Auburn transfer Jaren Handy commits to Indiana

Auburn transfer defensive end Jaren Handy announced on his Twitter account Wednesday evening that he is transferring to Indiana.

The 6-foot-5, 252-pound sophomore from Hattiesburg, Miss., recorded three tackles including two for loss and a sack in limited action as a reserve this season. The sack came against Alabama and the tackle for loss came against Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl.

As a true freshman in 2019, Handy recorded seven tackles in seven appearances. He was an all-state player at Hattiesburg High School.

As a recruit in the class of 2019, Handy was a 4-star and ranked the No. 100 overall player in the class and the No. 7 strong-side defensive end according to the 247Sports Composite.  He chose Auburn over a long list of offers that included LSU, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Handy entered the portal at the end of April following Auburn’s spring game, which he skipped for personal reasons. When new Auburn coach Bryan Harsin was hired in January to replace fired coach Gus Malzahn, Handy posted his approval on Twitter, but he apparently changed his mind over the course of spring practice.

“He felt like he needed a fresh start,” Hattiesburg coach Tony Vance said. “Just felt like he needed to start all over again. The new staff came in and he felt like he needed a fresh start.”

Vance said Indiana got in the door with Handy quickly after he entered the portal.

“They were able to build a pretty good relationship in a short period of time,” Vance said. “He just really felt like they wanted him up there and Indiana was a good fit for him.”

Handy entered high school as a wide receiver. He moved a way from Hattiesburg as a sophomore then came back as a senior after his body had filled out and he moved to defensive line.

Vance and his staff used a four-man front and used Handy at both defensive end and defensive tackle and he was dominant at both. He was well built to pass rush inside and outside.

“He has quickness and ability to use his hands and understand how to defeat blocks and get off blocks,” Vance said. “He understood the defense and how he fit in the defensive scheme. Things were set up for him to sack the quarterback. He was really good at setting an offensive lineman up, setting him up inside and going outside or setting him up outside and beating him underneath. Understanding how to get to the quarterback. For a guy his size in high school, he was just unblockable.”

It wasn’t easy to stop him when he was going up against the run either.

“He’s one of those guys who didn’t mind sticking his head in the A gap or B gap to stop the run,” Vance said. “Whatever the game plan called for. We played against a lot of teams who played Wing-T type offenses. They were under center with 21 personnel and two-tight end sets. The tougher it got in the middle, the better he played.”

Handy is the fifth transfer added to the roster for the 2021 season and the fourth coming from a power five conference. He joins center Zach Carpenter (Michigan), wide receiver D.J. Matthews (Florida State), defensive end Ryder Anderson (Ole Miss) and defensive tackle Weston Kramer.

The addition of Handy helps offset recent losses on the defensive line.  Defensive ends Jeramy Passmore, Tramar Reece, and Jalen Mayala all have transferred since the 2020 season.  Tackle Damarjhe Lewis also left the program.

Handy will be immediately eligible with three years of eligibility remaining.  He is the cousin of IU wide receiver Ty Fryfogle, who tweeted his approval after Handy’s announcement.

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