With a big void left by an NFL bound former Hoosier, the tight end position was perhaps the most wide open position on the team going into fall camp.
With the presumed incumbent out with an undisclosed injury, the competition appears to be rolling on into the season.
Youth and inexperience rule the day in this group. Of the six tight ends on the Hoosier roster, only one has ever caught a pass at the college level. That is about to change.
WHO IS GONE
No unit on this football team has bigger shoes to fill than the tight end group. Ian Thomas was a fourth round NFL draft choice of the Carolina Panthers and appears to have a bright future in the league. Thomas was on the field a lot last year, meaning the rest of the group saw limited action.
WHO IS BACK
There are four familiar faces returning in 2018 at the tight end position.
Ryan Watercutter is a former walk-on and now redshirt senior. He is the only player in the tight end room that has caught a pass in college. He hauled in 12 passes last year backing up Thomas. He appeared to be on track to become the starter before it was announced last week that he had an undisclosed injury and would be out indefinitely. Offensive Coordinator and Tight End coach Mike DeBord made reference to one player having a “soft tissue” injury yesterday. We can only guess whether that may be Watercutter.
Peyton Hendershot a redshirt freshman from North Salem, Indiana, appeared on the week one depth chart as the starter. Based on comments from DeBord below, improved blocking by Hendershot may have been what locked him in as the week one starting role.
Austin Dorris is a redshirt junior that generated buzz throughout the spring and at fall camp and was expected by some to become the starter after Watercutter’s injury. It sounds like Dorris will get playing time in a fluid situation with this group.
Shaun Bonner is a redshirt sophomore that is a good blocker that will also see the field this season, at least in goal line situations and special teams.
WHO IS NEW
Matt Bjorson is a true freshman that has impressed DeBord with his ability to pick up the system and contribute.
TJ Ivy is a freshman from Chicago that is likely to redshirt.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
You can listen to DeBord discuss the group below and week one starter Hendershot further below.
The biggest open question is the status of Watercutter. Beyond that, this looks to be very much on track to be a committee approach despite Hendershot being named the starter. Tom Allen said this week that both Hendershot and Dorris will play. Look for Dorris to get plenty of snaps and Bonner and Bjorson to play in situations as the Hoosiers look for a star to emerge.
Previous positional previews: