With spring camp over, Indiana football now has another chance to assess and address its roster.
The transfer portal reopened on April 15 through the end of the month. That window is the time frame in which players can enter the portal — they can then commit whenever after April 30. Organized team activities will begin again in June, so the Hoosiers have a chance to make some additions.
IU currently has a handful of open scholarships. During a media availability in early April, IU head coach Tom Allen said the staff would be looking at possible transfer portal reinforcements.
“It’s different for everybody to be able to have that as an opportunity and having to get those guys on campus and and get them here officially before summer starts. So it’s a new world to adjust to,” Allen said. “But yeah, it gives us an opportunity to go out and kind of see post-spring where you’re at.”
Here are some spots at which the Hoosiers could potentially add players.
Indiana’s tight end room is relatively young and inexperienced.
Redshirt sophomores Aaron Steinfeldt and James Bomba saw very limited playing time last season, with AJ Barner handling most of the game reps. The room features just one upperclassman in redshirt senior Trey Walker, a walk-on.
Steinfeldt had a good spring, and was named one of the team’s most improved offensive players. True freshman Sam West also drew praise on several occasions.
Bomba missed this spring after having postseason surgery, but Allen said he’ll be back and ready to go this summer. Walker also missed some time this spring with minor injuries.
But Allen said after Spring Football Saturday that the Hoosiers could add a veteran tight end from the portal ahead of fall camp. It would make sense, if the right player is available and interested.
Steinfeldt and Bomba could be in line for larger roles this season. But unless tight ends coach Kevin Wright and IU’s offensive staff feel comfortable with those two completely handling what Barner and his predecessors at the position did, there is playing time available.
Offensive and defensive line
During that early April availability, Allen mentioned these areas as places IU may emphasize in the portal.
On the offensive line, the Hoosiers have several key veterans returning, saw positive development in some younger options this spring, and added a possible contributor (Max Longman) in the first portal window.
So unless offensive line coach Bob Bostad and staff are uncomfortable with potentially having players like redshirt junior Kahlil Benson, redshirt sophomore Josh Sales Jr., or redshirt freshman Carter Smith on the field this fall, any further offensive line additions could just be depth moves.
But it’s possible the Hoosiers could look to add a veteran to plug in and play — especially if they think Matthew Bedford may not return from his torn ACL as the player he was before it.
The defensive line, though, is a different story. IU lost most of its contributors on that side of the line from last year.
The Hoosiers added three defensive linemen from the portal in the first window in Marcus Burris Jr., Philip Blidi, and Andre Carter — though Carter could end up more of an outside pass rusher than an interior lineman.
IU had just two returning upperclassmen on the defensive line in Patrick Lucas Jr. and LeDarrius Cox. There are possible contributors already on the team, between those players, the guys the Hoosiers already added from the portal, and some younger options.
But this is a spot with some playing time potentially available still, and even if IU goes with what it already has on the roster, some more depth wouldn’t hurt.
After highlighting the offensive and defensive lines, Allen said the team could look to bring in a skill position player on each side of the ball.
He could’ve been referring to tight end, offensively, when he said that. But wide receiver, running back, and defensive back seem like some of the more sturdy areas on the team.
IU has seven running backs, and Allen said after Spring Football Saturday that he saw as many as five from that group who could contribute this season. So if they added anyone from the portal there, it seems more likely it’d be a depth move.
The Hoosiers had 12 wide receivers this spring, and have three more on the way for fall camp. And IU appears to have a lot of good options at the position already. That’s not to say there couldn’t be a player available who’s good enough to earn a role, or someone who could be a reliable backup. But the Hoosiers don’t need to add anyone at receiver to feel good about their options there.
There’s more unknown in the secondary, with the amount of turnover the Hoosiers saw after last season. And even the veterans IU had in place last season — a reason why the secondary was supposed to be one of the team’s main strengths — routinely struggled.
IU will have a lot of new faces in the secondary already, even without any further additions before fall camp. It’s possible the staff brings in another option, especially at cornerback. That feels more plausible than adding offensive skill players. But the team seems to already have solid depth in the secondary, particularly at safety.
Unlike the other positions, Allen has not mentioned quarterback as a potential spot to add anyone at.
And it’s quite possible the team will stay put with its existing options.
But similar to tight end, the quarterback room is very young and has little game experience. Brendan Sorsby and Tayven Jackson competed this spring with the starting job up for grabs, and that race is seemingly tight coming out of spring. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Walt Bell praised true freshman Broc Lowry as well this spring, though the battle for the starting role appeared to be a two-man race.
Redshirt junior Dexter Williams played in IU’s last four games last season, with starts in the last two. He flashed potential, especially as a runner, though looked pretty raw as a passer. He led IU to a comeback victory at Michigan State in the only game he played all the way through. Williams suffered a brutal leg injury in the finale against Purdue, and missed this spring while still recovering. Ahead of Spring Football Saturday, Bell said Williams recently started running, but was unsure of his timetable for a return.
So that leaves Indiana with three healthy scholarship quarterbacks. I’m not sure if the Hoosiers would look to bring in just any quarterback, just as another body in the room. There may be a tricky dynamic to navigate after adding Jackson from the portal in January.
But if there’s a veteran option available in the portal that they like and think could be a superior option to both Jackson and Sorsby in 2023, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Hoosiers bring in that sort of player.