Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
The season is only 46 days away! That’s right, the Hoosier Huddle Countdown is flying by and we are only 46 days from IU’s season kicking off in Miami against Florida International. Today’s countdown article focuses on one of the more unique players on the roster, a big back from the Lone Star State: freshman Tyler Natee!
-Weight: 258 pounds
-Hometown: Euless, TX (Trinity High School)
Indiana has been spending more time recently recruiting in the football powerhouse of Texas. Their efforts have been rewarded with the arrival of guys like Jameel Cook Jr., Ralph Green, DimitricCamiel and new quarterback Richard Lagow. Two more Texas products will be joining the squad soon when 2016 recruits offensive linemen Mackenzie Nworah and the subject of today’s article, Tyler Natee, arrive in Bloomington this summer. Natee, a 3-star prospect that played quarterback, fullback and running back in his high school career at Trinity High, chose IU because of the coaching staff’s successful record with running backs.
“From Tevin (Coleman) to Jordan (Howard) all the way back to OU (Oklahoma) with (Demarco) Murray and Trey Millard. I will fit as a bruising big back, expanding the offense to be able to do more and make more packages,” Natee told Hoosier Huddle after his commitment.
247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong wrote that “high school coaches in the area rave about him. He’s a good find for IU.”
Upon his commitment, I watched more than 15 minutes of highlight tape from Natee’s high school career. He averaged a mind-boggling 8.6 yards per carry and led his team to a state title game appearance as a junior and a 10-1 record as a senior and his size and skill is obvious in the film. He’s thick and tough to bring down but displays very good balance and quickness as a runner. In short, I was incredibly impressed and excited for the role he could play in this offense. Natee’s final line in the quote above is most telling. He’s going to “expand the offense” and give Kevin Wilson and Kevin Johns the kind of player they haven’t had in their time at IU. He could be used as a battering ram running back in short-yardage situations or perhaps he could be used as a fullback in jumbo I-formation packages. Maybe he impresses enough as a passer to be trusted as a Wildcat quarterback. My wildest idea involves a wing-T package that features Donovan Hale at quarterback, speedy backs like Devonte Williams and Camion Patrick with Natee as the up-back/fullback (I know this is next to impossible to implement without a lot of practice time that couldn’t realistically be devoted to it but it’s fun to think about).
He’s not going to overtake Devine Redding as the every-down running back and he’ll probably never be a guy that gets 25 carries a game. However, I think he can immediately be a valuable piece of this offense. His unique size and build makes him one-of-a-kind amongst the options the Hoosiers will have in the backfield and I expect him to be used in a variety of ways in 2016 and beyond. It’s unclear exactly how Natee’s career will play out but I think he’s going to become a fan favorite and I believe it’ll be a whole lot of fun to watch the coaches figure out how to use him.
Share your thoughts or expectations for Tyler Natee, and how you think the IU coaches could use his unique skill set and size, in our comments section (or on the message boards) and be sure to come back to Hoosier Huddle each day during our countdown!