Fitzgerald making early impression with IU

Soon after Bryant Fitzgerald committed to Indiana in January 2016, then-defensive coordinator Tom Allen issued a directive to his new colleagues.

“We’ve got to hang on to this guy,” Allen said.

At the time, the Hoosiers had one eye on wrapping up their 2016 recruiting efforts and another on laying a foundation for the 2017 cycle. To Allen, Fitzgerald’s verbal pledge signified the cornerstone commitment for the future.

Fitzgerald’s performance during his senior season affirmed Allen’s belief that the Avon athlete was a priority recruiting target. In fact, Allen believed Fitzgerald was the best high school player in the Hoosier state.

Now on IU’s campus, Fitzgerald is beginning his college career as a hybrid safety in Allen’s defense. And one week into fall camp, Fitzgerald is demonstrating why Allen placed so much stock in his potential more than a year before.

“He’s just different,” Allen said. “I knew he was a really, really special player.”

Fitzgerald did a little bit of everything for the Orioles, earning all-conference honors as well as recognition as Avon’s most valuable player, defensive MVP and hardest hitter.

On Indiana’s depth chart, Fitzgerald is behind sophomore Marcelino Ball at the “Husky” hybrid safety spot. But Fitzgerald could factor on special teams this season, as well as relieve Ball from playing too many snaps. Former junior college transfer Jayme Thompson may also contribute in that regard.

If coaches deem Fitzgerald ready to contribute, he will play — no matter his age or class.

“He understands what he’s supposed to do,” safeties coach Noah Joseph said. “It’s hard if you can’t play football and don’t understand the game and the angles. To me, it’s really difficult to teach that. We try, but it’s difficult. He has that. He’s just a football player.”

4 comments

  1. Fitzgerald has been a valuable recruit for IU, first ikn working hard to bring in more Indiana playes to IU. Now it souds as if he is physically he will be a valuable recruit for IU. I have to disagree with coach Joseph a bit as I worked hard every practice to teach my DBs to be aware of their position on the field and in relationship to the offensive players. Of course the difference probably was the result of running zone defenses to IU’s reliance on man defense.

    Our defense is getting stronger and stronger as coach Allen and staff bring in players with talent to excel. I like the increase in size up front with speed rushers on the edge. More athletic LBs with a Husky that doubles as DB/LB, Safeties that are the size that could gain weight to play LB, and cover corners. Just think this defense was coached by the same position coaches except the DL having coach Hagen coach them. All the criticism of IU’s defense and secondary is diminished with a new system and new focus on different skills. I hope they continue the transition and become a top 25 defense or better this year.

  2. If IU’s defense finishes the season in the top 25 defenses in the country, IU will produce a winning season. If the defense is that good, IU’s offense would only have to be “pedestrian” and not turn the ball over. And I happen to think that IU’s offense will be better than pedestrian. Lagos’s experience and focus on reducing INTs will make a huge difference, and there is too much talent and depth in IU’s receiving core for it not to be a good offense.

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