Robinson, Thornton moving around on defense #iufb

A couple Hoosier defenders are moving to different spots this fall.

Sophomore Leon Thornton has moved from corner to safety and his classmate, Jacob Robinson, is playing back and forth between defensive end and tackle.

For Thornton, it’s the third position he’s played in the last year. He arrived on campus last summer as receiver, but switched to corner prior to IU’s Nov. 21 game at Maryland as injuries decimated the team’s depth chart in the defensive backfield.

Considering the late move to defense, Thornton played well down the stretch and logged 10 tackles, including seven solo stops.

“I think the recent move to safety has been a real good one for him,” defensive coordinator Tom Allen said. “He’s a big kid. He’s 200 pounds. He’s over 6-feet tall and as a safety, he’s a really good cover guy for us. He’s physical.

“We needed some depth there at that position and we got some other guys that are dinged up. I’m really pleased actually. Yesterday he got some good reps and today he got some more reps. That’s what it’s gonna take, guys like that that have his great ball skills. He used to be a receiver. He just wants to get on the field. I’m really encouraged by his ability to step up and fill a void there.”

I’ll have a bit more on Robinson as part of a story on IU’s defensive line that I’m writing for later today. He’s still playing some on the end, but IU coaches think enough of his versatility to try him inside at the three technique.

“You’d like to be able to solidify him a little bit in one or the other, but I think his skill set is such that at the end of the day, he’s gonna do both,” Allen said. “It’s gonna be situational, as well. He’s a big end and a little bit undersized three technique, but he’s so athletic and he plays so hard.

“He’s another guy that is completely bought in. Everything that you ask him to do, it’s ‘Yes, sir.’ He’s 100 miles an hour. Very versatile is the way I’d describe him and you need guys like that, both as a player and as a person. He’s a tremendous leader for us.”


  1. Both moves make sense but I really like the Thornton moving to safety as that position requires coverage skills and physicality. I think he will excel at that position. Robinson is a needed move with the injury to McCray. I hope there are any more major injury issues heading into the game at Miami against FIU.

  2. I’m going to be curious to see how Robinson handles the move. Personally, I think I’d feel more comfortable with him at end. I’d rather put Green and Hoff at the two tackles, then see if Mike Barwick and Jerome Johnson are up for rotating in as depth. I just think it’s a lot to ask of Robinson, who’s never played inside and has only practiced there since the first day of camp. But, like you say, it’s probably necessary with the injury to McCray. And who knows about Barwick, though it sounds like coaches like the way he’s come on during the first two weeks of camp. Just another storyline to follow — or another question for IU’s D-line to answer.

  3. That feels more like a move to be on 3rd downs have some quickness on obvious passing downs

  4. Mike, How has Ja’merez Bowen looked at practice. I remember from the Spring practices Coach Hagen told Coach Allen that Bowen was like the guys they coached in the SEC. Coach said he was raw because he hasn’t played defense since high school but thought he could be really good this year. Have you noticed him on the practice field or is there some reason he hasn’t been talked about this Fall.

  5. v13, he’s been out there, but quite honestly, I just haven’t noticed a whole lot. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to watch a few more practices before they lock it down for game week prep. Meantime, here’s a recent quote from Hagen on Bowen:
    “He’s a big, athletic kid. Early in spring, he was very, very raw. I was — I don’t want to say I was concerned, but he had a long ways to go. He’s really improved a ton from Day 1 to Practice 15. He’s one of our most improved players. Because we flip-flop our inside guys and we play with a tackle and a nose, he’s a guy that can really do both for us, athletically.”

  6. Mike, did Bowen get any playing time in 2014 when he was at Cinci? If not, that could explain why, after two years of not playing (he had to sit out last season due to his transfer) Hagen would have found him “very, very raw” during spring practice. He was a coveted player coming out of HS, and his current 6’4″ 308 lbs. frame should serve him well as he continues to shake off the rust and develop technique. Hopefully, he’ll get some playing time during the first three games of this season and continue to develop at an accelerated pace.

  7. Po, no, hasn’t played a down, though I think the “raw” comments were made in regard to his inexperience on the D-line. Former OT only began practicing there during Pinstripe Bowl practices.

  8. Mike, thanks for the insight into where Bowen is now. He is a wild card for the DL and if he develops could help make this front much better than expected. He sure has the size IU needs and a football players figures out how to play so he can survive and excel so I expect to hear from him this season.

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