Over the last couple weeks the writing was on the wall.
Indiana is no different than any other program when it comes to not giving away their gameplan and depth chart going into week one. You can always count on a little bit of subterfuge as teams try to hide the ball from one another before any film is cut.
But it when it came to the running back position and USC transfer Stephen Carr, the clues were out there. It started with the transfer of Sampson James, and then later glowing reviews by the coaching staff coming out of the team’s two scrimmages. While the week one depth chart may not be entirely based in reality, the running back spot is clear. Carr is the man, and IU has known that for a while.
“I think for him at that position it became pretty obvious,” head coach Tom Allen said of Carr on Monday. “There’s no doubt, he came here and knew and he had to earn that and I believe that he has.”
Carr arrived at IU with the most experience in the running back position, and the most impressive pedigree. Once recruited to USC by current IU running backs coach Deland McCullough, he was rated a five-star in the class of 2017. But Allen was looking for him to show up and earn the starting job and embrace the team’s selfless culture rather than rest on his laurels.
“He came here with zero entitlement at all, knew he had to earn the spot, ready to work, total team guy,” Allen said. “Not just in his words, his words definitely were that way, but his actions, and that’s what I look for and just body language and just how hard does he practice and how hard does he work on special teams and during those drills and those things that we ask him to do in those areas.”
Over four seasons at USC Carr ran for 1,329 yards on 264 carries (5.0 ypc) with 12 touchdowns, and caught 57 passes for 421 yards (7.4 ypc) with one touchdown. He dealt with injuries at USC, which left some to wonder if he was the same back athletically that he was coming out of high school.
Going into fall camp the running back competition was one of the more interesting to watch after three year starter Stevie Scott left for the NFL. James’ departure helped clarify things early on, and in the end there was a clear consensus.
“I think that even in that (running back) room and on the opposite side of the football everybody would agree that he’s earned it,” Allen said.
Sophomore Tim Baldwin appears to be the backup, and someone who can provide a burst of speed out of the backfield. He should get plenty of game action beginning on Saturday at Iowa. David Ellis has dealt with injuries at fall camp, so early on at least IU may not be particularly deep at the position. Walk-on Davion Ervin-Poindexter has earned praise from the staff, as has Charlie Spegal. True freshman David Holloman is a speedster who Allen named one of his top six freshmen at fall camp, and fellow first year back Trent Howland is another option.
No matter who is available, Allen said the plan is to give several backs playing time.
“We’re going to play a lot of guys at that position, always have, always will,” Allen said.
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