Hoosiers taking shape as off-season continues

Indiana both added and lost pieces to its roster this week.

When the spring semester started on Monday, the Hoosiers officially welcomed six newcomers, while also losing a special teams contributor.

Quarterback Mike Penix, running back Ronnie Walker, defensive end James Head and receiver Jacolby Hewitt, each of them freshmen, stepped onto campus as students and began working out with the program. They were joined by graduate transfer Nick Linder, a center from Miami, and linebacker T.D. Roof, a sophomore who will be eligible for spring practice after recently transferring from Georgia Tech. Roof will sit out the 2018 season, per NCAA transfer rules

At the same time IU was adding to its locker room, it also lost primary kick returner Devonte Williams, who announced this weekend that he will transfer to Football Championship Subdivision program Southeastern Louisiana State.

Two weeks into January, the Hoosiers are well into the first quarter of the calendar year, moving pieces within their roster and coaching staff, while also gearing up for the second signing period and the start of spring ball.

“We are excited about the start of this spring semester,” Tom Allen said Sunday, offering an update on the program’s off-season happenings. “Our coaches will be out recruiting these next several weeks and the young men are working extremely hard in the weight room getting ready for the best spring we’ve ever had here.”

It’s already been a busy month for the Hoosiers, as they implement a new strength and conditioning program under the guidance of new strength coach David Ballou and his recently-hired assistant, Matt Rhea. IU also shuffled its coaching staff, adding new linebackers coach Kane Wommack as the program’s 10th assistant and shifting former linebackers coach William Inge into a new role as special teams coordinator.

After finalizing the coaching staff and continuing with roster management, IU now has a few key dates on the immediate horizon.

— The spring signing period opens Feb. 7, though the Hoosiers are mostly done with their recruiting after signing 23 high school seniors on the first day of the new early signing period in December. Allen said Indiana could sign a handful of players — a mixture of high school prospects and transfers — during the spring window, though the exact number is a moving target

— Spring practice begins on March 3 and the annual spring game at Memorial Stadium is April 14. Both are Saturdays.

“I’m excited about our team as they began training this week and finished Week No. 1,” Allen said. “As we move through, we’ll have a nine-week cycle in the weight room, increasing our strength and our speed and allowing us to do a tremendous job in that area.”

4 comments

  1. I think the changes in the program will pay dividends this season and down the road. Coach Ballou and Dr Rhea bring a scientific detailed approach to strength training. IU will be adding a new supervisor of nutrition on board.

    Williams saw his RB reps decline and Whop started taking KO returns late in the year so it looked like Williams playing time was diminishing. I wish him well but think IU will be more dynamic on KO returns in 2018 with Whop, Reese, Walker, or one of the incoming WRs returning the ball.

  2. v13, while I appreciate your optimism about the new conditioning coach, the best news this off-season for IU football has been the 2018 recruiting class. And my hope is that this class gets even better through the addition of more transfers and some excellent poaching. If I were in charge of recruiting for IU, I’d be contacting every player who has yet to sign a LOI, who verbally committed to FBS schools that have had a coaching change since the end of the regular season. Players yet to sign with Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and UCF would be my targets. And you might find some value in 3-star players previously committed to schools like Kent State, Rice, SMU and South Alabama. I want Allen to recruit the way he coaches defense, focusing on every opportunity to get “take-aways.”

  3. There are a handful of 5-star players and dozens of 4-star players that have yet to sign LOIs. And that’s not to mention 3-star recruits. Assuming the 5-star players are out of IU’s reach, I have to believe a couple more promising players could be convinced to play for IU. And you’ve got guys like Xavier Peters and Trevor Trout, both highly rated players from the midwest (St. Louis and Ohio) who have yet to sign with the schools they previously committed to. Goodness knows that IU has been ruthlessly poached in past years, it’s time we begin turning the tables.

  4. Po, it would be nice if IU can pull a few of those better players from the “big boys” to pay back the ones IU has lost in the past to the “big boys”. The 2018 class is exciting and may get more exciting after the Feb signing day. It is really exciting that 4 of the 2018 players are already in school and will go through Spring Practice. All four have a chance to play in 2018 and getting in early gives them a leg up over the other freshman.

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