UAB transfers Howard, Hawkins need to make impact during fall camp

Former UAB transfers Jordan Howard and Marqui Hawkins made very muted first impressions with their new program this spring. For both, it could be blamed on injuries.

Howard, who is expected to compete for Indiana’s starting running back gig, hyperextended his elbow after only five days of practice. In Hawkins’ case, he broke his wrist and was limited in April, preventing him from emerging in a wide-open battle at receiver.

As both report to fall camp today with the rest of Indiana’s newcomers, the duo will need to make the most of the upcoming month to assert themselves on coach Kevin Wilson’s depth chart. Last week, Wilson called both transfers “sight unknown” after their appearances this spring were halted due to health reasons.

But Wilson has hopes that both can break through during fall camp.

“They’ll be in the mix playing,” Wilson said. “Haven’t seen enough that I can guarantee that they’re going to be full-time starters and all that just yet.”

Although he has a track record as a strong and productive back in Conference USA, Howard missed a chance to make a case for the starting running back duties this spring. While Howard enters the season ranked second nationally among active players with 451 total attempts and 107.3 rushing yards per game, IU coaches seem to be equally high on Devine Redding as a competitor for the starting job.

Redding is expected to push Howard after rushing for 118 yards and one touchdown, while averaging 4.1 yards per carry as a freshman.

“It is tough to replace Tevin Coleman,” Wilson said. “(Howard) will be a different back. But the consistency of last year’s running game when we didn’t have a passing attack the last six weeks — the year before when our offense was one of one of the two best in the league — those running backs will have a very good offensive line.”

Hawkins is a former three-star Florida recruit in the 2013 class who has not played a single college game. He was moved to defense during his freshman season at Florida before transferring to play receiver at UAB. He sat out last fall per NCAA transfer rules before transferring to Indiana after UAB originally disbanded its program in November.

Hawkins originally chose the Gators over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and others. With every receiving spot on the IU depth chart up for grabs, Hawkins has his best opportunity yet to make a strong impression.

“Marqui broke a wrist, got a workout, but was very, very limited (during the spring),” Wilson said. “He’s looked solid in summer. I think he’ll be in the mix, but I don’t know if he’s played enough to separate or step out. So I’m sure he’ll be thrown out there, but we’ve not seen a lot of scrimmage snaps with Marqui Hawkins.”

One comment

  1. The UAB transfers can be the difference between IU winning 6 games or winning 8 or more. If both players prove themselves to be special players they can make the difference in games against our top opponents. Add in Patrick from JC and it could give IU three playmakers to add to the skilled players already that have been on the field last year.

    I hope the games after Nate was injured taught the players and the coaches something about playing winning football. How could they learn to win while losing so many, it was the way they loss as they didn’t fold the tents for the rest of the season. I hope the coaches learned how a running game helps the defense as it gives them some time off the field. The defense learned how to play the last half of the year and I hope they continue that this year. Add in a solid passing game and this could be a winning team that beats teams they aren’t expected to beat.

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