Camion Patrick made his long-awaited debut during Saturday’s loss to Wake Forest.
Though quiet, it seemed to go as planned.
The Hoosiers have no plans to rush the junior receiver back to action, even as his recovery from an ACL injury suffered during the spring has him back in the team’s plans perhaps a hair ahead of schedule. Patrick played a handful of snaps Saturday and was not targeted once in passing situations.
But that could change soon.
“That’s a talented guy,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. “He’s got to get on the field and prove himself there.”
It appears an expanded role for Patrick might not be far away.
He appeared primarily in IU’s bigger personnel sets Saturday, and Wilson seemed to want Patrick on the field to feel game speed and knock off some of the rust. More significant responsibilities could be coming.
Saturday was the first time Patrick has touched the field since the 2014 season, when he caught 42 passes for 631 yards and 12 touchdowns at East Mississippi Community College.
After missing last season due to academics, Patrick is still in the process of working through the expected atrophy, both in terms of game speed and injury recovery.
But the player who Wilson deemed the best on his team late last year, could see his profile grow soon.
“Sometimes when you’ve been sitting that long, there is a little rust that sits in and it’s knocking the rust off,” Wilson said. “It was good that he was cleared and got some plays. … “He was looking good at practice (Monday) and we’ll keep workin’ it and see how it goes.”
Patrick wasn’t the only touted offensive player to debut Saturday.
Tyler Natee, a 270-pound former high school quarterback, ran the wildcat for Indiana and scored his first touchdown on a one-yard run late in the third quarter.
Natee debuted a quarter earlier in a fourth-and-one situation at the Wake 26. With running back Devonte Williams lined up next to him in the Indiana backfield, Natee took the snap himself and got stuffed on his run to the left.
It was a lot to ask of a freshman on his first play, and it was an even tougher situation given that IU was playing without two of its top blockers.
Wilson said this week that while he didn’t necessarily regret deploying Natee in that situation, he admitted that he probably should have taken a timeout to think it through.
“We took what we thought was right,” Wilson said. “We got a leg that can definitely kick the field goal, but the way our protection had been, it was in the fringe area where, you know, should we or shouldn’t we?
“Maybe hindsight, early in the game like that, instead of taking that 20-second deal, probably next time let the clock run out and take a timeout and let’s talk about it. Are we good to kick it? If I got a regret it’s maybe making a quick decision.”