Written By Alex Compton
I’ve often felt that redshirt freshmen are the forgotten members of a football team. Many fans (myself included) read up on high school seniors when they sign with the Indiana Hoosiers and then wait for those players to make an impact on the field. If the recruit ends up redshirting during his first year on campus, it can be difficult to remember him when it comes time to preview the coming football season. What does the player offer? If he came in as an athlete, what position is he going to play after practicing for a full year? How does he fit in on the depth chart? How much progress has there been in his game during his time away from the watchful eyes of fans?
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. Austin King is the next redshirt freshman we’ll take under the microscope in this new regular feature: The Redshirts Are Coming!
6’3”/193 lbs/QB from Alpharetta, GA
Austin King came to Indiana as a member of the 2015 class after being recruited out of Alpharetta, Georgia. He was a North Carolina State commit for the summer heading into his senior season, until Indiana came calling. King ended up rescinding his NC State commitment that same summer, and then committed to IU the very next day. King capped a prolific high school career by throwing for 2,370 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. He captained the team and led Alpharetta to a 10-2 overall record, including a 9-0 mark in conference play. King came to IU as a three-star prospect and the 30th best quarterback in the class.
WHY DID HE REDSHIRT?
Nate Sudfeld. Last year’s team was going to go as far as Nate could take it. Although he missed some time throughout the season, he ended up leading the team to a bowl game, which was something that was generally accepted as an indication of a successful season. Sudfeld was the clear starter, and the two quarterbacks behind him (Zander Diamont, Danny Cameron) had already become familiar with the scheme and the other offensive players, which made them more logical backups then an untested freshman. With the importance of Sudfeld to the team and the backups that were already in place, it would have been quite foolish to burn a year of King’s eligibility, which ultimately led to his redshirt.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN 2016 AND BEYOND?
The aforementioned Sudfeld has graduated, leaving the starting quarterback position “wide open”, according to the coaching staff. While the job appears to be JUCO transfer Richard Lagow’s to lose, there should be an intense battle that takes place over the course of both spring and summer ball. Based off of current knowledge of the team, let’s go ahead and pencil Lagow in as the starter for next season. That leaves the backup QB position up for grabs, and it is a more important position than it may seem. The last two seasons have both taken hits because of the lack of depth at quarterback. In 2014, a Sudfeld shoulder injury caused him to miss the last six games of the year and doomed Indiana to a 4-8 record. Last season, another Sudfeld injury caused him to miss the second half of the Ohio State game as well as the next contest against Penn State. Diamont finished the OSU game and started the PSU game, but injured his shoulder in the latter. This left Cameron under center, and he performed admirably considering the circumstances. While the backups could be described as serviceable, it was clear that the team could only win games with Nate under center. The backup QB job has been very important to Indiana football in recent years, and adding quality depth to the position should help the team improve upon last season’s mark.
With all of that being said, the very important backup QB job figures to be a three-man race between Danny Cameron, Zander Diamont, and Austin King. King will have a great shot to win the job for a few reasons. First off, he has a much stronger arm than both Cameron and Diamont. He can make all of the throws, and this is something that both Coach Wilson and offensive coordinator Kevin Johns have valued throughout their time in Bloomington. He is also very comfortable in the pocket, which is very important for an offense that relies more on timing and reads than making snap decisions and dynamic plays. King is a really solid fit for IU’s offense, and will likely get a shot as the #1 QB down the road. For next year however, I expect King to win the backup job and continue learning the offense and developing chemistry with the offensive weapons that are currently in Bloomington.
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.