IU football opened spring training on Saturday and had a session open to the media on Tuesday.
In his seventh season as head coach, Tom Allen has provided spring updates twice in the past week.
Below are some of his most notable comments as Indiana turns the page with a revised roster and kicking off 2023 in less than six months.
Spring training runs through April 15, when the program hosts an interactive tailgate with fans.
UPDATES TO WILLIAMS, CAMPER AND BEDFORD
Three key Hoosiers suffered season-ending knee injuries at various stages of the 2022 season.
Quarterback Dexter Williams’ injury came in the last game of the year, wideout Cam Camper’s midseason injury, and Matthew Bedford’s offensive tackle in the first week.
As you might expect, all three are in different stages of their rehab.
On Tuesday, Allen said that while Williams trains, he’s not cleared for anything on the field at this point, and it doesn’t sound like that’s changing anytime soon.
“It’s a long road for him, but the good news is he’s on schedule,” Allen said.
According to Allen, Williams is not expected to be back for the first week of the 2023 season.
Camper, IU’s lead receiver a year ago, isn’t practicing either. But he’s through and is expected to be ready for the first week when IU hosts Ohio State.
Bedford, a four-year starter at tackle, is not fully erased. But this spring he’ll be there in practice.
“Matt is actually out there and capable of doing some things,” Allen said.
Bedford should be ready for the season opener.
Allen updated on two other Hoosiers who underwent off-season surgery that affected their spring.
Tight end James Bomba is not currently participating in spring training. Linebacker Matt Hohlt won’t be going live this spring after post-season surgery, but Allen says he’s capable of making the reps.
A WIDE-OPEN SPRING ON THE QUARTERBACK
We’ve seen it all when it comes to quarterback competition in Indiana. From Michael Penix Jr., who was a suspension for starting in 2020, to two veterans who competed in the other final years.
But this year has a very different feel as IU doesn’t have anyone with significant experience in their quarterback room.
Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby have attempted a total of 10 passes in their careers. They are joined by freshman Broc Lowry as a trio currently battling for the starting job against Ohio State in September.
“That makes it a very open assessment process. Kind of a clean slate from everyone,” Allen said. “I like it from the point of view that you can kind of see who’s going to stand up.
“You see who are the natural leaders and who are creative and able to make plays.”
There remains a possibility that IU could add a quarterback before the season. The transfer portal will be open again for a few weeks after spring training.
LUCAS WILL HAVE EXPANDED ROLE
One thing was certain in an uncertain 2022 season — more Jaylin Lucas was a good thing.
Indiana led the freshman into his first college football season, but when it was over, Lucas led Indiana with 994 all-purpose yards and he was named a freshman All-American.
In 2023 he can no longer be held.
After seeing limited snaps as a running back and finding success as a kickoff returner, Allen said Lucas will be used in a variety of ways as a sophomore.
Lucas has been gearing up for the past year to take on the team’s punt return duties, and he’ll also be joining the slot as a receiver in addition to continuing to return kicks and snapping as a running back.
JONES ON OFFENSIVE LINE
Cooper Jones came to Indiana as a distinguished recruit from Valparaiso High School. He was ranked nationally as the No. 21 strong defensive end by Rivals in the class of 2021.
Jones appeared as a defensive end in seven games in 2022. He has the size and athleticism to play at the Power Five level. But off-season discussions involving him and staff led to the decision to switch to the other side of the ball to speed up the process.
“We feel like he has the length and hardness we’re looking for and he was excited about the opportunity,” Allen said. “He wants to get out on the field and be able to play.”
Now on the offensive line, Jones will now wear No. 78. He’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 297 pounds.
In Indiana, two players who were eligible to return in 2023 have opted to leave the game. And both made a significant contribution to this in 2022.
Defensive lineman Beau Robbins appeared in 24 games over four seasons at Bloomington, including 10 games with three starts in 2022. Robbins was a 4-star recruit from Carmel, Indiana.
Center Caleb Murphy played in 23 games over three seasons at IU. He made several position changes – from the defensive line to the narrow end to the center. Murphy grew up near Bloomington. He was forced into service in a win against Western Kentucky last season.
Both Robbins and Murphy have decided to focus on their professional careers outside of football.
“They’ll be graduating here this spring,” Allen said. “These guys have been great for us, great leaders on the team and they are ready to move on. I have great respect for them and appreciate everything they have given to our program.”
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