NOTES: Hoosiers off to fast start this spring

While watching film and discussing Indiana’s first practice of the spring on Saturday evening, Tom Allen and his IU coaching staff noticed something important.

The Hoosiers’ off-season focus on revamping their approach to strength and conditioning is already producing results.

Although Indiana is only two practices into the spring, Allen believes he’s beginning to see the early results from IU’s shift in training. Developing speed and explosiveness is at the core of Indiana’s new strength and conditioning model, and Allen likes what he’s seeing so far.

“The emphasis on the way we’ve trained and the change of direction and isolating the legs individually, you notice that in your change of direction and your burst,” Allen said after Sunday’s practice. “That’s what you’ve seen already.”

And that’s what he hopes to continue seeing in larger doses as the spring continues and once preseason camp commences later this summer.

Across the past three-plus months, spanning the end of the 2017 regular season to the start of the spring season this past weekend, Hoosiers are beginning to enjoy the payoff to their off-season work, both in terms of speed and physical strength.

Offensive lineman Harry Crider is among those seeing the most impressive gains. Crider, a rising sophomore, has added 19 pounds to his 6-foot-4, 309-pound frame from the start of last season. Allen has also been pleased with the gains made by defensive tackles Ja’merez Bowen and Mike Barwick, along with those of hybrid safety Isaac James.

“There’s been pretty dramatic increases in all areas,” Allen said. “We’re going to share (the various numbers) with our guys to show them. They feel it, for sure, but when you see it on paper it gives more of an exclamation point to what we’re doing, and shows you how much progress we’re making.”

Receivers returning to action

After missing all of last season due to an ACL injury suffered on the opening kickoff of the first game vs. Ohio State, Nick Westbrook was back on the field catching passes this past weekend.

Although he’ll proceed through the spring in non-contact mode, Westbrook is on track to be in the lineup for the upcoming season. The redshirt junior earned All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition in 2016 after leading IU with 995 receiving yards, six touchdowns and 18.4 yards per catch.

“He’s probably the one that has made the most progress,” Allen said. “… (He’s) way, way ahead of schedule. He’s healed extremely well. That’s great to see. Really happy for him because I know he’s worked so hard to get back.”

Allen is also hopeful that Westbrook’s classmate, Donavan Hale, will also be back on the field when the Hoosiers return from next week’s spring break.

Hale played in only three games last season after suffering an unspecified injury. He and Westbrook each received redshirts.

Fifth-year senior J-Shun Harris is also working his way back after suffering his third career ACL injury in an October loss at Maryland.

“J-Shun is working, but his (recovery) is gonna be a lot longer,” Allen said. “His was a little later and having a third one, that’s tough.”

Position movement

Jonah Morris is the only Hoosier moving from one side of the ball to the other this spring.

Morris, a former four-star receiver prospect, is working out at safety to help build depth at the back end of IU’s secondary.

Elsewhere, there have only been a few tweaks to positions.

Allen wants Crider, who played in eight games at center as a true freshman last fall, to spend this spring working at guard. With the arrival of graduate transfer Nick Linder, who started 25 games in three seasons at Miami, Indiana appears set at center.

That gives IU the ability to get Crider some work elsewhere with the hopes of keeping him involved and improving depth, should a need arise.

“He’s already established himself at center and knows how to play that position,” Allen said. “We’ve really tried to say this spring was going to be a priority to get him a lot of reps at guard.

“That was an area last year that we struggled with at times when we started getting some guys injured. You can’t have enough of those guys that are versatile enough to play multiple positions, so we’re going to get him a lot of reps there.”

Meanwhile, James, who moved from receiver to safety midway through last season, is sticking at the “Husky” hybrid safety spot.


  1. Don’t understand how James did not project successfully into the past offenses but moving him to Husky is a good fit for the physically talented player. He’ll do well there just as the equally talented Ball has.
    Really a Q in my mind as to whether Heard did not want JM at WR or Allen wanted him more at S. There doesn’t appear to be a deficiency of #’s on the roster at DB(S). He’ll certainly excel at S but he’s the WR big body the staff cherishes to backfill behind Cobb’s departure and then Hale and Westbrook. Just a strange happenstance after spending 2 years at WR.

  2. It is good to hear the guys are really improving already. It is clear the coaches are excited about this group of players and their abilities.

    HC, according to people that saw practices Morris never developed very good hands which is why they made the move to defense. He was a second team HS All-American on defense but Wilson’s staff wanted to make him a receiver they just couldn’t get his hands good enough. I was surprised about the move of James to defense but he seems to be doing well there.

  3. Pretty typical of what is said from many coaching staffs of many programs in all sports trying to build momentum, maintain a positive attitude and culture. For IU; K.W. recruiting players with more girth and we look more like a major college team, Sam Wyche moving forward to the point of putting a forward slant on IU logo, Cam Cameron and the black helmets, and Gerry DiNardo setting standard for speed as players had to run the 40 under a certain time to be on team. (not sure how that exactly worked). All positive except 7 wins. Go Hoosiers.

Comments are closed.