Spring practice is over, here are some intriguing standouts

In the moments after Indiana’s season-ending defeat last November at Purdue, Tom Allen was still processing the abrupt ending to his team’s supposed breakthrough campaign.

As he sat inside the visitors’ locker room at Ross-Ade Stadium, the IU coach had one eye on the present — the disappointment, frustration and emptiness of falling short. At the same time, Allen knew what was coming next.

“It will be a very important offseason for us,” Allen said then. “It’s gonna be a very, very important offseason for this program.”

With significant questions at quarterback and linebacker, as well as the prospect of replacing eight senior starters on defense, Allen recognized what he had to tackle in those coming months.

Spring practice provided the second-year coach with an initial glimpse of how his 2018 squad is coming together. Although some personnel questions will linger well into August’s fall camp, the past month and a half have provided an early look at where things stand.

With that, here are some of the standout players that caught the attention of the coaching staff with their play this spring:

No. 40, REAKWON JONES
Redshirt junior, linebacker, 6-foot-2, 232 pounds
No one inside IU’s defense demonstrated more growth than Jones, who Allen said exceeded his expectations this spring. Given the Hoosiers’ immediate need to replace former All-American Tegray Scales, Jones’ emergence is a huge development at the Stinger spot. “He knew this was his time,” Allen said. “He’s been so decisive in his decision making and is such a great leader for us.”

No. 6, JAMES HEAD
Freshman, defensive end, 6-foot-5, 234 pounds
One of a handful of early enrollees, Head made the most of his introduction to college football. Simply standing on the sidelines, Head shines. His selection of a single-digit jersey number is eye-catching, as is his large, athletic frame. On the field, Head authored some impressive moments chasing down offensive skill players this month. “I’ve seen a lot of growth out of him,” Allen said. “Him being here early has been huge for him. He should still be in high school. He’s definitely flashing.”

No. 78, BRITT BEERY
Redshirt freshman, right tackle, 6-foot-6, 271 pounds
A standout defensive lineman at Carmel, Beery came to Indiana with an open mind. The Hoosiers recruited Beery with the possibility of playing on either side of the ball, and last fall, IU decided to move Beery to offensive tackle. The reason being that it can be difficult to find big, athletic bodies for that position. So far, Beery has earned praise for his length and movements there. “A guy like Britt Beery is developing,” Allen said. “He’s a young offensive lineman, and he came here as a D-lineman, moved him to offense, and he’s continued to grow.”

No. 22, WHOP PHILYOR
Sophomore, receiver, 5-foot-11, 178 pounds
The only player on IU’s roster nicknamed after Burger King’s signature hamburger, Philyor earned BTN.com All-Freshman Honorable Mention recognition last year. Given his continued production this spring, the speedy slot receiver figures to have a big role in the offense this fall. “Even though Whop played last year, Whop is a different kid,” Allen said. “He’s quicker. He’s got a burst to him that he didn’t have last year. We’ve kept track of his development, and he’s putting himself in position to be — he needs to be an absolute game-changer for us when he touches the ball.”

No. 3, PEYTON RAMSEY
Redshirt sophomore, quarterback, 6-foot-2, 211 pounds
Since joining IU’s program in 2016, Ramsey always appeared to be a confident young player. After appearing in nine games, including four starts, last fall, Ramsey applied an even higher degree of confidence to his approach this spring. “He’s a winner,” Allen said. “The kid is a winner, and he’s tough, and he cares. Here’s what I tell our football team: I want guys that I can trust. I want guys that are tough. I want guys that are dependable. And that to me defines Peyton Ramsey. That’s a young man that’s going to help this football team win a bunch of games. Whatever that role may be, he may be the starter, and I know that’s what he wants, but the bottom line is he has all those intangibles that you want in a young man.”

No. 9, MICHAEL PENIX
Freshman, quarterback, 6-foot-3, 198 pounds
It’s clear Penix has the strongest arm of IU’s current quarterbacks. Even after Arizona graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins arrives this summer, that distinction should continue to belong to the youngster from Florida. Penix impressed not only with his arm strength, but his approach to the position. There’s a lot of talent there, and he may force his way onto the field sooner than later. “He’s quite a bit further along than you’d expect him to be,” Allen said.

No. 37, AHROD LLOYD
Redshirt freshman, running back, 5-foot-11, 195 pounds
Walk-ons such as Ricky Brookins, Alex Rodriguez and Andrew Wilson have added valuable depth to the backfield in recent seasons. Lloyd may be next in line. “I’ve really been impressed with Ahrod Lloyd,” Allen said. “He came here as a walk-on from Park Tudor. Awesome kid. Runs hard. He’s been very impressive through the whole spring. He was really good for us in the fall for scout teams. (With) his quickness, power and speed, he’s been a real pleasant surprise.”

33 comments

    1. They all will, but Brandon Dawkins (graduate) all his eligibility is used up or unless Indiana gets a different offensive cord (but I do not see this happen for two to three years).

      1. By Spring 2k19 2 of the 4 soon to be competing QB’s will be gone. Just too many opportunities available for young D/T QB’s to be satisfied not getting game time.

  1. Johnny Carson would frequently say “good stuff” to new comedians.

    But it wasn’t just the laugh. A generation of comedians who saw “Tonight” as their best shot at the big time knew by heart a catalog of gestures and sounds that signaled how their performance had rated with Johnny Carson. They ranged from subtle — a wink as the comic walked offstage, a “good stuff” before the commercial break , the much-sought-after O.K. sign (which Mr. Belzer called “a gesture from God”) — to unmistakable, all the way up to the grail of Carson compliments, the invitation to sit on the couch (courtesy: New York Times).

    1. “Good stuff” is actually a football term…You guys must not watch much football…or Johnny Carson.
      When the linebacker anticipates the running back’s point of entry at the line(a.k.a. ‘the 2 hole’….’3 hole’ , etc.) and buries the back resulting in no gain or minus yardage, it’s known as a “good stuff.”
      Johnny Carson was a huge Nebraska football fan. He was from Nebraska. Actually went to the University of Nebraska. He tried to be a football letterman but would later realize he was much better at golf swings and tennis….and giving Letterman shots on television. Never mind.

  2. QB’S at IU leaving because of playing time is a reason for 500 ball and below. Respect and honor to be in program is lacking. These are 3 star with 1 4 star @80. IU qb’s are not high 4 stars and above. Better stable programs have good as or better than IU qbs setting on bench receiving his respective education. They are willing to wait until and if called upon. Yes, some do transfer but they are better qb’s than what IU has. If IU fb is going to be successful qbs have to stay and at other positions as well. A good stable of qbs or receivers can quickly turn into a shortage as seen before after an injury and then another. Then, all of a sudden your looking at a linebacker on standby to play qb. an qb’s that lack in pass or run game and fans trying to trick there brains into thinking things are going to go well called hope.

  3. Ever since his signing I have been intrigued the most by Michael Penix. Two quotes in the paragraph about him caught my attention. The first, I assume is from Mike Miller, “There’s a lot of talent there, and he may force his way onto the field sooner than later. The second from TA, “He’s quite a bit further along than you’d expect him to be.”

    If both these quotes prove to be true, things could get very interesting. I had hoped the C&C game could have been played as normal. There were at least a couple of regular posters planning to attend. Really wanted to hear their impressions regarding Penix. High hopes that he could be the real thing. If so, think we all need to keep our eyes on his development.

    Obviously don’t see him as an opening day starter, but his arm may make it impossible to keep him off the field for long. It all depends upon how fast he develops which is why the TA quote caught my attention. If Mike Miller is right, Penix wouldn’t be the first true freshman QB to get into the starting lineup. If that’s the case and he continues to develop, in a couple years he could be something special. Wouldn’t that be a pleasant change in IUFB fortunes?

    1. It will be good to see how he does in Fall camp if he can progress as much over the Summer as he did this Spring. He has put on weight and gained strength and if that continues into the Fall he will have the size to fit in with the B1G.

      The QB room will be intriguing with the addition to Dawkins as we know how Ramsey looked against VA before having nagging injuries and if Dawkins and Penix beat him out we will have very good QBs for the B1G season. If they don’t beat Ramsey out then we know we have QBs that can manage the game and give us a shot to win games. It would be tough but fun if IUFB could have a magical season that no expects in 2018.

      1. v13- May I call you the ‘Ambassador of Scoop’…?
        I know…I just left a full target for my own nickname which involves removing the ‘Amb-ador’ section.
        Disciplined. On subject. Never undermining. Supportive of Hoosier Football to near ad nauseam Where in the hell do you get off being the classiest fan this blog has ever known?

        Now that we have that out of the way…? Which QB is starting for the first snap?

        1. H4H call me anything you like and I appreciate the ambassor title but as a Marine I don’t really fit the title. I just try to be polite and use information to disagree if it is needed. Away from the Scoop I can be a lot tougher especially if people are belittling or threatening others. I would call you the Bard of the Scoop.

          I think Dawkins will be the starter with Ramsey coming in when the offense isn’t moving. I do think the coache want to red-shirt Penix but you never know it may make that impossible because of how he is developing. He could use a year as a red-shirt as he was only 40% in passing in the Spring Game.

          1. Thanks for your opinion….Now give me 50! …more opinions.

            Still say you’re Scoop’s Ambassador. I’m Scoop’s Matador… full of bull.

      2. V13,
        Thank you for the Penix assessment. I think IUFB is in a much better position in ’18 to withstand QB injuries than it has in many years. The QB roster may not have the singular standout yet as in some previous year, but that could change as the season develops. When you run an offense which calls for a mobile QB, depth is essential. No better example of this playing out than with OSU over the last few years under Urban Meyer. Higher levels of talent to date but similar issues.

        I actually think a serious 3 way competition for QB is a unaccustomed luxury for IUFB. At this point each QB brings things to the table the other 2 do not. Ramsey makes up for lack of physical ability with system familiarity and IUFB game experience. Dawkins brings exceptional running skills (unless compared to a potential Heisman candidate) and P5 experience. Penix brings a very good arm, good running ability, quick study, and probably the overall best balanced skill set.

        Short term I see Dawkins or Ramsey with the advantage, long term if he develops, Penix. I think it all depends on how quickly he adapts to P5 B1G football. The rationale for the that is in the quotes from Mike Miller and TA. Unless someone better comes along Penix is the future. Neither Dawkins or Ramsey possess next level QB talent, but Penix may. What you may have here, using a baseball analogy; is a starter, a middle reliever, and a closer.

        I think all three will be valuable contributors to IUFB both short and long term. Dawkins gives you immediate flash to compliment Ramsey’s program familiarity. This tandem buys you enough time to prepare the future with Penix. That is, unless the future is now.

  4. You know, in a perfect world…

    This could be the perfect setup. Bring in a proven QB with a great set of wheels (because that can make up for a lot of flaws), introduce Penix for a series or two assuming we can secure a couple non conference safe wins, as the season progesses see which of the two good choices we should go with.

    I can dream.