Sampson James enters transfer portal

Indiana running back Sampson James has entered his name in the transfer portal, a source confirmed Monday.

The rising sophomore running back was in line to be the No. 2 option behind Stevie Scott. Combined with the loss of rising junior Ronnie Walker, who put his name in the portal last month, depth in IU’s running back room is waning.

James, a native of Avon, was the top-rated prospect in the Hoosiers’ 2019 class, considered a four-star recruit and the No. 10 running back in the nation, according to 247Sports. When James flipped his commitment from Ohio State to IU in October 2018, it was considered a big recruiting victory for IU coach Tom Allen and his program.

A midyear enrollee in 2019, he immediately turned heads when he arrived on campus. James was close with strength coach David Ballou, who trained him while at Avon. Ballou is reportedly set to become Alabama’s next strength coach.

“The thing with Sampson, when he comes in, when he enters the weight room or comes in and talks to me, he has a focused look in his eyes and it never changes since he wants to be great,” Ballou said in February 2019. “He has an expectation about what he wants this sport to do for him and I share that. Me and him have talked a lot about that.”

It took time for James to make an impact on the field, but he made the most of his chance in the regular-season finale versus Purdue. With Scott sidelined, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound freshman ran for 118 yards and a touchdown in an overtime win over the Boilermakers. He also started the Gator Bowl, finishing the year with 275 yards on 81 carries.

Without both Walker and James, the Hoosiers’ running back room has severely thinned. IU lost Ivory Winters (Southeast Missouri State) and Cole Gest (Akron) to transfer during the 2019 season. Winters left during fall camp, and Gest appeared in just one game for the Hoosiers.

Now it may be on former walk-on and rising redshirt junior Ahrod Lloyd and incoming freshman Tim Baldwin Jr. to back up Scott. IU has also recruited 2019’s Mr. Football, New Palestine’s Charlie Spegal, as a preferred walk-on.


  1. I guess Ole Beardown was right about the craziness that’s going on behind the LEO Curtain…

    1. It’s been a strange offseason so far. It will be very interesting to see where things go from here. Will say that the SJ situation didn’t happen overnight, but DB did try to get him to stay.

  2. Scotty of the Enterprise:
    “Captain, you are overloading the system. Enterprise’s transfer portal can’t handle anymore beaming down! Somebody is gonna end up as half helmet and half pitchfork at Montana State!”

    1. I would suggest seeing a doctor if you don’t know why it hurts. Having “Purdue” in your screen name could be a source of pain. Maybe try changing it and see how you feel in a few days. I do know the second half of your screen name burns my eyes ..and the “Beat” nestled up against it doesn’t seem to alleviate the burning.

      Hoosier fans should know two things:
      1. Never acknowledge or display the name of the school in West Lafayette-to-have-a-banner in ANY manner its real spelling.
      2. Don’t recruit or hire anyone named ‘Sampson.’

  3. fishspinners – BINGO! I commented on the Ballou thread that something was going on behind the scenes. I always put a lot of stock into Beardown’s comments and I’d love to hear from him now. The fact that IU offered a transfer OT from Howard this weekend whose only other offers are Charlotte and Georgia State makes little sense. He has one year of eligibility but hopes to appeal to get a second. Why do we need a backup OT from Howard? Are more defections in the works?

    Absolutely all enthusiasm I had about IU football since the Purdue victory is gone. It started with the blown 14 point lead in the Gator Bowl and now keeps on snowballing with the staff and player defections. Can’t get much worse, but I know it will.

    Charle Spegal may be given an opportunity to show his stuff a lot sooner than anyone thought! The question is, can he develop into a B1G back, because the RB room is close to bare.

  4. Does he end up at Bama?
    Does Mullen end up at Bama?

    Before saying James not good enough to play at Bama just watch him behind Bama offensive line.

  5. You all might want to look around at other programs, seeing the same thing. I think we may be entering the brave new world of the transfer portal full force. I suspect it is only going to get worse. Remember what I said about the very dangerous attitude out there that, “If they can do it at Indiana, they can do it anywhere?” That goes for players just like coaches.

    We’ve opened up the Pandora’s box of the transfer portal. No one knows what may come out.

    1. “Transfer portal”….? Sounds like the only approved way a McDonald’s fry will be served out the drive-thru once Corona comes to town.

  6. think. I think the question is answered and it’s known (anything else is denial). It’s March (and not even spring) and I have seen enough. Turnovers are all over the place = program instability and lack of respect. Is it going to be only thing left the head coach, himself.
    IU extended Tom Crean after what was flash in pan success. Then disappointing.
    Though not the same (because it is IU football) and things were trending up IU extends Tom Allen after flash in pan success.
    Then cursed and disappointing. Yes the sky is falling on the IU football program

    A.D. Fred Glass escapes at the best time he could have and is the smartest guy I know. The academia including Pres could care less.

    COACH TERI MOREN/IU Ladies basketball is the best hire of Fred Glass tenure and most stable major sports program currently at IU. YES IU LADIES BASKETBALL PROGRAM IS THE MAJOR SPORTS PROGRAM AT IU.

    Side note: IU band is great, soccer is excellent, and basketball is good as well.

    1. Add men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s track and field, men’s baseball, women’s crew. I am sure that I forgot a few.

  7. This is not good. Not good at all. And I don’t understand this move at all. James got lots of playing time as a freshman and would have gotten more as a sophomore. Is it that he’s not going to be the starter next season? Is it concerns about the o-line? Does he have a problem with the new (young) OC? TA has some explaining to do, and fast.

    1. PO, it seems like Ballou leaving is the reason for James based on the timing and long time relationship the two have. I wonder about the short sighted thinking James is showing but hope our two incoming RBs are special. The transfer portal is becoming a joke with the number of players entering. I think VT had 18 in the transfer portal and how can you build a program with that kind of turnover every year with the loss of players leaving for the NFL. The new idea of unlimited transfers for one shot deal doesn’t look very good right now. I hope the NCAA really looks hard at the transfer portal when there isn’t a coaching change.

      1. DB leaving was probably the last straw, but SJ has been on the edge of leaving for awhile. Need to be a little careful here, but IU is a one back offense that recruits like they run two backs, and they don’t. MH likes to ride one guy, and that is to the exclusion of others. Gest, Ronnie, SJ, there’s a theme here. Winters doesn’t fit that. He just wasn’t ready to be away from home. But the other guys didn’t feel good about some things.

        Still some issues, we’ll see how things work out. There could be some more stuff after spring and before fall. Never a dull moment.

  8. Ok, I have now read all of the comments and it is clear that no one has any clue why Sampson wants to leave IU! But if the rules apply, he will sit out one full year before he gets to play football for anyone. Unless he goes to AL, where he will be the #6 RB, he will not have Ballou to work with. A very curious move on his part. The loss of good assistant coaches is to be expected from a rising program like Indiana. So the question is has Coach Allen adequately prepared for this? Replacing 4 and now 2 more is a challenge! I hope the new hires are excellent! IU will need that!

  9. The bad news for TA and the IU football program continues to multiply!

    thinkaboutit – Show me a list of player and staff losses at Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. I know Iowa lost their left tackle to the pros and replaced him with our best offensive lineman, Coy Cronk, but I am not aware of any where near the attrition at those or other schools that has recently occurred at IU. All is not rosy behind the LEO curtain when you lose two senior captains and team leaders, Cronk and Ramsey, and your two highest rated recruits for 2018 and 2019, Walker and James. I have no inside knowledge, but it wouldn’t shock me that there will be additional surprises in the months to come.

    I admire your optimism, but trying to portray these recent events as normal growth pains in an upward mobile program doesn’t hold water. TA has his work cut out for him to right this ship before it crashes below the waves. Deboer’s offense enabled IU to win 8 games in a down B1G. They could have easily ended up 6-6 or even 5-7 without a bit of good luck. I think Maryland, Rutgers, Nebraska, and Purdue were down to their 3rd string quarterbacks, and all besides Rutgers, were nail biters. Without Deboer, no way IU would have won 8.

    Deboer, with another successful year or two under his belt at IU, would have been a hot name for a power 5 HC job. Instead, he settled for Fresno State? I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Hagen got a big raise for his lateral move to Texas. I know some on this board didn’t think he was that good, but I believe if you look at the numbers, he and Hart have been our two best recruiters. Anyone that thinks Peoples will out recruit Hagen has nothing to base that opinion on. He was in the SEC for a couple of years at a terrible Arkansas program and has bounced around mid to low level programs before and after. Tell me he recruited high level talent to Tulane!

  10. I U Football’s doesn’t have enough football revenue to compete with the elites of College Football, with the possible new transfer rule it will be a free agent situation every year until the powers to be put a cap on the unrestricted transfers and throw in the possibility of player compensation and the result will be an elite number of teams that will play for the National Title’s and then a second type group of football playing schools for the remaining lesser bowls and your Division II schools in the college football world. The Big Ten might have 4 or 5 teams that one to three schools that could reach the elite status in some years. The elite teams will be your semi-pro or outright pro teams of college football and the balance of the schools will be student athletic programs. This what the US Congress, California legislation and the NCAA powers will make college football change to.

    1. Please explain how “football revenue” impacts the decisions of 18-22 year olds to change schools? IU is one of a very few universities to produce a net profit for athletics, plus $13 million last fiscal year. We increased our assistant’s pay and still lost 6 assistant coaches. Coach Allen assembled a good staff and other programs raided it. That is competition. Re-work all assistant contracts so that the new employer pays a minimum of one year’s salary as a buy out and every contract is renewed on January 1.

      1. Why didn’t Fred have “penalty clauses” written into some contracts as he did with Teri Moren? Leave it to a male chauvinist of high faith, high society and a mover and shaker in Indy politics/business to make demands upon a woman, restricting her from entering a “portal” (own her, per se), while not doing the same with his manly football coaches.

        Wilson could take his expertise to OSU…but Moren could never move to Purdue without losing her ass or facing lawsuit. Surely, some of our other male coaches in basketball and football could have similar penalty clauses. Sure seems like we could have had some “penalty clauses” for a football coach leaving poor old Indiana for Alabama. “Oh, hell yes, I’ll sign that…Are you kidding? Alabama is never going to be calling me at Indiana. Sure, I’ll pay a 4 million dollar penalty as an S & C coach if I jump to Alabama….who’s not calling, by the way.”
        Just think of the disaster that could have been caused had Crean moved to Purdue? We think we’re having trouble getting Indiana kids to play basketball at Indiana now? Fred is very lucky that the absence of a penalty clause in Crean’s contract didn’t result in him going up to West Lafayette-to-have-a-banner where fans are willing to give you 20 years to get to a Sweet 16.

        1. Because FB and MBB are major revenue producing sports where the coaches have leverage, so they get paid more and have better “buyout” terms. This isn’t a gender issue, but leave it up to you to start fires where there aren’t any. Calling people chauvinists and racists online is the scourge of humanity. To so flippantly throw those invectives around renders the terms meaningless.

          Too bad coronavirus doesn’t infect people in order of post count.

  11. I have significant professional experience involving the subject of “employee” turnover. The first thing organizations have to do is determine if the turnover is desired or undesired turnover. When an organization experiences “desired” turnover, it’s usually terminating an employee that is not the right fit for his/her job. Desired turnover usually fixes a problem and makes the organization stronger. As for undesired turnover, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding as to why the employee is leaving the organization. Is it for positive reasons (more money, career advancement, benefits their family, etc?). If not for positive reasons, what problems did the employee have with the organization that caused them to accept another job?

    Based on the limited information available, although clearly undesired turnover, the coaches that have left TA’s staff all left for positive reasons. Our former OC is now a head coach getting paid a lot more money. Our D-line coach left to be with his family and perhaps make more money, and he is clearly going to work for a more prominent/prestigious FB program. Our Special Teams Coordinator left for a promotion to DC, which gets him back to doing the job he wanted to do. So while I’m not happy about the recent departures, there is no reason to suggest that there are problems with TA or the culture of IU FB. Furthermore, fresh blood can be very healthy for an organization.

    The key going forward, assuming that IU will continue to have good coaches poached by wealthier programs, is to be vigilant in maintaining a dynamic succession plan, and maintaining a list of quality candidates for each coaching job that might become vacant. Other than convincing your BOT to approve significantly bigger coaching compensation budgets, there’s not much any executive can do to prevent talented people from moving to bigger and better things.

  12. From 247sports,
    Big Ten teams and number in the transfer portal as of 3 days ago

    Illinois 6
    Iowa 5
    IU 6 (that includes Sampson who they hadn’t reported yet)
    Maryland 19 (WOW!)
    MSU 8
    Michigan 11
    Minny 10 (Surprising coming off a very successful season)
    Nebraska 14
    Northwestern 3 (Tied lowest with OSU)
    OSU 3
    PSU 8
    Purdue 8
    Rutgers 17 (Yikes!)
    Wisconsin 5

    With an average of 9 transfers in the league per team IU is about average.

      1. That is why I used the term “about”. A couple more guys leave and we are pretty much right there.

  13. Iuhoosier92. Excellent post. This will play out as proof that IU will continue its past football tradition.
    IU coaching turnover and lack of depth are things that IU is not well equipped to absorb as top half of big ten teams. IU is losing key coaching personnel and key players at positions whether it be starters or depth that has played and gained experience.

  14. Yes, excellent post, iuhoosier92. Thanks.

    I just did a count of the QBs and RB’s in the transfer portal as of yesterday. There are 93 QBs, 35 of which are immediately eligible to play. Of those 93 QBs, according to the site,13 are already committed to another school. That leaves 80 QBs looking for another place to play. I’d estimate that more than half of them were rated higher that PR coming out of HS.

    For running backs, as of yesterday there were 87 in the transfer portal (this does not include Sampson). Interestingly enough, two RBs in the transfer portal were rated as 5-star QBs coming out of HS and five were rated as 4-star RBs coming out of HS. Sampson would make that six 4-star rated RBs. (If Alabama wants another RB, there are two of them available that were much higher rated than Sampson.)

    I have two questions: does anyone know if PR is going through Spring Practice starting next week? If not, and he does not choose to transfer, will he be welcomed back to IU this summer or is he through playing for IU?

    The Transfer Portal is a knife that cuts both ways. IU has benefitted from it and it has suffered because of it. But I see no reason why TA and staff should not be evaluating and recruiting players in the transfer portal right now. We don’t really need another QB, but there is no reason why a player like Sampson can’t be replaced with a quality RB, hopefully one with more than one year of eligibility remaining. One door closes and another one opens. Welcome to the new world of college football.

    1. Good points and facts. Neither Peyton nor Sampson has improved their athletic careers so far. Much will happen before spring football is over for everyone.

  15. 1992 thanks for the perspective. Makes me feel less bad.

    Man, that’s a crazy number at Maryland! Wow.

  16. As disruptive as all this is, I think it is going to get worse, especially on the transfer issue. We have the specter of paying athletes hanging over all of this. Remember, if something isn’t resolved soon, the California law will go into effect. Don’t know if other states have something in the works as well, but the big problem will be the pitting of states with more lucrative allowances against those who do not.

    There could be a new California Gold Rush of athletes transferring to the west coast if this doesn’t get fixed soon. They may not go to California due to the taxes, but I could see states such as Tennessee opening up the floodgates, no income tax there.

  17. IU Football is nowhere near turning any corners. This is a “who cares?” in my world.

    As we sit on the eve of Selection Sunday, I now realize just how much we’ve lost our way. A real possibility of four years without an NCAA tournament invitation …Almost 20 years since we’ve been in a Final Four. Our new measure of greatness prior to Archie was a Sweet 16 ceiling.

    We’ve got a lot bigger problems than Hans & Franz leaving…or transfer portals.
    Very sad how so few people understand the Hoosiers only real viable pathway to ever becoming a university with one relevant major sports program….

    For a 100 more years you’ll try to make this football thing work…Meanwhile, we grow increasingly irrelevant in the sport we could change our fortunes very quickly …if truly serious.

    The true TCDS is always making it about Hoosier Football….Such pertinent distractions on the inconsequential “big happenings” in the eternal to and fro of a .500 football Hoveround will keep Crean’s pathetic mediocrity (compared to nine other Midwestern programs in March Madness) appear accomplished by comparison.

    It’s March Madness, folks…Put your priorities where they should be. Go to a basketball game. The banners may be dusty, but they are still far more relevant than King Putt-Putt’s football tomb across the parking lot. Don’t allow those banners to serve as gauze to mummify Bob Knight. It’s not too late to get your priorities straight.

    We’ll never be the SEC in football…Let’s try to get back to a point where they’re never going to be Hoosier basketball…(as it once was…and as it should be).

    The Establishment loves nothing more than an IU fan caring about football. That’s why guys like Jim Delany sleep well.

  18. Nobody in their right mind is going ‘West’ or ‘Northwest’ until the Corona thing gets under control.

  19. t, we had three scholarship QBs last season and we’ll have three this season. And I think we have a walk-on QB on next season’s roster (emergency QB). So I’m not sure why we would need a fourth.
    If we were to get one, would it be a JC transfer or a graduate transfer? Either way, any of those guys worth their salt are going to want a chance to play right away. And I doubt that TA can promise anything other than being a 3rd or 4th stringer.

  20. A quarterback is needed …PR has a squirt gun arm. MP has the right initials. Every other game he needs a Medical Professional….Jack Tuttle is probably a bust. At best, he’s severely untested and unprepared.

    Yes, we most certainly need a quarterback.

    But it’s still basketball season…Allow the coach to figure it out. I don’t think football should be allowed to be “news” until basketball season is completed.

  21. Harv,

    Geez man. For someone who doesn’t care about football and gets mad about football, you sure have a lot of opinions about it. This is typing into white boxes on the internet, as you elaquently put it a while back.

    We all want a powerhouse basketball program. SOME of us also want the same in football (relatively speaking, of course). This is pretty big news.

    Anyway, I don’t want to get up on ya about this, I just find it curious that you spend so many words and a lot of effort to tell us “who cares”.

    I care. Kind of. 😛

    1. If you want a ‘powerhouse’ football program, you’re going to have to convince the leadership to hire a powerhouse coach.
      Of course, there may be no amount of money for an established winner who can bring a tidal wave of top assistants and top recruits to place such a risk upon his good name.
      This will forever be the challenge for Indiana Football. Massive rosters are already inherently difficult to fill from top to bottom with talent. Massive historical failure of a program only adds to the precariousness of that roster.
      Top commitments (coaches and recruits) to the program always have that small seed of doubt in the back of their minds…
      A couple major bumps in the road only adds to the doubt and the precariousness of a thin-on-top-talent roster….and then the exodus begins. IU Football simply can’t be like everyone else. They can’t afford to have the “average” number of transfers because their rosters aren’t average(the talent drops off quickly).
      We “want” and we want to “believe”….but that self-display in these boxes doesn’t mean a hill of beans. The “belief” in those who want to play football or coach football at Indiana is all that matters and their commitment to Indiana is always teetering on just how much Indiana puts their money where their mouth has always spouted but rarely shown an ability to put up results.

      Nothing wrong for “wanting” a powerhouse football program at Indiana. Given the history and the current head coach, I simply think that’s a very dreamy tall order. Should put an umbrella and a pineapple wedge in that fruity cocktail.
      Strangely enough, you really don’t need a “powerhouse” basketball program to play deep into March Madness. A quality coach is where you begin. You need barely more than a handful of strong talent (doesn’t seem so unreasonable when your program exists in a state so rich in basketball talent). You simply need one or two Sampson James…or a Cody Zeller…or one unbelievable point guard paired with a couple other very solid roster picks.
      Just seems a lot more baffling to this fan ….as to why we can’t achieve anything in March Madness. Plenty of non-powerhouse programs achieve mere Sweet 16’s or “making” a tournament.

      Our basketball program has become nearly as much of a ‘big stage’ embarrassment as the football charades. An Indiana basketball team in the bottom half of the BigTen standings is an abomination.
      I simply believe it should give more than considerable pause to which major sports program at IU is far more realistically a viable fix and candidate for making us known for something….other than a pretty campus and all those fine academic programs.

      Enjoy the “wanting”….My “wanting” days are getting quite fewer. I would love to see Indiana do more than want and actually get serious about rewarding the fans with leadership that fosters results. We’ve been very strong in billboards and slogans.

  22. For me there is only 1 common denominator to these defections in the RB group. Everyone on here has expressed the high they feel having Hart as RB coach. I’ve been lukewarm and cooling. Yes his high watermark has been recruiting and teaching RB x’s & o’s technique. But all these personnel bailouts makes me believe more than ever there is someone creating unrest with this group. No one else in the RB room more prominent to scrutinize. The coaching transitions were more about opportunities. Coy and Peyton are understandable. Hart’s personnel management is in question. Way to many Q’s.

    1. Hart has lost one, and only one, good RB: Sampson. Walker showed some promise as a freshman, but none as a sophomore. A change of scenery could be just what he needed. Indiana definitely needs more good RB’s!

  23. If I’m not mistaken, Hart just got a big raise and a promotion. So if Hart’s “personnel management” is in question, TA’s personnel management must also be in question. To suggest otherwise is to imply that TA is out of touch with his players. I don’t believe that for a minute.

    Running backs are a dime a dozen. Programs like Alabama and Clemson have five or six running backs that are all better than IU’s best RB. A RB coming out of HS signs with IU for a chance to be a starter, usually because they believe they have a better chance to be a starter at IU compared to other programs (i.e., OSU). They want to play for three years and then jump to the NFL. They know a RB’s NFL career is relatively short and have to get the money as soon as they can. Hart knows this too, because he was the poster child for RBs who get used up in college at the expense of their NFL career. That’s why he and TA have spoken about multiple RBs sharing the burden so that their RBs don’t get warn out and forfeit an opportunity to play in the NFL.

    Hart has done an excellent job recruiting good RBS. And he appears to do an excellent job developing them. But if you arrive in Bloomington thinking you’re going to be the starter as a freshman, become a star in your sophomore and Junior seasons and go to the NFL after three years, but find yourself playing behind a bigger and better RB, you may start to think, “this wasn’t how the plan was supposed to work, I need to leave because I can’t afford to be 2nd string for another season.” And there’s this. A non-starter might choose to be 2nd string if his team can compete for a Championship, but he’s not willing to jeopardize his NFL future being 2nd string on a team that might finish 7 – 5.

    Until he explains it, we have no idea why SJ entered the transfer portal. We know why Ronnie left, and it was obvious that it was best of Test to transfer. So while losing SJ is a blow, I don’t see it as part of a pattern or the fault of Mike Hart. As long as he keeps recruiting good RBs and developing them as he has, I’ll continue to back him until given a real reason not to.

    1. Fine synopsis mirroring mine using an overabundance of words. Like I said initially, lots Q’s unanswered. RB’s are a premium when you don’t have enough.

  24. I hate auto-correct programs. That was supposed to be “it was best for Gest to transfer.” And it was best for both Gest and for IU.

  25. Beware of any pilot with enough “significant professional experience” heroically going in for a landing into these little white boxes.

    Can I introduce you to my wife, Morgan Fairchild? Comment boxes in a nutshell. I actually have significant professional experience designing comment boxes…I’m actually the president of Professional Comment Boxes of America.

  26. I had 2 medical transcribers typing Cardiology and Vascular dictation. Most of the Docs were foreign. One of the Docs was going crazy in the office. Complaint – She keeps typing what I say, not what I mean. She said not totally true, she deleted the profanities when he spilled his coffee on the Dictaphone. Auto-correct has come a long way.

    1. Might be a good idea to show some Carson snippets on the big scoreboard during IU football games. Maybe, a game day theme of some comedy snippets from all comedy shows. Strategy try to get opponents laughing to break their concentration. IU could watch them during practice week. That way it wouldn’t be funny to them anymore at game day. IU could maintain its focus.

  27. Take this for what it’s worth, but apparently Master Teague sustained an injury to his achilles that could result in him missing the 2020 season. OSU’s two top backs are now out for spring ball, and possibly an extended period. I wonder if James was made aware of this and decided to enter the portal with the idea of signing with the Buckeyes? He was a Buckeye commit for several months before switching, and a player that Ryan Day coveted.

    1. Ah, the joys of the portal.

      At some point in time better parameters are going to have to be adopted. How are you supposed to build a program when half the team is in the portal? Maryland?

    2. SJ was already considering a switch to IU and went to OSU to see if that would help him decide. He came away not sending they were the place for him and that they didn’t make him feel at home, and he switched his commitment. After that, OSU didn’t try to talk him back over to them. Only thing more surprising than him leaving IU is if he went to OSU.

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