Here’s the sixth installment of our position-by-position preview of the Indiana football team. Today I take a look at the wide receivers and tight ends.
PROJECTED STARTERS: WR Terrance Turner, 6-3, 203, Jr.; WR Andrew Means, 6-0, 210, Jr.; WR, Ray Fisher 5-9, 172, Jr.; TE Max Dedmond, 6-5, 236, Fr.
STARTERS LOST: James Hardy (started 13 games), James Bailey (started four games), Nick Sexton (started five games)
KEY RESERVES: WR Matt Ernest, 6-2, 184, Fr.; WR Mitchell Evans, 6-3, 199, So.; WR Brandon Walker-Roby, 5-11, 194, Sr.; TE Brad Martin, 6-4, 259, Jr.
2007 REVIEW: Hardy capped off the most prolific career by a Hoosiersâ€™ wide out with 79 catches for 1,125 yards and 16 TDs. Fisher and Means combined for 100 catches and more than 1,000 yards but only four touchdowns.
2008 OUTLOOK: No one is underestimating how difficult it will be to replace the 6-foot-5 Hardy. Itâ€™s up to Turner â€” who played well before an ACL tear sidelined him last year â€” to become the guy who can use his size to make plays. It should be interesting to see Means on the outside this year using his speed; heâ€™d primarily been used in the slot and over the middle because heâ€™s also tough and sure-handed. Evans and Dedmond are intriguing â€” and big â€” options, but the offense will have to evolve a bit if they are ever to become significant contributors. Thereâ€™s plenty of talent in the freshmen class but also a hope that some of them can be redshirted because of the depth already at the position.
STAT THAT MATTERS: Three players (Hardy, Fisher and Means) made 67 percent of the teamâ€™s catches, while the tight ends had a total of five grabs.
DID YOU KNOW: Hardy owns the IU record for career yards (2,740), receptions (191) and receiving TDs (36) despite arriving as a basketball player and leaving after just three seasons.
QUOTABLE: â€œParticularly with the tempo we want to play at weâ€™re going to need a lot of depth out there.â€ â€” Wide receivers coach Billy Lynch.
Q&A WITH ANDREW MEANS
Q: Whatâ€™s your major and how did you pick it?
A: General Studies. Basically, with my situation, playing the two sports, thatâ€™s what I want my future to be. I really donâ€™t have time to concentrate on certain areas. So my thinking is whenever I get done with sports, whatever I want to do, go back to school for that and take care of it.
Q: Whatâ€™s been your best class at IU so far?
A: Bowling. It was definitely the best. Thatâ€™s what I like to do, and you didnâ€™t have to study for anything. You just went out there and bowled. I bowled a 246 a few years ago.
Q: Whatâ€™s your favorite place to eat in Bloomington?
A: Applebees over at College Mall. Just because itâ€™s a good place. My friends back home have always liked it so we always go there and hang out and eat.
Q: Whatâ€™s your game-day ritual? Any superstitions?
A: Iâ€™m really superstitious. I started listening to music back in high school and had one bad game (he fumbled the opening kickoff and the other team scored a touchdown) and ever since then I havenâ€™t listened to music. Mostly everyone on the team does, and Iâ€™m just basically sitting there on the bus on the way here with no music on just looking out the window. I usually donâ€™t do much other than that, just try to laugh and not be too serious before the game.
Q: Whatâ€™s one thing you want to do better this year?
A: Produce touchdowns. Obviously we had James Hardy last year and he was a big threat. I called myself the 20-to-20 man. Once we got to the 20-yard-line you just throw it to James. You had to because he was such a great talent. But now we need other people to do that work.