Other IU notes from Big Ten Media Day

Like most other coaches, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson believes a team improves with competition for playing time and positions. Players don’t get better when they’re anointed with starting positions, but when they have to earn them.

On the offensive side of the ball, that’s happened. He’s had a quarterback battle every year he’s been the coach. Senior tailback Stephen Houston has always had someone on his heels pushing for playing time. The depth at wide receiver means even senior captain Kofi Hughes will have to fight hard this season to get one of the top three wideiout spots.

But that hasn’t been the case on defense.

“I’ve heard (IU basketball coach Tom) Crean say the easiest thing to do his first year was to get on the court because of competition and the issues,” Wilson said. “It’s been very easy to play defense here. We’ve been searching. We’ve been looking. That’s why there’s been a lot of combinations. ‘Get this corner.’ ‘Try that corner.’ ‘How about this guy?’ How about that guy?’ We don’t need depth for injuries. We need depth for competition.”

It is his hope that, whether they play immediately or not, the highly regarded true freshmen bring that to the defense.

“Guys have been playing by default,” Wilson said. “I’m encouraged and will be hopeful, which is a word I don’t like to say, that these freshmen will give us the competition we need so we can have guys earning the right to get on our defensive field and playing better football.”

Safety Greg Heban said he believes that’s happening.

“We only have new corner in Rashard Fant, but the competition at corner is better than I’ve ever seen it even though it’s almost all upperclassmen right now.” Heban said. “With the linebackers and D-Line with (Darius) Latham and (David) Kenney, they’re coming in and doing a great job competing with the D-lineman. I haven’t been around the linebackers too much, but talking to David Cooper and them, the competition there is great as well.”

Heban said he’s only seen so much of the freshmen outside of the secondary players, but is impressed by the ones that have played alongside him.

“With Antonio (Allen), it’s just his size,” Heban said. “He’s a hitter. He loves to hit. That’s something we need from the safety position. He’s got great awareness as does (Chase Dutra) Chase and Antonio both need a little technique. Coach (Doug) Mallory will get with them on that. Once they get their technique and their fundamentals down, they’ll be two great safeties.”

Cornerback Rashard Fant has also impressed him.

“He’s been doing really well,” Heban said. “He kind of came out of nowhere for me. I didn’t know he was going to surprise me that much. He’s been doing a great job out there on 7-on-7, but I’m excited. We’ve got to put a little more weight on him. He’s a little too lean right now, but a little more weight on him and he’s going to be a great player.

— Cornerback Antonio Marshall was not listed in the Indiana media guide and was not highlighted as a returning player on the defensive stats. An IU spokesman said the program will make no comment on personnel departures until Aug. 2. Marshall started seven games last season at cornerback.

— IU wide receiver Kofi Hughes said Indiana’s three quarterbacks have maintained an even battle during summer workouts, and that the team feels confident in all three.

“Through the winter, the spring and the summer, I’ve got to see them at their worst and at their best,” senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said. “I know what they’re all capable of. There’s nothing like, you know, ‘I really wish this guy would start over this guy,’ and if coach Wilson goes with a guy that we all don’t want, we’re all going to be upset. We’re equally confident in all three, just because the way they’re performing,we’re with them every day in the locker room and stuff like that. I don’t think there’s a crowd favorite on our team. … Let Coach Wilson decide that. Let him take that into his own hands, because we’ll be great with whoever.”