Midyear enrollees Powell, Baldwin fitting in at IU

Dylan Powell has a routine.

A little food in the morning, but not a lot. He doesn’t like to eat too much before a workout. Then it’s a big breakfast. Then lunch. Then a snack. Then dinner. Then a snack.

“Fuel the machine is what they say,” said the Hoosiers’ grad transfer, who is proud to report he’s increased his weight from 290 pounds to 306 in just over a month.

But he’s not going to exaggerate, either.

“I wouldn’t say it’s all muscle,” Powell said, smiling, “but we’re working on it.”

This is the time of year for that work, especially for a midyear enrollee trying to find his place with the Hoosiers. Powell, formerly of Stanford, is one of nine newcomers to arrive in January, and he’s one of the top contenders for early playing time this coming fall.

An interior offensive lineman, the junior has a chance to step into one of the spots vacated by Hunter Littlejohn and Simon Stepaniak. Powell just has to get his body right.

He missed Stanford’s 2019 season with a labrum tear. At this point, Powell is not able to lift with his right arm. It’s not certain how much he’ll be able to participate in spring practices, either. But the gains he’s made thus far — on a quest to be 315 pounds by the season’s start — give him hope that he’ll be in a good place come summer and fall.

“I’ve been doing a lot of left arm stuff, so my left arm has been blowing up pretty good. And a lot of lower body stuff,” Powell said. “So (strength) coach (David) Ballou and their staff has done a really great job. I feel like I’m getting pretty strong right now. … I can’t wait to get going with my right arm and get going where I need to be.”

As a veteran of the college ranks, the transition hasn’t been overly difficult for Powell. He’s already sat down with offensive line coach Darren Hiller to go over the playbook, which has many of the same inside- and outside-zone concepts as Stanford. It’s just the verbiage that’s different.

It’s the seven true freshmen, including running back Tim Baldwin Jr., who are learning what a Division I football offseason is about. The Nokesville, Va., native came to Bloomington with only a vague idea.

“In high school, you do a certain amount of lifts, you are out of here, you aren’t even tired,” Baldwin said, “and then here, you are almost about to die.”

But that’s the advantage of arriving midyear. Baldwin has gotten a jump on what’s been his toughest adjustment thus far, finding his way to classes and balancing school work. And when it comes to Ballou’s workouts, he’s learned death is not actually at his door.

“Once you get used to it, you’re just like ‘Oh, I’m going to almost pass out today, but I’m going to make it to the next day,'” Baldwin said. “Once you get into the mindset, that you are going to work, you are going to be fine.”

Baldwin may also have an opportunity to see the field in 2020, because third-down back Ronnie Walker has entered his name in the transfer portal. And it’s not like IU hasn’t played freshman running backs before.

Stevie Scott, heading into his junior season, has been IU’s bell-cow back the last two years. Sophomore-to-be Sampson James rushed for 118 yards versus Purdue after Scott went down with an injury.

Baldwin, who was a hard-running, downhill back in high school, currently weighs in at 208 pounds. He wants to be 220 by the time the season arrives.

“If I was home right now, I would be all panicking because I wouldn’t know what’s to come in the summer time,” Baldwin said. “But being here early, being around the team and being around the encouragement of not only the players but the staff, as well, and just pushing myself, not only just to fill that spot as a running back, but be the best player, the best person I can be on and off the field, has really helped me and my confidence.

“It’s a huge opportunity. A lot of doors have opened for me, and we’ll see what happens.”

What both Powell and Baldwin can relay is an excitement around the program following an 8-5 season and a Gator Bowl appearance. There seems to be a hunger among the Hoosiers’ players as they seek to build off the 2019 season.

Baldwin saw it at the end of an intense workout — a workout that the freshman thought had ended, until a “finisher” was thrown the players’ way.

“I wasn’t expecting it because I’m new and we hadn’t done it yet, and I was like ‘Oh,'” Baldwin said. “Everybody was pushing each other and everybody was finishing. Everybody was tired at the end of it. Nobody let each other get on the ground. Everybody said ‘Stand up.’

“I think that’s what the mindset is this year. Everybody is going to the next level. I don’t know what happened in the past, but I can feel the sense of urgency from everyone.”

2 comments

  1. It will be a necessity to have a third big back behind Scott and James. I could see Scott declaring after this season if he has another strong showing. That seems to be the trend among college running backs nowadays. If they have the talent to play on Sunday after their junior season it is better to get paid for the physical abuse their body endures then to risk injury their senior season.

  2. It is good to hear from two of the early enrolling players and how they perceive the attitude of the returning players. If Scott is too improve enough this year to turn pro he will need to learn to get his body behind his pads to take on tacklers as too many get to his legs. I would like to see coach Hart work harder on teaching them some wiggle in their runs, something James seems to have.

    IU has some questions for the 2020 season but if the new coaches work out and our new OC and ST coaches [coaches from the staff] all work out to be better or as good as who they replaced IUFB could have a very good season in 2020. Our defense must grow up and become stouter, our OL needs to be more physical, with our new WR showing they can play as well or better than Hale and Westbrook plus we need Penix to stay healthy and Tuttle to show how good he can be.

    Spring Practice will be very important this year to get everything together for the 2020 IU football team. It would be great to see improved wins [including a couple of upsets] in 2020 with the schedule IU has.

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