Hendershot aiming for every inch

Throughout the season, Indiana’s two Peytons have been closely linked.

The quarterback, Peyton Ramsey, walks out of the locker room first to short-toss pregame. Tight end Peyton Hendershot joins him, standing a few yards away, pumping his arms to simulate a stride before each catch.

Hendershot and Ramsey have always arrived early, and now they are staying late. Practices are underway for the Hoosiers’ Jan. 2 bowl game, and it was Ramsey throwing to Hendershot as a Saturday morning session at IU’s indoor facility wrapped up.

“I’ve spent so much time catching extra balls after practice, before games, everything, just so he can depend on me,” Hendershot said. “If the ball comes to me, I’m making every inch of my opportunity.”

Coming into this season, there was an expectation that tight ends would see a large share of targets in Kalen DeBoer’s offensive system. By capitalizing on every catch for every inch, Hendershot has mustered a breakout season.

As a redshirt freshman, the Tri-West alum had 15 catches for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As a sophomore, he has more than tripled his catches and yards, to 46 and 555, respectively. He’s doubled his touchdown figure with four.

That production earned Hendershot honorable mention to the All-Big Ten team. But if it isn’t already apparent from the tight end’s pregame and post-practice rituals, he isn’t completely satisfied by what he’s accomplished.

He thinks he can be more explosive after the catch, gaining a few more yards before defenders reel him in. He’s gotten compliments from the coaching staff for his run-blocking, but Hendershot believes he can be better there, too.

“It just shows what I did (in 2019), it was a good step, but I gotta do more, because I want to be an All-Big Ten, tight end of the year,” Hendershot said. “Next offseason, work harder, get better, and hopefully accomplish another goal next year.”

And that’s the beauty of the Hoosiers’ pre-Gator Bowl preparation. It allows athletes like Hendershot, and his even younger teammates, time to continue to hone their craft through the calendar year.

IU coach Tom Allen was asked Friday whether it’s essentially like another “spring practice” round, just in December.

“We are a very young football team, so we got a lot of young guys that are in the ones and twos. But then we’re really young when you start getting to the guys that go with our threes and fours,” Allen said. “So yes, we want to get a lot of work in, get those guys a ton of reps and treat it like you, basically, have two spring balls now.”

Hendershot hasn’t had the benefit of bowl prep in the past, because the Hoosiers haven’t been in the postseason. As a redshirt, he didn’t really get to play until spring ball.

That’s where Hendershot can see a benefit for his younger teammates, such as freshman tight end Gary Cooper, who has played in three games and can play in the bowl without burning his redshirt.

“My freshman year, I didn’t get to play until spring ball. That’s a lot of snaps that you miss,” Hendershot said. “Gary, his first year, it’s going to be big for him, for the upcoming year. It’s just big that we still get to practice and still be together and have fun.”

IU’s 8-4 football season has obviously been a fun experience for Hendershot, who played a big role in getting the Hoosiers where they are. Down to the very last drive of the regular season versus Purdue.

In the second overtime, on a third-and-10, Ramsey found his ever-reliable tight end for a 14-yard gain. Hendershot, who had spent much of the day pass-blocking, found himself wide open on a tight end delay underneath.

Ramsey won the game on the next play, on a one-yard sneak across the goal line. After the game, Hendershot had friends and family members asking why he didn’t reach for that extra yard and score himself.

“I didn’t want to risk it, because if I fumbled on the 1 yard line, I would have been, like, devastated,” Hendershot said. “I took it safe and the next play, we scored, and it ended up how we wanted it to be.”

It had already been an emotional rollercoaster of a game, especially with the pass that bounced off of Brycen Hopkins’ knee and floated into Jackson Anthrop’s hands for a 23-yard gain on third-and-13 in the first overtime.

“I’ve never had so much fun playing football than that game. After, I was tearing up,” Hendershot said. “That’s, like, my favorite football game I’ve ever played. We are up three touchdowns or whatever. They come back, and when the ball hit the guy’s knee and they caught it, I was like ‘We are going to lose.’ All the odds are against us.

“And we found a way to fight back and win it.”

Now it’s up to the Hoosiers to try and find a way to beat a Southeastern Conference opponent, Tennessee, in the Gator Bowl. If they can, it will mark the program’s first nine-win season since 1967.

So, of course, Hendershot was catching balls from Ramsey after practice had officially concluded. If the ball comes his way, he’ll be ready. If not, Hendershot understands.

A tight end can’t be greedy. IU has playmakers all over the field.

“We got so many people, so how can you be mad when we are winning football games and everyone is playing good?” Hendershot said. “I was just happy for us to get eight wins and hopefully get this ninth and set history around here.”

13 comments

  1. Now, there’s an excellent understanding attitude and teammate having a great time with his college football career. It matches TA, staff and IU football program.

  2. Hendershot has a good chance of 1st team All B1G by his senior year. Sounds like he is a great team player by being satisfied with a 1st down at the 1 rather than risking a fumble by trying to reach the ball across the goal line.

    Kalen Deboer has used the tight end to great success this year. Sure hope he sticks with IU for at least 1 or 2 more years.

    Has anyone else decided to go to the Gator Bowl? I got an email Thursday from the IU ticket office informing me that my request for 8 Club Level tickets could not be filled, and that instead I would receive the next level of tickets and a refund for the difference in price. It’s a bummer for me, but a good sign that they sold out all the club level seats most likely with season ticket holders and athletic department donors. About all I can claim is being a lifetime Alumni Association member since 1967, and that doesn’t mean much!

    I was able to get a junior suite with two bedrooms at the riverfront Hyatt, so that will be good as it it is within walking distance of the stadium and is supposedly the headquarters (whatever that means) for both Indiana and Tennessee.

    If any posters want to stop by Wednesday evening, I’ll buy you a beer!

  3. Ranger67, have fun at the game as I will watch it on TV since I can’t travel that distance any more. Hendershot has been given a shot to show what he can do this year and he took good advantage of that chance. I want to see him become more physical and violent in his run after catch along with his blocking. If coach DeBoer comes back for a couple more years Hendershot has a shot to develop into a all-Big TE over the next two years.

  4. Belicheat and the Patriots at it again. DUH!! Spygate #3 (they’ve been caught at)(how many others???). NFL will issue another pass instead of disciplining and seriously penalizing planned near criminal behavior. And to think the NFL is death against gambling(so they proclaim). Fine Belicheat $2m and suspend him for 2 full seasons and fine the Patriots $10m forfeit all SB crowns and this kind of crap will become poison to even think about.

    1. The NFL has soften their tone on gambling quite a bit. If they were so against it, I don’t think they would be letting a team move to Vegas.

  5. Naive. If you go far enough to top of pyramid (you don’t have to go that far up) they are elitetists and in it together. Sadly, much of society is addicted. NFL is a corrupt organization as is all professional sports. Another example of Big Time Wrestling. Modern Mafia.

  6. Speaking of corruption; movie, music industry/entertainment and political of all kinds and religion. Yes, we live in a corrupt world including our own society.

    1. Heard on the radio this morning that Indiana took in something like 2.7 million in tax revenues for the first three months of online gambling kicking off in this state. Seemed like a small amount for the reported 147 million in bets. Somebody is making some very big profits…..

      Indiana projects about 9 million in revenue for the entire year….Hell, Brohm almost makes that in one season. So, so many millions continually gambled away…? Who eats the cost and the cost to society? 30 million gambled away on our last basketball coach….More millions to follow. Meanwhile, college costs go up, up, up….Disposable income goes down, down, down. The wealthiest 1% control almost all…The rest struggle or simply live a life of trying to keep a head above water.

      Best reason not to gamble (other than going broke and the addiction causing immeasurable financial and emotional hardship having the potential to disintegrate a family) is the fact so little of the money actually comes back to the state of Indiana.

  7. Thanks Po and V13! Hopefully it will be a good game with IU pulling it out in the end!

    Will be interesting to see what the actual attendance will be and what % will be wearing red. I am thinking something like 70-30 Tennessee. I called the ticket office this morning to check on a partial refund on my credit card since I could not get club level seating, and asked the ticket office employee how many tickets IU got and how sales were going. He said IU got almost 1/4 of the stadium. I am thinking 15,000 to 18,000 tickets. I would hope IU could sell that many, but the person I talked to sounded hesitant as to whether or not he thought IU would sell its entire allotment of tickets.

    I am not convinced that even if IU went to the Rose Bowl again, that IU fans would support the team in Pasadena. I remember when my fiancé and I went in back in ’68 when I was on leave, the press said it was the largest civilian airlift (charter flights) in the history of the country. I think there were a lot more IU football fans back then than today.

  8. H4h. Now, what is many years ago I remember when the Hoosier lottery and all the related games that game to Indiana….to fund education and all the necessities for the Hoosier state. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had questions…Eventually, at what point is the threshold of diminishing returns or has that point already been surpassed? How long does it sustain and to what cost to society? Misrepresentation to its customers? Political plots? And the lies? Where does the money really go? How long is it able to fund what it was supposedly set up for? All in the name of harmless good times and fun? And of course advertised possible payouts are just that. Most Advertised possible payouts are never payed out…In fact very seldom are.

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