Diamont ready to roll when needed

Zander Diamont felt slow and hesitant, like he didn’t trust himself. The videos that were waiting for him confirmed those thoughts.

After experiencing his first game action in a year during Saturday’s 27-22 loss to Nebraska, Indiana’s backup quarterback walked into the locker room and picked up his phone. His father, Don, watched the game from the family home in Los Angeles and sent him a couple clips that he recorded straight from the ABC telecast.

As Diamont reviewed the videos, he saw himself playing too tentative. Sure, he gave Indiana an initial jolt of energy when he entered the game as a change-of-pace option in the second quarter, but Diamont didn’t seem certain that he’d done enough.

So the junior vows to be better and deliver more complete results when he’s called upon next.

“I’ll be rolling next week,” Diamont said.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Diamont will see the field when Indiana travels to Northwestern on Saturday. IU coach Kevin Wilson wouldn’t commit to expanding the backups role in the offense, though Diamonts speed and shiftiness give Indiana a different dimension to its attack.

When he briefly relieved starter Richard Lagow on a third-and-two scenario at the Nebraska 49 on Saturday, Diamont took off running for back-to-back gains of nine yards. The Cornhuskers eventually adjusted to Diamont, who finished with 31 rushing yards and completed five of his seven passes — many of them on bubble screens — for 49 yards.

But Diamont could continue to hone a situational role over the coming weeks.

“Zander has a skill set that Rich doesn’t have and can bring some things to the table,” Indiana offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. “For us, I don’t know that it’s a full-time thing, maybe some situations during the game, but he certainly brought a spark to us on Saturday and we’ll see if we can keep that going.”

Given Indiana’s struggles inside the opponent’s 40-yard line, maybe Diamont plays a factor in the red zone? Or perhaps he’s used in a manner similar to last Saturday?

Whatever scenario is, Diamont says he’ll be ready.

And he’ll be quick, too.

“I like to roll fast,” Diamont said. “You gotta grab the helm when you’re out there. That’s just kind of my style. Me and Rich are just so different in the way that we play, I know that’s kind of what I need to bring to the table when I go out there. They know when I’m coming out to get ready to roll.”

As he’s waited to get rolling, Diamont is exercising patience.

He’s been recognized as one of IU’s top scout team performers during each of the past two weeks, helping the Hoosiers prepare for dynamic quarterbacks like Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong.

Wilson says he’s been a strong teammate, giving a nod to Diamont’s determination to wait his turn. Prior to Saturday, Diamont’s last meaningful game action came in a spot start at Penn State last October. Though Wilson waited until late August to name Lagow his starter, it appeared to be a formality after Lagow’s transfer announcement last December.

Diamont, who did show improved arm strength during fall camp, dispelled any notion that he was looking to transfer from Bloomington this summer when he tweeted that he was a “Hoosier for life.”

He understands his role in the program, and while he’s not content to merely watch from the sidelines, he has patience in the process.

“When I was younger, I would say that it was harder,” Diamont said. “As I’ve gotten older, the biggest thing is just being present, taking every day (one day) at a time, not having any expectations, knowing my role on the team. If my role is sitting on the bench and being a leader, I’m good with that if that’s going to help us win. If me going out there and playing a little bit is going to help us, I’m good with that, too. I’m just ready to roll for these guys.”

And the guys in Indiana’s locker room are ready to roll with him, too, regardless of how little or how much he sees the field moving forward.

“He’s a natural leader and you can tell just being around him,” receiver Mitchell Paige said. “He’s comfortable in a leadership position. When he comes in, there’s no drop-off like, ‘Oh no, Zander’s in.’ It’s like, ‘Zander’s in. Let’s go to work with him, too.”