Former Walk-on Luke Timian is Ready to Take One Last Run at the Doubters

Did you know that Indiana University football wide receiver Luke Timian had 68 catches for the Hoosiers in 2017?  No?  Don’t worry, Timian has been fighting to be noticed on the football field for years.

Despite being an all-state caliber player at one of the best known high school football programs in the country (Southlake Carroll, Texas), high major colleges weren’t noticing.  Oh to be sure, Columbia offered.  Minnesota took a look.  But at 6-foot-0 and 180 pounds, Luke Timian had the look, at least to college coaches, as a guy that hit his ceiling in high school.

His former high school coach Hal Wasson knew better, and he was trying to change hearts and minds at the time.

“I’ll tell you what, Luke Timian is one of the best I’ve ever had come through here, and we’ve been blessed to see a few D1 guys. He’s one of the hardest workers we’ve ever had, great route runner, impeccable character and role model,” Wasson told 247 Sports in 2014.

Wasson’s description of Timian had some inadvertent red flags, at least to high major college coaches.  Hard worker, route runner, and character don’t sound like elite athlete, and lightning fast receiver that can high-point the football.  What Wasson described and what colleges thought they were seeing looked and sounded like a walk-on, at least at the highest levels of college football.

And so Timian walked-on to his favorite school — Oklahoma State.  After being redshirted by the Cowboys, Timian started to believe it wasn’t the right long-term fit.  A relationship with former IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns set the wheels in motion for Timian to transfer to Bloomington — again as a walk-on.

The Texas native had a fresh start — but still had to work his way up from the bottom of the depth chart.

If he needed someone to follow on his journey as a walk-on, Timian found the ultimate trailblazer in former Hoosier receiver Mitchell Paige.  Now a football star in Germany, Paige faced all of the same doubts coming out of high school before walking-on at IU.

You already know how Paige’s story ended — ultimately earning a scholarship and becoming a star and leader on the team.  Timian started out behind the scenes, taking notes on his rommates’ progression.  It wasn’t easy.  Timian admitted at this year’s Big Ten media day that after his recruiting experience and years laboring under the walk-on label, he did second guess himself.

But the hard-worker persisted.

Ultimately, Timian first found the endzone as a redshirt freshman in the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Duke.  Moments like that can help you believe in yourself, and Timian carried the momentum into 2016.  As a sophomore he was named IU’s Outstanding Walk-On Player of the Year, securing 19 receptions for 277 yards and one touchdown.

Going into the 2017 season the former walk-on took one more stride in Paige’s footsteps —

When his high school coach described Timian as “one of the hardest workers we’ve ever had,” it would be easy to just write that off as coach speak.  After Timian finally got the much deserved recognition of a power-five scholarship, it would have been easy for him to cruise — but the Texan was just getting warmed up.

Those 68 catches in 2017 were good for third in the Big Ten and 39th nationally, and represent the 6th best single-season total in IU football history.  It seems “hard worker, route runner, and character” matter — and it likely comes as no surprise that Timian isn’t satisfied.

How is the senior wide receiver going to take his game to the next level?  In a word — speed.  While many of us might be content with simply moving at three miles per hour, Timian has added that to his repertoire this offseason.

Already known for his ability to get open in the slot and find the first down markers, Timian’s added pace could prove to be a nightmare for defenders.  His style seems like a perfect pairing with whichever of IU’s arsenal of mobile quarterbacks ends up being the starter.

Timian indicated that he has amped up his film study as well, focusing on similarly-sized NFL receivers to better understand how they excel in a big man’s game.

More than just being faster and better informed, you might not be surprised to learn that Timian has higher expectations for the 2018 season.  He informed reporters at the Big Ten’s media day that he is aiming for first team All-Big Ten.  You may not have noticed that he was already honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2017.

From a two-time walk-on to first team All-Big Ten?  Surely they would notice then, right?  Outside of the IU football community, the skeptics remain.  You won’t find anyone projecting Timian as first team All-Big Ten, or even second or third team for that matter.  You won’t find anyone saying he is even the best receiver on the team.  You will find questions as to whether he will start in the slot for the Hoosiers.

The doubters persist.  Luke Timian is going to have to fight once again to be noticed in 2018.  Based on his track record, that’s just the way he wants it.

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