Written By Alex Compton
We at Hoosier Huddle thought it would be beneficial to take a look at each of the redshirt freshmen that didn’t see any game action during the 2015 season. Joe Belden is the next redshirt freshman we’ll take under the microscope in this new regular feature: The Redshirts Are Coming!
6’2”/250 lbs/DE from Avon, IN
Belden made his way to Bloomington as a three-star recruit and the 21st ranked player in Indiana. As a senior at Avon, Belden racked up 62 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, six QB hurries and three pass breakups. Belden was one of four players from the state of Indiana in the Hoosiers’ 2015 class, along with Brandon Knight (Noblesville), Isaac James (Carmel), and Jacob Robinson (Westfield).
WHY DID HE REDSHIRT?
Experience up front. Last season’s line, although thin, was certainly seasoned with game experience. Seniors Nick Mangieri and Zack Shaw had seen tons of snaps over their careers, and were able to anchor the line because of it. Mangieri and Shaw played alongside of Darius Latham, Adarius Rayner, and Ralph Green III, who had also seen plenty of snaps before the 2015 season. With Jacob Robinson and Robert McCray also contributing, there was very little room on the line to contribute on a decent percentage of plays. Another possible factor could be that since Belden is in between positions, the year off likely gave the coaching staff a year to build his strength up and get him locked into a consistent role for 2016. With four major contributors on the defensive line leaving the program, saving Belden’s eligibility for this season and beyond seems to be the smart move.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN 2016 AND BEYOND?
As previously stated, the Hoosiers are losing a lot of experience up front next season. Mangieri, Shaw and Rayner have graduated. Darius Latham decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Although it is uncertain exactly how Tom Allen’s defense will line up in his first season, it is clear that Belden will need to contribute from the opening kick at Florida International. The defensive line needs to provide some sort of pass rush if the Hoosiers want to cut down on the amount of passing yards given up, and I’m confident that this will be an emphasis of Tom Allen’s scheme at IU. Looking solely at defensive end, you only have Robinson returning as a pass-rushing DE. Belden and fellow redshirt freshman Brandon Wilson will be battling Robinson to get snaps as a DE, since there are options at Bandit as well.
It will be very interesting to see how new defensive coordinator Tom Allen lines everyone up this season, but having depth up front on both lines is always something you need. Lots of times last year Mangieri and Shaw looked gassed, simply because there was little depth behind them. Having fresh bodies rushing the passer for four quarters would be a nice change of pace, and Belden figures to be one of those bodies. As Allen figures out which guys he likes where on defense, don’t be surprised if Belden’s name is one you hear a bunch heading into the start of the season. With a bigger body and strong first step, he possesses the skills necessary to be a “bull-rush” type of end, much like Mangieri was. While he has yet to play a snap at the collegiate level, the tools are there for Belden to become a steady contributor for IU from his very first game in 2016 and beyond.
Check Hoosier Huddle often as we continue to preview Spring football and take a look at each member of the 2015 class that will be seeing his first action in 2016.