It’s a new day for Hoosier wide receivers and tight ends.
The Indiana receiving corps may have led the B1G in receiving yards a year ago, but three of their top four producers are now gone. Kofi Hughes and Cody Latimer have been familiar faces at wideout since Wilson’s first year in 2011, and the tight end spot? Ted Bosler has been the leading receiver at the position since Ben Chappell was leading the show. Yeah, it’s been a minute.
Fans can at least find comfort knowing Shane Wynn is back in his old familiar spot, right? Nope. Despite standing only 5’7″, Wynn is being moved from the slot position he has occupied since his freshman year to fill the outside spot previously played by two players who on average were 51 pounds heavier and 7.5 inches taller than Wynn (Hughes and Latimer).
Here’s a look at what the depth chart heading into fall camp:
Freshman Making a Name for Themselves
Expect several changes in the depth chart ahead of the first game next Saturday, most notably, look for a few freshman to get in the mix. Aside from those who enrolled early (like stud recruit Dominique Booth), most freshman didn’t have a chance to make the pre-camp two-deep. That’s all changed and the freshmen are making a big impact. 6’4″ Simmie Cobbs, a former Purdue commit, has gained consistent praise from his coaches and looked very comfortable making several big catches in the most recent intra-squad scrimmage. His size makes him an attractive option at the currently undersized outside receiver position, especially in light of Caleb Cornett’s recent slip up.
According to Coach Wilson, freshman J-Shun Harris “has been as good as anyone,” and his highlight reel from the previously mentioned scrimmage backs that statement up nicely. From his small stature to his lightning quick explosiveness, Harris appears to be Shane Wynn 2.0. The staff may use him in the same way the used Wynn as a freshman: some action at slot receiver as well as on special teams as a return man.
The tight end position will also have some freshmen flavor to it. Coaches have raved about the ability of Jordan Fuchs, a 6’6″ former basketball star, to make athletic catches, and without a clear replacement for Bolser, the door could be open for Fuchs to make a name for himself early.
New Cast, New Strengths, Same Goal
While the newcomers are cause for excitement, the novelty of the corps in general may be cause for concern. As Offensive Coordinater Kevin Johns explained,
“We’re a different offense than we were a year ago, and we’re still trying to put the pieces together…Nothing is going to be handed to us and nothing is going to be guaranteed. We’re not as big as we were a year ago. We have more speed than we had, but not as much size…We don’t have a ton of experience, so those guys are still learning to play the game.”
The depth chart for the tight end spot in particular remains a question mark as Johns says the team will start with a “tight end by committee” strategy. Position coach James Patton recently mentioned Anthony Corsaro, Jordan Fuchs and Arizona transfer Michael Cooper (who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules) as players who have impressed him thus far in camp.
While the majority of the group may be inexperienced, the three starting wideouts (Wynn, Stoner and Roundtree) at least provide some experience and veteran leadership. While opposing defenses will undoubtedly be focused on holding Wynn in check, look for Nick Stoner to finish his IU career on a high note. Stoner is freaky fast and until this year, spent a good amount of time training as an NCAA National Championship track star. With the void left by Latimer and Hughes, Stoner decided to focus on football this year, redshirting in track. He says the move has allowed him gained weight and describes himself as finally looking like a football player, rather than a track star in pads.
The addition of new faces doesn’t mean a new game plan for offensive juggernauts Kevin Wilson and Kevin Johns. Defenses will be spread out. They will be pushed with a frantic pace. The ball will fly out of Sudfeld’s hand. It’s just a matter of who is going to be there to catch it.