James looking to find niche in secondary

At Carmel High School, Isaac James did a little bit of everything.

James was one of the better prep athletes in the Indianapolis area, spending his high school playing days at quarterback, receiver, running back and defensive back for the Greyhounds.

James has been slow to surface for the Hoosiers, but his versatility may finally help the one-time slot receiver earn a niche on the field.

James, a 5-foot-11 redshirt sophomore, will spend the rest of the season at hybrid safety for an Indiana defense that has already experienced a couple key losses at the position.

With sophomore husky Marcelino Ball out with an injury and freshman Bryant Fitzgerald declared ineligible, IU has sought help in its secondary.

Enter James.

“(We’ve) just got some guys injured and felt like that was the best chance for us to get him on the field,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He’s a really good athlete and a great kid. We felt like, ‘Hey, this is where he could really help our team.’ Really have kind of played him both at rover and husky based on injuries. So need him this week. Need his speed and his ability to make plays in space.”

During the past season and a half, James has seen the bulk of his action on special teams. He earned IU’s weekly special teams honor for his work in last year’s Rutgers game and made a big special teams stop in Saturday’s loss at Michigan State, tackling Spartans punt returner Cody White at the MSU 7 late in the first half.

“Once again, athletes in space,” Allen said. “He’s a really good athlete.”

As a high school senior in 2014, James was rated the No. 5 in-state prospect and the No. 36 athlete in the country by 247 Sports. He also played basketball and participated in track and field, setting a school record in the long jump (23-3).

Whether James remains on defense after this season isn’t clear.

“When we get into spring ball, we’ll see how it goes there,” Allen said. “Probably get a chance to see where he would fit long-term in the spring.”


  1. Hard for me to figure he isn’t an ideal fit for the slot in the future. Also believe he needs to receive time returning KO’s to see if he can better the field position presently being offered by DW.

  2. WOW!!! I have to agree with you HC, hard to imagine that Isaac James was not the perfect slot receivers with his speed and play making ability…was really an excellent play maker in high school. Which brings me to this discussion….most people on this blog are quick to criticize Kevin Wilson and his coaching staff for missing out (recruiting poor talent) on offensive lineman, running back and quarterbacks. But I would like to point out, this is the same coaching staff that recruited all the present talent on the defensive side of the football. An it is amazing to me that all the non-talented IU football players are all located (all of a sudden) on the offensive side of the football. Whereby two or three years ago all the non-talented IU football players where located on the defensive side of the football. I cannot believe that the O-line, running back and quarterback position lack as much talent as individual on this blog suggest. This is all about coaching, Mike Debord, Mike Hart, Grant Heard and Darren Hiller need to do a better job, if IU is to ever breakthrough.

  3. Yes and as far as I’m concerned he could also be a fit as a dual threat option QB for depth. He is simply too talented to not be exploited every game.

  4. According to coach Allen James playing on defense this year is temporary and he should be on offense again next year. The injury to Ball and Fitzgerald being denied eligibility really hurt the Husky position and they went after the best athlete.

    This was posted over on the Hoosier.com site:

    2016 vs Ohio State
    Rushing Yards = 99
    Passing Yards = 182
    Total 281

    2017 vs Ohio State
    Rushing Yards = 17
    Passing Yards = 420
    Total 437

    2016 vs Penn State
    Rushing Yards = 110
    Passing Yards = 344
    Total 454

    2017 vs Penn State
    Rushing Yards = 177
    Passing Yards = 175
    Total 352

    2016 vs Michigan
    Rushing Yards = 64
    Passing Yards = 191
    Total 255

    2017 vs Michigan
    Rushing Yards = 80
    Passing Yards = 198
    Total 278

    2016 vs Michigan State
    Rushing Yards = 156
    Passing Yards = 281
    Total 437

    2017 vs Michigan State
    Rushing Yards = 94
    Passing Yards = 158
    Total 252

    Total Yards 2016 = 1,427
    Total Yards 2017 = 1,319

    We have produced 108 less yards against these teams this year or an average of 27 less yards per game.

    1. Those numbers prove how important Richard Lagow is to the offense. Last year and this year.

  5. And that is 27 yards less per game which was already a struggling offense win games were on the line. Thanks to A.D. who was instrumental in each win IU never lost to P.U. during his tenure. (A.D. can always say he was undefeated against P.U.)

  6. And most of the gains in 2017 against 2016 were attributable to the OSU game…Let’s keep in mind that we played OSU in the first game of the season at home. I’m thinking they perceived the game more as a scrimmage to experiment with a very deep roster and a new OC.
    IU goes into the contest like it’s their Rose Bowl. When did Wilson have OSU on the schedule? And was it home or away?
    Kicking off the season against OSU is the best time to catch a mammoth machine slowly gearing up.

  7. Any stats can be used how you want as Mrk Twain said “figures lie and liars figure”. My point was just to put some perspective on this year’s offense. No OC calls all plays fans are for and I have some questions about play calling. I know though, I am not coaching these players and therefore don’t know how to get the most out of them. If I worked with them every day I would have an idea how I would use them which many would find fault with. Fans are only hapy if you romp over every opponent and until a team does that there will be criticism; even Alabama was hearing complaints after their close game.

    1. You placed the stats here, so I ‘figured’ you thought they were indicative of something….and thus, they should be debated. Outside of one game(an opening season game), the cumulative stats were far more in Wilson’s(2016) favor.

      No explosive runs…
      No deep balls….
      No desire to utilize 4th down/take risk in maintaining possessions

      Lastly, you can’t remove yourself as the “evil” fan simply because you have high school coaching experience. And Mark Twain’s quote can just as easily apply to all things happening on a blog. Not only do stats lie, but people embellish. Whatever anyone claims they have done or achieved on any BS ridden chats site/forum conveniently comes with full anonymity as a trophy case to hold all the boasting and bragging. You can’t lecture us as some sort of removed fans while you function wholly removed from identity and scrutiny. I don’t think any of us are on your roster….? We are all sort of a family….of fans here(fans of Scoop and fans of Jeremy too!), but we are not a team. Your job here is not to coach me….nor tell me my opinion is worthless because I’m merely a fan.

  8. Yes perspective is exactly it and the perspective is the offense was more explosive under Lagow then it is under Ramsey and would be again this year. If this years offense is about moving the chains it is falling short of Wilson’s offense last year.

  9. Think this discussion is missing an interesting perspective Mike Miller mentioned in his article earlier this week, 4 things we learned about the Michigan State game. Miller wrote, Wilson “To borrow from former coach Kevin Wilson, you can’t call what you can’t block.” There is one thing very obvious in that the Offensive Line play has deteriorated not just this year but last year as well. It can be chalked up to several reasons starting with injuries. Couple this problem with Coaching turnover, Players moving to the NFL, and a new Offense; you have a recipe for problems at least for this year.

    Lest anyone forget the long standing football adage, football games are won or lost in the trenches. Line play is everything, what good is all the skill in the world if you can’t block for it. It works for a little while but eventually a good defense will overcome the skill without line play. I will remind those who want to run Hiller out of town while in his first year, this problem started last year not this year and he was not the Line Coach then. I believe this started under a much admired new Michigan O Line Coach.

    1. That’s only half of what Wilson said on the subject. The other half of the sentence on the subject was you can only call what the quarterback can execute. Meaning Wilson knows how to manage average/under rated talent and DeBord is lacking in the same knowledge.

  10. All probably true…

    But fans(what I believe we all are) rarely dig into the trenches of dissection and the detailed searches under final scores to explain a dull product and mounting losses.
    Only the man in charge is accountable in the eyes of those who pay for a cable package or a seat in the stands.

    Well over 80 players on a football roster…Hard to find a handful of scapegoats(though a QB is the easiest target for a shallow shot of blame) on such a vast roster that makes up a college football team.

    From my perspective, IU Football was simply a more exciting product to watch under Wilson. The mere fact that a couple of his running backs are logging major minutes in the NFL supports the idea that highly talented “scorers” wanted to come to IU ….of all places.
    Good luck with conservative football at a place already struggling to put fans in seats.

  11. Also, I think most us knew that the basketball we were witnessing over the last nine seasons was not a well-coached product. Outside of few high IQ Indiana ballers(Zeller, Hulls, Etherington, Yogi, Hartman) who periodically brought stability/leadership/floor knowledge to the product, once those integral pieces began to leave, the entire thing eventually melted down to cue card basketball. Once the Indiana insurgence serving as coaches in uniform were no longer major components on the roster/bench, Crean’s true value as a teacher/coach was exposed….and it wasn’t pretty.

    Same goes with football…Though many of us may not possess the needed skills/knowledge to coach the game at the highest levels(or even modest junior high/high school levels), we still know when the product on the field/court is without belief, synergy and confidence. We see the miscues…We see the errant throws…We witness the confusion on sidelines….We witness runs fooling no opposing defense. We see shanked kicks…We see size disparities. We see differences in athleticism and explosiveness of talent. We see a lot as novices only being paying customers. We see it no different in letdowns from the stands than the disappointment in going to crappy movie billed as something worthy of a coke and popcorn for twenty-five dollars.

    When will IU Football be worthy of the price of admission? When do we stop comparing who’s to blame? When will it be something to compete on the biggest stages of the game? When will it be something other than more of the same?

  12. H4H, I don’t know where you got the idea I said your opinion was worthless. I presented stats for perspective that this year’s offense isn’t as bad as some want to make it. Is the offense disappointing I would agree with that. We do have a very good Freshman RB and a few good OL men to build around the next few years. Plus the 2018 recruiting class is now ranked #34 with 5-7 more to add which will boost their rating.

    There are things I disagree with this year but I also realize it is the first year with players that aren’t the ones recruited by this group. Yes, I prefer a more wide open attack but the OL and QBs don’t offer that possibility. I wish Lagow could have sustained his first half against OSU for the year but he looked terrible against UVA and not a lot better against PSU. For this coaching staff I will wait and see how the team develops and plays over the next two years.

  13. You still da man…My apologies for getting a bit snarly. Allen is a quality coach…IU is lucky to have his level of energy and his relentless upbeat attitude.

  14. v-13…I also hope IU could one day hire you(if you were to ever be interested). You have convinced me that your knowledge of the game and, more importantly, your solid constitution is exactly the sort of personality/traits needed to counter the years of neglect and defeatism that has engulfed the culture of the program for far too long. Your experiences in turning attitudes and teams around is well worth their consideration.

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