Hoosiers de-Friend tight end position — for now

Danny Friend is no longer a tight end.

At least for the time being.

The Indiana redshirt senior moved to offensive tackle this week in an effort to ease him back from injuries that have limited him during recent months. Friend missed all of spring practice while recovering from postseason surgery on an undisclosed injury, and his mobility at tight end this month was not where it had been during previous seasons.

So IU coach Tom Allen and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord devised a plan.

“Coach Allen and I were talking about personnel overall and Danny’s been fighting through a little injury there that he’s been working (through),” DeBord said. “First of all, he’s a great person and he’s been working real hard, but it’s gonna take him a little bit of time to get back.

“We talked about depth and where he can help us the most. Coach called him in and, typical of Danny Friend, he goes, ‘Yes, however I can help this football team.’ So that’s how he’s gonna help us.”

The move makes sense on a couple levels. In addition to Friend working back from injury, he’s built a reputation as more of a big blocker than a pass catcher. Last season, he made seven catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns.

With DeBord guiding the offense, the Hoosiers appear likely to get their tight ends more involved in the passing game than they have been since Ted Bolser’s senior year in 2013. In that regard, athletes like Ian Thomas, Peyton Hendershot and Austin Dorris, among others, seem to be better fits in this offense.

With right tackle Brandon Knight out for the bulk of camp so far, Indiana could also benefit from additional depth on the offensive line.

“With his physical state right now, I think it’s a good match for him,” Allen said. “We’re just gonna kind of see. Did it a few days ago just to see what it would look like. He’s got such a great attitude. He just wants to do whatever we’ve got to do to win.”

Could Friend return to his natural position? It’s possible.

“We might get him in there in some tight end stuff in short yardage, or things like that,” DeBord said.

Meanwhile, Allen said he has been pleased with the progress that Knight has made while recovering from his injury. Entering preseason camp, Allen said it was his hope to get Knight back on the field sometime this month.

“Got a great report yesterday on him,” Allen said. “I continue to be very, very optimistic about his progress. I think he’s right on schedule.”