IU Media Day Wrap-Up 2016

Tom Allen against the Southern Methodist Mustangs during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Allen against the Southern Methodist Mustangs during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Football program opened up fall camp yesterday and they also opened up their team to the media for questions about the upcoming season. Most of the starters were sitting down in the Henke Hall of Champions with select members of the media. Some of the players in attendance were Simmie Cobbs Jr., Mitchell Paige, Rashard Fant and Devine Redding. The media day personnel were also invited to come out and watch the Hoosiers compete in their first day of fall camp after speaking with all of the players and coaches.

Not only did the players open up for questioning, but all of the coaches were on display as well,  including Indiana’s prized new defensive coordinator, Tom Allen. Many players have already referenced the effect he has had on the defense at such an early point in the season.

There was a lot discussed during media day, but lets go over the five main takeaways from this important day that officially marks the start of the season.

1. Mitchell Paige’s new hairstyle

Mitchell Paige came into media day sporting a new hairstyle – freshly dyed bleach blonde hair. He was almost unrecognizable with his new hair color, causing Kevin Wilson to jokingly introduce him as a new member of the team. Reporters asked Paige if he was forced to dye it because he lost a bet, or for a normal reason. However, Paige was influenced by soccer star, Lionel Messi, while he was watching one of his games on TV. Paige’s mom was the catalyst of the whole thing. In fact, she’s the one that dyed it for him.

His haircut wasn’t the only thing that had people talk Kevin Wilson mentioned Paige’s athleticism and how he stands out of the crowd, “He does a great job of taking care. He’s a heck of an athlete. He’s a tremendous golfer.” We will have to wait until the season starts to see if Mitchell continues this style change.

2. Nick Westbrook impressing coaches and teammates 

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Nick Westbrook is entering his Sophomore season and he continues to impress fellow teammates, especially fellow star wide receiver, Simmie Cobbs Jr. Reporters asked Cobbs about Westbrook’s improvement during the offseason and Simmie had nothing but positives to say about the young receiver. Cobbs mentioned how the physical aspect of Westbrook’s game has improved such as getting stronger, faster, and just developing that big play ability of his game. Cobbs also mentioned how Nick is, “really coming out of his shell” in his Sophomore season. Coach Wilson also referenced that Westbrook has really stepped up his game during the spring and has really come into his own as the season progressed.

Westbrook has had a lot of exposure to the college game as a freshman, playing in all of the Hoosiers 13 games. He caught 6 balls for 69 yards along with hauling in a touchdown in the Pinstripe Bowl against Duke. Indiana’s receiving corps is perhaps its strongest position group going into the season. Though he will have to battle for playing time against other talented receivers, J-Shun Harris and close friend, Luke Timian.

3. Tom Allen quickly changing the culture

During an interview, senior linebacker Dawson Fletcher refused to say the “t-u word” because he was afraid the coaches would make him do push-ups.

“we might get beat, but if you beat us you’re going to take a beating doing it”

The word he is referring to is a common turnover. However, this season the Hoosiers dare not say the “t-u word”, because its now called a takeaway. Fletcher mentions how turnovers are given, while you have to go out there and get a takeaway, nobody is going to simply give it to you. He also mentions how in this league, “it changes your mindset, because nothing is given in this league or on this level”.

Tom Allen, the most coveted move of the offseason for the Hoosiers, is quickly changing the mindset of the defense. The season hasn’t even started, yet he has still had a massive effect on the players coming into camp. The defense seems to be responding well to the change in leadership, and it isn’t only Dawson Fletcher that’s feeling the change.

4. Rashard Fant wants Indiana to be a “Nasty defense” 

Once again, another player on the defensive side of the ball that’s feeling the fire from brand-new defensive coordinator, Tom Allen. Rashard Fant wants that ‘junkyard dog’ mentality for the Hoosiers new look defense in 2016. He stated,

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

“We’re gonna be a nasty defense and we’re gonna be aggressive.” This is the mentality that Allen wants to instill in the Hoosier defense that has been lacking in previous years. Fant also mentioned that every game is going to be a fight, “we might get beat, but if you beat us you’re going to take a beating doing it”. These Hoosiers aren’t going down without a fight in 2016.

This Hoosiers defense is confident coming into the season after a less than stellar 2015 campaign, ranking 120th in the nation in total defense.  Placing them last in the Big Ten, and 7th worst in the entire country – not exactly what you want in a team contending for a Big Ten title.

5. Receiving core is as deep as its ever been 

We have already mentioned Nick Westbrook coming into fruition during his Sophomore year, however he’s just the tip of the iceberg. Indiana’s wide receiver core is deep, and players are going to be battling for playing time all throughout camp.

The Hoosiers have 15 receivers on their roster, with the top three spots being Simmie Cobbs Jr., Ricky Jones, and Mitchell Paige. The second tier is when things get a little cloudy. Nick Westbrook has most likely solidified a spot, however he might be the only one. The 5’8 speedster J-Shun Harris is coming off of a torn ACL that sidelined him all of last season, although, he could make a comeback and get some playing time this season.

Another unknown that may see some action is Marqui Hawkins (6’2, 225 lbs), a redshirt junior. Remember how Jordan Howard made his way to IU program? The UAB football program was disbanded, but little do people know that Howard’s teammate, Hawkins, decided to join him in Bloomington, as well. Hawkins originally committed to Florida out of high school, however he didn’t see any game action so thought it would be best to transfer to UAB. He played scarcely last season, although he shined on the scout team as a four-time player of the week. Hawkins has the body and athleticism to contend for playing time at Indiana.


Its just the start of fall camp and a lot of starting positions are still up in air for the upcoming season. Tom Allen seems to already have been molding the defense for quite some time, considering how early in the season it is. This years team already looks much more confident than all of the previous seasons, with a newfound confidence, the Hoosiers possibilities are endless in 2016. The season is right around the corner, and it’s exciting to finally have IU football back, even if it just is fall camp and media day.

Next: Names to know in 2016: Part 1: Camion Patrick