Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
What does Allen’s Suspension mean for IU’s defense?
Antonio Allen has been suspended indefinitely and his football career at IU is most likely over after being arrested on felony drug charges. The junior was expected to start at safety and help anchor a defense that was hoping to continue the improvements they made during the 2014 season. Without him, IU’s secondary now looks extremely young (only two players have made any career starts, Chase Dutra with 1 and Kenny Mullen with 7) and a group that was already looking suspect will now have even more questions to answer.
Candidates to step up
-Kiante Walton - Sophomore/ 6’2”/ 206 lbs./Columbus, Georgia
Walton played in all 12 games as a freshman and contributed eight tackles. Walton has more length than Allen and he exhibited playmaking ability by forcing a fumble during the Spring Game. I don’t think he can be the enforcer that Allen was but it’s very possible that he could be a solid starter.
-Tony Fields – Sophomore /5’11”/205 lbs./Tallahassee, Florida
Another sophomore who played in all 12 games in 2014, Fields had 14 tackles (nine solo) and one pass breakup during his freshman season. He was a two-sport athlete during high school and entered IU as the 44th ranked safety prospect in the 2014 recruiting class. Fields is roughly the same size as Allen and I think he’s probably the favorite to win the job next to Chase Dutra heading into fall camp.
-Will Dawkins – RS Freshman/5’11”/198 lbs./Vero Beach, Florida
Will Dawkins redshirted the 2014 season after playing defensive back and wide receiver at Vero Beach High School. He came to IU as the 22nd rated safety in the 2014 class and lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track while in high school. It’s possible that he ends up at defensive back but he’s a very good athlete that I imagine will find a way to see the field at some point in 2015. The departure of Allen may push the coaches to try Dawkins at safety this coming season.
-Jonathan Crawford – Freshman/6’2”/180 lbs./Largo, Florida
Crawford signed with Indiana as a member of the 2015 recruiting class, choosing the Hoosiers over Wisconsin, Rutgers, Iowa, Louisville and others. At 6’2”, Crawford presents an intrigue option for IU’s coaching staff. He had 69 tackles and two interceptions during his senior season of high school and, before Allen’s suspension, was expected to compete for a spot on the depth chart and provide some depth as he developed into a starter for 2017. Our podcast guest and Tampa Tribune writer Lynden Ostrander covered Crawford during high school and he told us that he thinks Crawford is up to the challenge of playing right away and that he is capable of reading plays very well and making plays on the ball.
-Jameel Cook Jr. – Freshman/6’1”/190 lbs./Missouri City, Texas
Cook originally committed to be a Maryland Terrapin but he took a closer look at IU and decided to become a Hoosier. Cook chose IU over the Terps, Arizona State, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky and others and brings great speed to the position. He had 50 tackles, four passes defended and two forced fumbles during his senior season in Texas and his 6’1” frame could help him join the battle for playing time.
How will this play out?
This situation is impossible to predict but I can make a couple of educated guesses. First, Antonio Allen is innocent until proven guilty. That being said, the charges are hard to ignore and it seems incredibly unlikely that he will ever suit up for IU again. Let’s assume that Allen is removed from the team and go from there. We are predicting that Rashard Fant will start at one corner and Tyler Green will end up starting at the other corner while Kenny Mullen returns from injury to man the slot corner position. We are also predicting that Chase Dutra will start at FS (and I really like Dutra’s potential). My guess is that Tony Fields will be the other starting safety when the season kicks off and Kiante Walton will be his backup. I think Jonathan Crawford will be a part of the rotation at safety (subbing in for both Dutra and Fields/Walton) and show a lot of promise during the 2015 season. I’m guessing that Will Dawkins winds up at cornerback while Jameel Cook Jr. ends up redshirting.
Bottom line, Antonio Allen’s play will be missed and his absence makes a young secondary even younger. The Hoosiers will be relying on multiple unproven players but there’s no need to completely panic. I like the depth and I think the coaching staff has some options but there’s little doubt that the concerns surrounding the secondary’s inexperience are now even more pronounced. This probably won’t be an issue against Southern Illinois or Florida International but the explosive offense of Western Kentucky will shine a spotlight on the young Hoosiers secondary, we shall see if guys like Fields, Walton and Crawford are ready for their close-up.