes a redshirt season for Gest a possibility but his athleticism and speed could earn him a spot on the field in 2016. He could be used in the slot as a receiver or as a pass catching threat out of the backfield. In addition, the Hoosiers need a jolt on kick returns and he may get a shot to prove himself back there during fall camp. Kevin Wilson has shown that if a player can help the Hoosiers, he’ll play, regardless of age. My best guess is that the Hoosiers give Gest a chance to shine as a kick returner during camp. If he’s exceptional, he’ll play in 2016. However, the most likely scenario is that the loaded running back depth chart gives the coaching staff the luxury of redshirting Gest. He’ll be an asset on the scout team and he’s a potentially explosive player with an exciting future in Bloomington.
Share your thoughts on Cole Gest and the rest of the IU backfield in the comments section or on the message boards!