Sheridan introduced as OC, Wright to coach TEs

As expected, newly minted Indiana offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan faced questions about his somewhat short resume at Saturday’s introductory press conference.

So, how much input did the 31-year-old tight ends coach have in the Hoosiers’ offensive gameplan in 2019?

“I helped give input for all the plays that worked and scored,” Sheridan said, bringing laughter to a room of reporters. “All the other ones I had nothing to do with.”

In truth, the now-head coach of Fresno State, Kalen DeBoer, was calling plays for the Hoosiers last year. But there is a reason IU coach Tom Allen was willing to overlook some of the holes in Sheridan’s history, which includes about a half-dozen years coaching QBs before his move to IU’s tight ends room in 2019.

While those on the outside see a young coach, Allen has seen Sheridan’s mind at work prior to Saturdays, helping collaborate on gameplans with fellow position coaches, DeBoer, and, before that, Mike DeBord. He’s been on the headset with Sheridan during games, hearing him talk about the defense and how to attack.

“I just feel without any hesitation that the feel for the game, the understanding of the game, the ability to have the big picture of it all. Some guys can visualize it, verbalize it,” Allen said. “Really good play callers can do that. They can see it, anticipate what’s next.”

Allen believes Sheridan is one of those minds. The site 247Sports believed it when Sheridan was named one of the nation’s top 30 coaches under 30 years old in 2017.

DeBoer believes it, as well, and the outgoing offensive coordinator gave a strong endorsement before exiting for Fresno State.

“Kalen came to me actually even before he knew he was leaving, just about what Nick brings to our staff, the mind that he has, the offensive abilities that he has,” Allen said. “Kalen was just raving to me about him, what he felt he brought to our staff and the way he thought and saw things, both schematically and in personnel.

“That just all the more gave me the confidence.”

Sheridan, a former Michigan quarterback, is a known commodity in IU’s coaching offices — someone who has, behind the scenes, been an important part of a culture Allen wants to foster.

Giving an up-and-comer a promotion was not just a way of maintaining a continuity in scheme but also a personality dynamic.

“The ‘we’ is better than ‘me’ as a staff,” Allen said. “So that collective group is better than any one of them individually. Kalen would be the first one to say that even when he was here. That’s why I see this being a great, natural next step for us and a very, very good next step for our team and our program.”

Allen is also providing next steps for two others coaches, Grant Heard (receivers) and Mike Hart (running backs).

Heard was named co-offensive coordinator and Hart was given the title of associate head coach. These moves allow all three to develop as coaches in some respect. Heard, in particular, will be able to work with more aspects of the offense as a co-coordinator.

“He has goals for his future as well,” Allen said. “I feel like for him to expand as an offensive-minded individual, the run game, protections, those kinds of areas, to be able to be more involved in that, to help him grow there and get where he wants to be. I know our staff will benefit from that.”

Allen learned more about Sheridan’s capabilities by watching him coach the tight ends after two years leading IU’s quarterbacks. In DeBoer’s scheme, and with Sheridan’s coaching, redshirt sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot set program records for his position with 52 receptions for 622 yards.

And if anyone was going to give Sheridan another quick leap up the ladder, it was probably Allen. He handed the reins of the defense over to 32-year-old Kane Wommack in 2019. Sheridan doesn’t have the play-calling experience of Wommack, who was the defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois and South Alabama prior to IU. But Allen can think of times when coaches took a chance on him personally.

For instance, when Willie Taggart hired Allen as defensive coordinator at South Florida in 2015, Allen hadn’t been a play-caller at the Division I level. Taggart gave Sheridan similar chances at Western Kentucky and then South Florida, allowing a 20-something coach to work with quarterbacks.

“I had not called it at this level, really not anything close to it when I got to this point,” Allen said. “But he believed in my preparation, the ability for me to do that. I was able to prove to him that I was able to. I feel the same way with Nick.

“I’m excited, looking forward to having him put his stamp on this offense. … It’s just such a good room. I just love our staff.”

As far as how the offense will change under Sheridan, that remains to be seen. But he offered some general descriptors, such as “Pro tempo,” “aggressive,” and “quarterback friendly.” Explosive plays were something DeBoer was able to create with more frequency, and it will be Sheridan’s task to continue that trend.

But he won’t be reckless, either.

“I think sometimes as an offensive coach, you want to do what helps you win first, then obviously what helps you score points, and not in the reverse order,” Sheridan said. “You don’t want to jeopardize your opportunity to win because of your recklessness, so to speak. I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”

With several key playmakers returning in 2020, including quarterback Michael Penix Jr., running back Stevie Scott, and receiver Whop Philyor, IU’s offense should have a chance to build off of its successes.

“I want to thank coach for this opportunity,” Sheridan said. “I’m extremely humbled, grateful. I don’t take it lightly. I told him when we had these conversations that I won’t let him down.”

Wright expected to coach TEs

IU is also expected to hire Kevin Wright, the head coach at IMG Academy (Fla.), as the program’s next tight ends coach.

Wright, who previously coached at Warren Central and Carmel, should bring recruiting connections in both Indianapolis and the state of Florida.

The news of Wright’s hire was first reported by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic. Allen declined to address those reports Saturday.

“We got some positions that we’ve got to get squared away. Nothing is official with all that,” Allen said. “It’s the time of year. Those ‘sources confirmed’ are flying around like crazy across Twitter and beyond.

“But, yeah, we’ll have those. I hope to have everything kind of squared away with our staff, I’ll have some questions answered probably within the next five to six days.”

IU is also looking to fill a special teams coach opening with William Inge reportedly heading to Fresno State to join DeBoer’s staff as defensive coordinator.

2 comments

  1. I hope coach Sheridan proves coach Allen right about his choice as OC. I am a little concerned about Sheridan taking over QBs again as Ramey’s biggest shortcoming was bailing out of the pocket too early destroying OL blocks. With the talent coming back coach Sheridan needs to nail the job in 2020. If he can take the offense to new levels he will help IU improve in 2020 and make IU a relevant opponent even for the top teams.

    Bringing in Wright could help recruiting and I hope we see big results in the 2021 class.

  2. The final moves in the coaching staff have been announced as Jason Jones will be the Safeties coach and Teegardin moves to ST coordinator. I hope this move improves both areas of the team as our safety play needs to improve and STs needs to get better especially the return teams.

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