Details on new commit and more from start of IU’s fall camp

A half hour south of Atlanta, within the highest classification of Georgia high school football, Lovejoy football coach Edgar Carson doesn’t worry about depth.

At one of the state’s larger schools, Carson works within a deep talent pool and doesn’t need to rush young players like defensive end Chris Henderson onto the field. So Henderson, who committed to Indiana on Thursday evening, had to wait his turn. He played as an underclassman, but didn’t earn his first starting assignment until his junior season last fall.

Now, Carson believes IU is set to add an under-the-radar type of player to its defense.

“We’ve been blessed,” Carson said. “Every guy that’s played at his position has gone to college, so he had to wait his turn behind a lot of good guys, a lot of good players. (Last year) was his first year starting and he had a great year. He played in the Rising Senior Game, he had a pretty productive year and we’re looking for bigger and better things out of him this year.”

Henderson, who’s listed at 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, made 67 tackles and recorded seven sacks last fall. He chose Indiana over offers from Louisville, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State and others. Carson said Missouri also showed plenty of interest, but did not offer.

A three-star prospect in the 247 Composite, Henderson made his decision after taking an unofficial visit to Bloomington on Thursday. Carson said he believes IU likes Henderson as a defensive end, but his size also indicates he could potentially fall into the mix at bandit.

“Chris did a good job of rushing the passer,” Carson said. “He never takes plays off. He’s very long. This year, we might drop him in to coverage some because he’s good enough. He’s a quiet leader, but he is a leader. We’re just excited about this season. He got his commitment out of the way, so now we can just focus on Lovejoy football.”

Carson said Henderson, who is the 10th member of IU’s 2016 class, continues to progress since taking the starting job last summer. His coaches knew he had Division I potential since he arrived in high school, and now that talent has been rewarded.

“He does a pretty good job of getting a jump off the ball,” Carson said. “He does a great job of using his hands and coming off the ball. He’s pretty fast, so he does a good job of getting around the edge. He can actually use a spin move as well, but he’s doing a good job of working on his craft.”

Booth coming off strong summer

Dominique Booth played in all 12 games last season, starting the final six, and the former four-star receiver could be in line for much greater production this fall.

IU coach Kevin Wilson said Thursday that the sophomore is coming off a strong summer entering preseason camp. After an ACL injury ended J-Shun Harris’ season in June, Booth is now the Hoosiers’ leading returning receiver.

The Pike product, who committed to Tennessee before signing with IU, caught eight passes for 70 yards as a freshman last season, including a personal-best outing with four receptions for 33 yards against Penn State.

“He’s been a solid guy,” Wilson said. “He played as a true freshman. I think sometimes some expectations can get blown out of proportion. They get those star ratings, but a guy watched one highlight or had a buddy, or a guy gets overrated or underrated — not that he has.”

Prior to the start of Thursday’s first practice of the season, Wilson admitted he doesn’t put much stock in his depth chart — especially at the moment. Wilson conceded that identifying players on a two-deep is important, but pointed to his philosophy of rotating starters and backups at a few key positions.

By the end of this month, Wilson will name three starters at receiver, but he expects up to 10 players to contribute at that position.

“(Booth) played as a true freshman, which most guys don’t,” Wilson said. “He’s in the mix, but I don’t know if he’s going to separate and be ‘a guy.’ In our world, we played several tailbacks last year. We’re gonna play eight, nine or 10 (receivers). He’ll be in the eight or nine, he’ll be heavy in the two-deep and he’s had a great summer.”

Options at strong safety

By the end of the 2014 season, Chase Dutra was part of a group of Hoosiers who made the most noticeable improvements from the start of the fall.

Dutra showed smarts as a back-end defender, learning how not to be beaten on some of the same angles and routes that troubled him earlier in the year. Following Antonio Allen’s dismissal in June, Dutra will now try to continue his development at free safety.

Dutra’s move, announced by IU coach Kevin Wilson at last week’s Big Ten Media Days, opens up a competition for his former spot at strong safety. Entering the first weekend of camp, Wilson says that battle starts with sophomores Kiante Walton and Tony Fields, but doesn’t end there.

“I’ve got my thoughts and I think coach (Noah) Joseph and coach (Brandon) Shelby have theirs, so we’ll see how it plays out,” Wilson said.

Both Walton and Fields played in every game last season as freshmen, with Fields leading the duo with 14 tackles. Walton made eight stops, including six solo. Last year’s experience gives them both a leg up, but Wilson went out of his way to praise a few others.

Redshirt sophomore walk-on Mario Swann, who sat out last season after transferring from Eastern Michigan, is in the mix. Also keep an eye on the progress of former Bloomington North standout Ty Smith — who was honored this week as one of IU’s top workers in the weight room this summer — and freshmen Jonathan Crawford and Jameel Cook Jr.

“I think you start out with guys that have played — the first three guys being Chase, Kiante and Tony Fields,” Wilson said. “Then you figure out with the young freshmen or the older guys, with Mario and Ty, who’s fighting for that fourth or fifth spot. Maybe (Swann and Smith) can go past Tony and Kiante. We’re gonna have numbers. I think there’s a lot of young talent and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Wilson begins as bandit

Brandon Wilson played defensive end at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Fla., but the 6-foot-3, 240-pound freshman will be more of a hybrid in college.

Wilson, one of the top seniors in central Florida, was projected as the No. 50 strong-side defensive end nationally by 247 Sports.

“He’s playing that bandit spot, which is a halfway rush guy, halfway drop guy,” Wilson said. “We’ll see in time how he plays and how he grows. He’s over there with Nile (Sykes) and Zack Shaw, one of our better players.”

One comment

  1. Mike, thanks for the info on some key players heading into this year. Your articles do a great job letting us get to know the players on this year’s team before we see them play the first game. It is good to read about players we don’t get much info on since they come from different areas of the country. Keep up the good work.

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