Wilson talks running backs and young receivers #iufb

Indiana running back Devine Redding takes a handoff during IU's spring game on April 15. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
Indiana running back Devine Redding takes a handoff during IU’s spring game on April 15. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
Devine Redding is ready to accept more responsibility in Indiana’s backfield.

His approach to practice speaks to that.

“Dan Feeney is our best, (most) consistent practice player,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “Devine, maybe, is next. He comes every day. He gives you what he’s got, he has a great attitude, he takes a lot of what coach (Deland) McCullough emphasizes in fundamentals in the chalk room, in the film room, he takes it to the field and he has come a long way. He’s a solid player.”

After rushing for 1,012 yards as a sophomore and coming on strong down the stretch in place of injured starter Jordan Howard, Redding is positioned to lead IU’s stable of running backs into a new season.

But he won’t carry the load on his own.

Wilson sees upwards of six or seven running backs in the mix to play early this season, so while Redding is in line to get the start, the carries will likely be spread around when Indiana kicks off the new year at Florida International on Thursday.

“We’re gonna play a lot of backs,” Wilson said. “Devine is our most experienced, our most consistent one. Not that there’s a competition, I just expect several backs to play. I expect our running game to hopefully continue to be strong.

“I don’t know if it will be individually led as it was a couple years ago with Tevin (Coleman) and last year when Jordan started. Devine’s doing great, but we’re also very, very fortunate that it’s a very, very good position group for our football team.”

Devonte Williams, who played corner as a freshman at IU last fall, closed preseason camp on a positive note. Mike Majette also looks solid entering his sophomore year, and Wilson said again on Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference that freshman Cole Gest projects as a dynamic player in the IU offense.

Wilson also gave another nod to the power game, fronted by Clyde Newton and Tyler Natee.

The 280-pound freshman Natee has already aquired a nickname in the IU running backs room.

“We call him Big Bacon,” Newton said. “That’s my main bro. We’re big backs. We run through people.”

Players on the mend

Injuries prevented junior college transfer Jayme Thompson and four-star freshman receiver Jonah Morris from showcasing themselves during the month of August.

Now Wilson is looking to see what they can handle.

In Thompson’s case, Wilson doesn’t expect the hybrid safety to play much against FIU, but hopes to have him back in the mix either against Ball State on Sept. 10 or after the open date against Wake Forest on Sept. 24.

“He’s back at practice, and he just missed the first couple weeks so he’s a little behind,” Wilson said.

The same goes for Morris, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Ohio native who committed to IU in January. Wilson said Morris suffered an injury on the first day of practice and is working to catch up.

In addition to Morris, fellow freshmen receivers Phil Benker and Kiante Enis are also trying to get up to speed.

“Those guys are talented enough to play, but right now we’ll see how this year goes,” Wilson said. “Maybe they’re redshirted, maybe they’re playing. So (Morris) is doing well, good start, but fell a little bit behind with the minor injury that cost him a couple days of practice.”