Allen wants Patrick to be special in 2017

Seventeen months ago, he was labeled as the best player in Indiana’s program.

But for Camion Patrick, the opportunity to live up to that hype has been limited. An ACL tear suffered in spring 2016 robbed him of a chance to play regular snaps this past season, and he was limited this spring as IU sought to ease him back to full health.

New IU coach Tom Allen sat down with Patrick last week and made the challenge for 2017 clear: show the college football world that you’re worthy of top billing and you may earn a role as Indiana’s featured running back this fall.

“My whole thing is, ‘When you’re in there, be special,'” Allen said of Patrick, who enters his senior year having seen limited action in 10 games since arriving from East Mississippi Community College in 2015. “That’s what we need him to be.”

When he was unable to gain academic clearance for the 2015 season, Patrick made the most of his year in the background. He dazzled on IU’s practice squad, earning Indiana’s Scout Team Player of the Year honors on top of four separate weekly honors that fall.

That year culminated with then-IU coach Kevin Wilson declaring after the team’s Old Oaken Bucket Game victory in West Lafayette that, “the best player on the football team is Camion Patrick. You haven’t seen him yet. He’s really good.”

When Allen arrived as defensive coordinator last spring, he saw that, too. But after Patrick suffered his knee injury midway through spring ball, getting back to that level has been a tough course to navigate.

“Ever since he’s been injured, he’s not been the same,” Allen said. “… Basically, when he spent that whole year on the scout team running over, around and past the defense, just by their own admission, he was very dominant. I think that’s where Kevin got that thought process.

“When I first got here, when he was healthy that first spring, he was doing that same thing to our defense for those couple weeks. Then, when he got hurt, he just never came back. He was never healthy. So I haven’t seen that guy.”

But Allen believes that full-strength version of Patrick may again be within reach.

Patrick, a former Tennessee commit who came to IU as a receiver, has split time between catching passes and lining up in the IU backfield. Because of his knee injury and a desire to limit wear and tear, the Hoosiers eased him back to game speed last season by playing him primarily at receiver, a lower-impact position.

He caught six passes for 154 yards, including a beautiful, highlight-worthy 40-yard touchdown pass in a November win at Rutgers. Two weeks later, he rushed four times for 10 yards and a touchdown at No. 3 Michigan.

That valiant effort against the Wolverines was a preview of what the Hoosiers hope to see in larger doses this fall. But given his injury history, is it realistic to expect Patrick can become a featured back in the Big Ten?

“History says no, but you hope he can,” Allen said. “I’ve seen guys who have had a history of injuries and, all of a sudden, they just — boom! They finally have that one year where they stay healthy. That’s the hope, for sure. The good news is we have enough guys. He doesn’t have to carry the load.”

Indeed, IU has depth in the backfield. There’s dynamic big-body back Tyler Natee, who was used most often in a customized wildcat package last season. There’s speedster Cole Gest, who impressed Allen this spring. And there’s additional versatility found in the skill sets of Mike Majette and Devonte Williams, not to mention the added muscle and stability that Ricky Brookins and Alex Rodriguez bring to the position.

Above all, the Hoosiers are hoping that they can help Patrick return to the level where he is viewed as the best player in the program.

“We gotta get him back to that,” Allen said. “There’s no question he’s a big, physical guy that ran a sub-4.4 (40-yard dash) when he was here (healthy in 2015). We just gotta get him back to that point physically and mentally.”


  1. It takes time to come back from knee reconstruction surgery. And everyone heals at a different pace. At some point, it’s more psychological than it is physical. I’m sure every Hoosier fan is pulling for him to make it all the way back and remain healthy through the entire season.

  2. I hope he is fully healthy when the season starts so we can see how good he is as a RB. He could make a big impact on the offense if he is healthy. He is big, fast, and could evade or run over a tackler. He could be the main RB with others stepping in to give him a break. He could be used as a RB and shift out to receiver making it hard for the defense to defend him and know what the offense is going to do.

    I want to see him in the backfield and watch him run especially if they develop a very good OL to block for the backs and QB. A very good OL that can keep a pocket for the QB giving him time for the routes to develop and get the ball to our talented receivers will be good for the offense. Especially if the RBs can get running room and use their talents whether it is speed or power.

    I am hoping Patrick can get healthy and stay healthy all year having a great year running and receiving.

  3. V. Hoosier fans I am sure would applaud your last statement. After C.P. injury how often do players actually reach what could have been vs. what is? I am sure he feels and realistically this is it for him (his last shot of what can be to realize what could have been). My sincere question is what are the percentages baring a significant injury of C.P. becoming the star as touted mainly by K.W.? Above or below 50%? Does V. or anyone have any thoughts?

  4. T, I don’t know about %s but Adrian Peterson came back in under a year returning to lead the NFL. Knee surgeries have gotten better results and shorter recoveries but every case is different. I think it was good they help CP out this Spring if he was having any reservations about the condition of his knee.

    from Medscape:
    Unfortunately, in our profession we have taken it to the point that our athletes seem to think that 100% of patients after ACL surgery go back to their previous level of performance in their sport. Now we have critical data that tell us only about 60%-80% of people are doing that, and that is 9-12 months after ACL surgery, not 4-6 months after ACL surgery.[1-3]

    It sounds as if coach Allen was being careful with good reason. Hopefully the extra time rehabing his knee is just what CP needed to do so he can make it through the 2017 season. According to Medscape CP has 61 – 80% chance of getting back to his top performance and I would say that is about right.

    J-shun Harris was trying to come back from his second ACL but decide to hang up his cleats as it must have been too overwhelming to go through the painful rehab again.

  5. V. Thank You for excellent perspective and info. It seems these kinds of situations to say the very least are so challenging and frustrating.

    Side Note examples: Few years ago Purdue bb player with 2 knee injuries that limited his potential during his career though he did have pretty good success. IU bb player and all American bb player in high school after knee injury during freshman year, Glenn Grunwald success was very limited several years ago.

    1. In my youth there really wasn’t an effective surgery for an ACL repair. I doubt Grunwald got anything the caliber of current techniques. If you tore your ACL you spent the rest of your life with an unstable knee. For the average person surgery was rarely attempted.

      How far we have come.

      My wife, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, had a successful ACL repair. She blew out her knee in the finals of the mid Atlantic tae kwon do championships at the tender age of 44. She was scary.

  6. just read an article from ESPN staff writer Dan Murphy and his earlier “POWER” rating of the BIG 10….he listed Indiana number 10 in the BIG 10 only ahead of Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. That would place Indiana five in the East division? I know it is very early in the season and nobody has any ideal what to expect from the IU football team this season.

  7. I read the same article and if teams see IU like that they will be surpised this year. I am sick of people seeing coach Wilson as an offensive savant but ignoring the record of DeBord with the experience and success he has had. I love our OC’s success leading UM’s Nat’l Title offense, working in the NFL, and the job he did at TN.

    If our OL and QB can be improved over 2016 then the talent we have on offense will be explosive and dangerous. Add it to our returning defense along with the emphasis of our special teams now our team will be poised to be much better than last year. Yes teams on our schedule have talent to replace their lost players but those players will be new to the field playing B1G teams. Our receiver group across the board is very good and explosive. Some of those players will be returners and could bring explosive play on the return games. Our punter is much better than last year and I hope with Allen as the coach Oakes will relax and get back to being the top kicker in the league. I think our DL will be better than people think and will have more rush from the edge with talented players. The big guys will plug up the middle and push the pocket. As Riggins and Crawford showed the secondary will be tougher this year to complete passes on or run on during the Spring Game.

    There are good things about being under rated as a team. These writers that don’t know much about our football team think our offense will be hurt by coach Wilson leaving don’t know how good a coach DeBord is and how many more weapons we have this year. Of course if the injury bug continues to hit our team we may not do as well but we have depth to counter some of the injuries if it is needed.

  8. But they do know DeBord has been successful with much better talent in the past than he’ll have plated up for his O at IU. So the Q’s will linger until he proves he is Wilson’s offensive equal on near equal turf. I wish him the best.

    1. Sure, questions will linger…all season long. That’s true if it’s a new coaching staff (anywhere at any level) or just a new quarterback.

      That’s why we watch the games.

  9. HC, based on field performance I would question how much difference there is in talent any more; yes there is a difference but not that much any more.

    Chet you are right, any change brings questions and OSU, UM, PSU, and others all have big changes [some bigger than others] this fall. MSU showed that that year as people thought they would reload and they flopped. I know IU could struggle this year but I trust coach Allen and the staff to use their ability not to let it happen.

  10. I understand you trying to build yourself cover. But your description contrasting the talent of IUFB and the talent of the top 4 teams of the B1G East is silly, almost apples to oranges. From a pure talent only position I would with selfish motives rather be HC of 1 of those 4 than IU.

  11. HC, NO I don’t need to build myself some cover as we are only giving our opinions. Yes it is easier to recruit at the top 4 schools in the B1G East but rating players is more about how it is done than what the talent level is. You are basing talent on ratings instead of performance on the field. Ratings are more based on the kids that go to the district “tryouts” by scouting groups rather than performance on the playing field IE Tronti that didn’t attend those camps because he wanted to focus on team camps to build camarderie. The team they played in the state title coached by former NFL player Pat Surtain, 3 time Pro Bowler and 11 year veteran, had seven sign with Power 5 Conference programs. That team gave up less than 12 points a game while Tronti and teammates, “lit up nationally ranked Plantation American Heritage with a secondary chock-full of future collegians to the tune of 271 passing yards, five total touchdowns and no turnovers by Tronti and scored 33 points” on them. Surtain called Tronti the best QB in Florida and maybe even better than that. I could go down a list of players that Wilson and staff recruited that were just a small step down from the top four teams in the B1G East.
    My point is that our players are just a small step down from the players on the top teams not that those team have much better talent as you say.

    1. I posted some stats a while back showing the high school rankings of the first rounders in the NFL Draft in recent years. It was dominated by former 3 star recruits.

  12. v, Very apparent you’re convinced. But I’ll not place bets on IU playing any of those 4 teams based on hopes from an opinion evaluating average talent and less than average talent as certain ‘overachievers’. I’ll take the chalk in those games. I know as much about Tronti as you. But as a Frosh he’ll most likely be irrelevant in 2017. And 2017 is what I’ve been talking about. Your assumption of proof being a list of players recruited by Wilson you chose is hollow, as I know about the players in the past and present too. Wilson successfully developed lower rated talent into ‘overachievers’, so has Allen. Leading me back to DeBord, that is not his experience. I also was not 100% won over by Wilson until his 2nd year when the toughness he was instilling in the program started to emerge. Which is what I thought was the elephant in the room of IUFB for over a decade up to then . So my biggest Q remains can DeBord make lower level talent, something he has never succeeded with in the past, ‘overachievers’? I’ll sing his praises if he does but not prematurely because of hopes and opinions.

  13. There’s more 0 star high school players than any other star group. Next, if it existed would be more 1 star players. Next, would be more 2 star players. Next, would be more 3 star players. Next, would be more 4 star players which is a much lesser group thank stars. The least populated group would be 5 stars. So,it stands to reason there would be more 3 star players in NFL than 4 and 5 star players.

  14. No matter what the discussion is regarding IU football, there is one word that sums up the optimism and pessimism surrounding the program going into next season as it does every season and has throughout its history and tradition….and that word is HOPE.

    1. Think so?

      I guess we won’t know until it happens but he looks like a great prospect to me.

  15. Who knows how Tronti will turn out, but coming out of High School as Florida’s Mr. Football is an indication that the kid is the real deal. Furthermore, I have to assume, even if he is a Defensive Coach, Allen knows more about football talent than any of us armchair quarterbacks ever will. So, if he stays healthy, humble and patient, my guess is that Tronti will play QB for IU some day.

  16. Coach Allen loves Tronti as a QB and even said in the same article that the best QB will be the starter. Tronti has a very good arm [no INTs against the State Championship team with all dbs being power 5 recruits], accurate, and only 4 INTs all year. His 3 yr stat are 63% comp 7443 yd 68 passing TD with 16 INTs in 808 attempts [1 ever 50 atgempts] over 3 years. Senior year 67% 3328 yds 34 passing TDs/19 running TDs and only 4 INTs in 325 attempts which is 1 per 81 attempts. He is team focused not focused on himself and works hard [according to his coach] to be the best he can be. IU has a gem of a QB recruit and it will be fun to see how he develops in college.

  17. I think it is reasonable to say that ‘Mr. Football’ in Florida carries the same level of expectations that ‘Mr. Basketball’ in Indiana does.

  18. IUFB’s on-field talent may now be within shouting distance of the rest of the B1G East’s on-field talent, but unfortunately, after the meat-grinder gets turned on in September, a significant part of everybody’s November on-field talent will have been September’s on-bench talent. I’d love to see an analysis over the years of how teams’ final standings correlate to the number of quarters missed by starters on account of injuries in a season. 22 starters x 4 quarters x 12 games = 1056 quarters. That is, is there a statistically significant relation in the final standings between teams that complete the season with, to throw out a number, 1000+ “starter-quarters” compared to teams with 900+ starter-quarters? Team A with 56 quarters missed would be one starter out for the whole season and another guy out for a couple of games; Team B with 156 starter-quarters missed would be three starters out for the season and another guy missing a couple of games. Or some kind of breakdown like that. I was a classics major, so I’m not going to try it, but how about it you statistical types out there?

  19. davis, your point is interesting. It’s not the talent level of IU’s starters, it’s the depth of talent that often determines wins and losses throughout the Big Ten season. Depth for when a starter goes down with an injury, and depth that creates competition for playing time throughout the year. IU’s starting talent is improving, but the question remains, how much depth does IU have? If our best linebacker was available for last year’s bowl game, would the outcome have been different?

  20. Thanks, PO. A variable which my “formula” omitted was special teams, but you could include two more positions (punter and kicker) to help adjust for that. Kicker, in fact, might have to be given a bigger weight; the drop in performance by the 2d kicker is probably greater than other 2d stringers.

    There is some kind of info out there re: pro sports. It doesn’t cover college fb, so I didn’t pay the fee to subscribe and thus can’t say whether it gives a correlation between blown ligaments and W-L records, although it does have a metric “IIT (Injury Impact to Team).”

    It seems logical enough that the less September starters end up playing, the poorer the record at the end of the season- but is it so? The accepted popular wisdom is that “diverse” organizations are better organizations and that playing a lot of violent video games produces violent teenagers, but unless something has popped up lately, there isn’t any hard data to support either supposition.

    1. I suppose it would depend on the model you hope to follow. If want to emulate Apple, Cintas, Tesla, Microsoft, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, Google, Intel, Verizon, AMD, to name a few, then diversity is the route to take.

      If that’s not the model you want to follow then diversity is not the route to take.

  21. Yes, it will be great to see how Nick Tronti develops….but IMO if he was this great prospect as a QB, Mr. Tronti would have never made it north of the Mason Dixon line to IUFB. Nick Tronti was Mr Football in Florida….Almost every school/university in the south needs a quarterback, some schools are taking Purdue transfers to play QB. Regardless that he did not go to the district tryouts, are you telling the IU fan that Indiana was the only power 5 school to see his talent (Arizona was late to the party, but Rich Rodriguez likes a QB that runs before throwing, that’s one of the reason he got ran out of Michigan). I just do not see Nick Tronti as the answer to IU QB situation. An as far as Mike Debord is concern did he really help Joshua Dobbs….the Tennessee offensive was explosive but Joshua Dobbs had is career high in INT in his senior year. An the NFL experts advise that his footwork needed lots of help. If Mike could not correct Joshua Dobbs footwork, why do we expect miracles with Richard Lagow.

    1. Do we?

      I believe if RL demonstrates a reasonable amount of maturity going into his senior year and second year with the Hoosiers along with consistent, perhaps improved, play from the defense and the special teams performing better than deplorable then they will be successful.

      No miracles required.

  22. Most universities sign QBs early so when a player like Tronti blossoms late they aren’t pursued like he would have been earlier. It also depends on what shcool a player plays for because coaches can’t make it to every HS. Allen found out about him through his Florida connections as a top player overlooked by other schools. Arizona came in late on Tronti but he shut down visits after coming to IU.

    Look at Drew Brees and how many pursued him when he was in HS. Even the Texas schools didn’t go after him due to his height and what ever other reasons they had. Many schools just won’t look at a QB that is only 6’2″ unless they are exceptionally fast. Recruiting is a crap shoot in many cases. I once had a 6’4″ 190 lb QB that started all 4 years and was D1 Talent. Because we were a small school in Southern Indiana he didn’t get any colleges to come in despite me contacting a number of them. He went to ISU because he didn’t go to camps and schools were worried he would choose basketball.

  23. I agree that recruiting can be a crap shoot. However, for the better to top to best programs the crap shoot is is much lesser percentage wise, respectively. In the IU program historically speaking in many cases at a much higher percentage recruiting is exactly that; a crap shoot hoping for players to develop and over achieve or reaching to his full or more than his full potential. To many of these recruits vs. higher level recruits like the better and best programs get year after year equals IU having the least competitive program in big ten as its tradition among teams who have been in big ten for many years.

  24. t, you are right about the difference between the top programs and programs like IU. The top programs have a lot of top players so if any don’t play up to their level there are other top players to step up and play. Teams like IU must hit on players that will play above their level because if any don’t get there there aren’t usually any other players with as much talent to step in and take over.

    With the competition in football I am still amazed that so many 5 and 4 stars all go to the same programs year after year. Many sit at those colleges because they have someone to play in your position. I would think many would like to go and play from their first season on but it is clear that isn’t what motivates them. I do know getting on a team with a chance to win Championships has a big draw for the 5 and 4 stars.

    Hopefully, this is the year for a breakthrough so players see IU as another place to come to and have a chance to win championships. Whatching BTN program about the NU team that went to the Rose Bowl shows how a coach staff has to find top players that care about being part of changing the program so they can win championships. IU under Coach Wilson showed you only have so much time to get those players to win championships before other players start saying you talk about winning but you aren’t winning. The last two classes that were Wilson’s players were down. Nate’s last year was really Wilson’s chance to bring in better players but the team didn’t win enough to convince players to come in. As a result the next two classes were down. This class graduating was the highest rated class under Wilson so it is important for coach Allen and staff to win this year to get recruiting up into the top 25. It will be a real tough job to get top players if IU can’t have a winning year.

  25. Good analysis. I think when Wilson looked like he was sometimes calling questionable plays on offense in reality he was just trying to take the players he had and figure out a way to win the game. It did not work very often and he did not have the luxury of enough really top talented play makers to execute the play that often make coaches from top rated programs look good. (Recruiting). I think a ceiling for IU to strive for would be about 33% 4 star recruits and 67% 3 star recruits that would actually stay in program for 4 years with an exception here and there. Very few 4 star recruits actually stayed with program 3 years let alone 4 years. Has IU ever had a 5 star recruit for his true position except for Dave Schnell.

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