Could Camion Patrick fit at running back in 2016? #iufb

One of the best football players at Indiana may be the man stuck in the background.

Kevin Wilson often doesn’t go out of his way to extend exaggerated public praise to his players, but moments after his team won the Old Oaken Bucket game last month, Wilson was in a giving mood.

Wilson was speaking about the future as he stood outside the visitor’s locker room area at Ross-Ade Stadium, discussing the players that were on their way up in the program. That’s when he anointed junior college transfer Camion Patrick as one of IU’s next players to watch.

“The best player on the football team is Camion Patrick,” Wilson said. “You haven’t seen him yet. He’s really good. We got some guys coming.”

Patrick would have been a major contributor to this year’s bowl team, but he was unable to gain academic clearance after emerging from the summer period one credit short. Patrick and IU tried to fit a required class into an accelerated summer schedule, and although the school asked the NCAA to reconsider Patrick’s eligibility, the petition was denied a week before the season opener.

So Patrick, a highly-regarded receiver, has spent the last four months learning IU’s system, assisting the scout team and learning a new position.

The original plan was to bring Patrick into the program as an outside receiver, and allow him to use his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame to add some much-needed size and physicality to the IU passing game.

But Patrick has also seen time in the backfield, and could be a fit at running back next season — especially if current All-Big Ten honoree Jordan Howard decides to enter the NFL Draft.

No final decision has been made on Patrick’s position for next season, but he’s already giving IU a good look as part of the scout team.

“We’re gonna see,” running backs coach Deland McCullough said about whether Patrick has a future within his position group. “I need prolonged time with guys like that. I’m looking forward to it, if that’s what it’s gonna be. He’s looking forward to it. He came over and did some individual (drills) with us. I said, ‘You need some time with us, man, to make that full conversion from a great athlete and scout team running back to a (full-time) running back and being that guy.’ I definitely like what he brings to the table.”

Patrick was one of the prized recruits in last year’s February signing class. He came to Bloomington after helping East Mississippi Community College to back-to-back junior college national championships, while playing alongside Ole Miss quarterback — and one-time IU recruiting target — Chad Kelly.

Last fall, Patrick caught 42 passes for 631 yards and 12 touchdowns, while returning 17 punts for 227 yards and a 75-yard touchdown return. As a receiver, he’s built in the mold of former IU wide out Cody Latimer, but Patrick has spent his down year broadening his skill set beyond the passing game.

During Indiana’s preparation for its Oct. 3 game against Ohio State, Wilson asked Patrick to mimic Buckeyes H-Back Braxton Miller. Then, as injuries forced walk-ons Andrew Wilson and Alex Rodriguez into depth roles with the second-team offense, Patrick began seeing time at running back.

“He got over there and started killing guys,” McCullough said. “Defensive coaches would tell me, ‘Hey, you need to watch the tape of him.’ It was something to be seen, for sure. Now, it’s about taking that, harnessing it into the particulars of our offense and (doing it) as a running back and not just getting the ball and taking off running. It’s actually (understanding), ‘I have keys and there’s some pace to this. I have to do some different things.’ It’ll be exciting to see how that crosses over if the full-blown decision is to make him a running back.”

Wilson said last week that Patrick is currently splitting time between receiver and running back in practice, and the team remains high on backup running back Devine Redding. Freshman Mike Majette is also part of the mix, and the Hoosiers are also expecting to add Ohio native Cole Gest, a three-star verbal commit, to the position next year.

But the early returns on Patrick are intriguing.

“He’s got some size, some strength, and he’s got some juice,” McCullough said. “He’s got great hands and he’s very excited about that possibility, which hasn’t been finalized yet. I just want some more time with him.”

One comment

  1. This a surprising move that points to two things if it happens; they are very happy with the receivers for next year and they see a lack of depth of RB quality. His play making at WR would be enormous but they may be looking at the # of touches a WR gets compared to what a RB gets each game. Of course as a RB he could run many pass routes and get open field opportunities. At least the coaches are thinking about improving things for next year’s offense instead of standing pat.

    Something else that has come up has been Zander practicing on the scout offense as Dukes zone read QB. Hopefully the offensive coaches see the possibility of adding this as part of the offense as Zander has too much athletic ability and confidence to stand on the sideline if Lagow wins the QB job. It would really give defenses fits preparing for a game against IU.

    The Bowl game is 6 days away and I can’t wait to tune in and see how we stack up against Duke [and the ACC].

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