Allen evaluating which freshmen will continue playing

Through three weeks, Tom Allen is making the most of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule.

The Indiana coach has played 12 true freshmen so far this season, taking advantage of a rule that allows players to appear in up to four games while preserving an extra year of eligibility. With the first quarter of the season in the books, Allen is evaluating how he’ll budget time for his newcomers moving forward.

“I feel pretty comfortable saying seven or eight of those guys are probably going to keep on rolling,” Allen said. “There’s another quarter of them — three or four — we’ll see what we do with them moving forward. There’s some guys we’ve already said, you know what, probably going to be redshirting those guys. That can change. There’s still going to be opportunities.”

The most likely candidates to continue playing are the eight freshmen that have appeared in all three games: running back Stevie Scott, athlete Reese Taylor, tight end Matt Bjorson, corner Jaylin Williams, safety Devon Matthews, linebacker Micah McFadden, Husky Cam Jones and defensive back Jamar Johnson.

Quarterback Michael Penix and defensive end James Head have appeared in two games, while running back Ronnie Walker and defensive tackle Shamar Jones each debuted last week against Ball State.

Entering the season, Allen said he’d ideally like to play Penix in two games early, then bank two more in case he’s needed later in the season. Whether IU sticks to that initial plan remains to be seen.

Changing circumstances may also affect Walker.

Although it’s taken him time to learn his responsibilities inside the IU offense, the former four-star prospect impressed with his speed and strength during his time in the Ball State win. Right now, he looks like an ideal complement to Scott’s tough running style between the tackles.

Hypothetically, if Morgan Ellison’s indefinite suspension is lifted sometime soon, that could afford IU the ability to preserve Walker’s redshirt. Ellison, too, may be a candidate for a redshirt if he returns late in the season.

But it’s important to keep in mind that Allen’s redshirt plan could change as situations dictate.

Between both sides of the ball — and special teams — a few more freshmen are likely to at least make cameos later in the fall. Receiver Miles Marshall and linebacker James Miller could be two players who are afforded playing time within the four-game window as the season continues.

“We have several guys that haven’t played yet in any games that I think before the season is over we’ll play, because you have those four games you can use — could be just on the special teams,” Allen said. “That’s the beauty of the rule, you can take a guy just for special teams Week 8, 9, 10, whatever, get him on there to give us depth. If a guy gets injured, we’re trying to rest a certain position guy that’s playing a lot on offense or defense, to be able to get him on the field.

“That’s really where I think you’re going to see the true benefit of the rule is to be able to maximize those guys late in the season.”

Altogether, 24 freshmen have seen the field this season — a number that includes 12 redshirt freshmen.

The Hoosiers are the 19th youngest team in the country and the fourth-youngest team in the Big Ten, with 77 of the 116 players (66.4 percent) on the roster considered underclassmen.

One comment

  1. I love Coach Allen’s use of the younger players. If they have talent, are working hard, and can make plays, use them now!

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