The Daily Hoosier is previewing each position group during the final days leading up to the opening kickoff of the 2019 Indiana University football season on August 31 against Ball State in Indianapolis.
Today we take a look at the safety and husky positions
There is little question where the heart and soul of the Indiana defense resides in 2019.
Similar to the linebackers, IU will have young but experienced talent at safety and husky this year, with a next level talented veteran leading the way.
Tom Allen and Kane Wommack’s defense is built for takeaways, and this is the group that should be at the center of the action.
WHO IS GONE
It is only one name — but it’s a big one. So big in fact that Marcelino Ball changed his uniform to honor his former teammate Jonathan Crawford as he attempts to address the team’s “unfinished business” and make the jersey number No. 9 something special that is passed on through the years.
Crawford became the first Hoosier and the 12th Big Ten player to start 50 games. Crawford is one of only four IU players to appear in 50 games. He started every game since his arrival at Indiana. Crawford shares eighth on the program’s career list with nine interceptions.
THE 2019 ROSTER
WHO IS BACK
The Hoosiers return several key pieces and should have talent capable of starting two deep at both safety positions and husky.
Ball is the unquestioned leader of this group and one of the most respected voices in the locker room. A factor in this program since he was 17 years old, Ball could become a dominant force over his last two seasons at husky if he can stay healthy. If Indiana breaks through in 2019, Ball is likely to be a big reason why.
Bryant Fitzgerald was a part of six total takeaways in 2018 and returns as just a redshirt sophomore. A big strong free safety, he seems to be a clear starter for years to come.
Juwan Burgess and Khalil Bryant are likely the No. 2 safeties in 2019 to start the season and both will play plenty. That is a huge bonus for Indiana because both have a lot experience and can be counted on in the rotation and in the event of injury.
NAMES ON THE RISE / IMPACT NEWCOMERS
Likely lining up next to Fitzgerald starting on the back end will be Devon “Monster” Matthews. The sophomore flashed his huge potential as a true freshman although he was limited with a shoulder injury.
With Cam Jones moving to linebacker, look for Jamar Johnson to fill in as the No. 2 husky and get plenty of playing time behind Ball.
Although not listed above, Noah Pierre could also play safety in 2019 as well.
Jordan Jusevtich returns as a redshirt freshman. The in-state product appears to be on track to be a factor as an upperclassmen.
Josh Sanguinetti is a true freshman that was a highly rated recruit and he is already getting positive reviews during fall camp.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Safeties coach Kasey Teegardin discussed his position group earlier in the week.
(Video credit – Indiana Sports Beat)
When asked at IU’s media day how good IU’s back seven can be this year, Fitzgerald said “scary good,” noting the speed, physicality and swagger in the safety group.
Indiana was one of the top takeaway producing defenses in the country in 2018, with the safety and husky positions playing a big role in that. With at least two deep talent across the board, IU’s back end could be primed for a big season.
On the other hand, with such an aggressive, ball hawking mentality, the Hoosiers were a bit vulnerable at times over the top last year. They’ll need to shore that up to avoid big plays.
With all but one player in this group having two years or more of eligibility remaining, safety and husky should be the foundation of the defense for years to come.
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