UPDATED – JANUARY 13, 2018 – RB Devonte Williams has announced his intent to transfer to Southeastern Louisiana University.
Following the disappointing and sudden end to the 2017 Indiana football season, it is time, perhaps reluctantly, to look ahead to the 2018 season. You can review the 2018 schedule here. Today we look at who’s leaving and coming back as the 2018 roster takes shape.
At the time we first published this article upon the immediate conclusion of the 2017 season, perhaps the biggest open question for next year’s roster was whether wide receiver Simmie Cobbs would return. That question has been answered as the Hoosiers will unfortunately lose Cobbs to the NFL. Nevertheless, the returning offense should be a source of optimism for IU fans, with a wealth of talent returning at both the skill positions and the offensive line.
It is another story on the other side of the ball, as many of the core players from the defense are gone, including likely NFL draft pick Tegray Scales. Coach Tom Allen will have several players returning that have experience in his system, but he’ll need to recreate some of his 2016 magic in order to get this unit playing at a high level.
On the recruiting front, as it stands today Indiana should have one of its better classes in years. As of this updated writing (Jan. 3) the class was ranked in the 247 sports composite at 42nd in the nation, with all previously committed players having signed national letters of intent and two previously uncommitted players also signing. You can take a look at the complete 2018 recruiting class here.
QUARTERBACKS: Should be a position of strength for many years to come with Ramsey likely leading the way.
Leaving: Richard Lagow (Graduation).
Key Returning: Peyton Ramsey, Nick Tronti. Newcomers Michael Penix and Reese Taylor could be difficult to keep off the field.
RUNNING BACKS: Perhaps the deepest and most talented position on the team in 2018 but hit by transfers.
Leaving: Tyler Natee (Transfer), Alex Rodriguez (Transfer), and Devonte Williams (Transfer)
Key Returning: Morgan Ellison, Cole Gest, Mike Majette, Ricky Brookins. 2018 recruit Ronnie Walker is top 20 at his position nationally.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Big losses in Simmie Cobbs and Mack. Nevertheless IU has a lot of returning talent.
Leaving: Simmie Cobbs (NFL), Taysir Mack (Transfer) and Phil Benker (Transfer)
Key Returning: Nick Westbrook, Whop Philyor, Luke Timian, J-Shun Harris, Donovan Hale
TIGHT ENDS: Ian Thomas is a big loss. Watercutter brings experience and the Hoosiers have young depth.
Leaving: Ian Thomas (Graduation)
Key returning: Ryan Watercutter, Austin Dorris, Peyton Hendershot, Shaun Bonner
OFFENSIVE LINE: Yet another position on offense where virtually everyone is returning.
Leaving: Danny Friend (Graduation)
Key returning: Coy Cronk, Wes Martin, Hunter Littlejohn, Simon Stepaniak, Brandon Knight, Grayson Stover, Harry Crider, Mackenzie Nworah, Delroy Baker
New addition: Nick Linder (transfer from Miami Fl)
DEFENSIVE LINE: The core of the defensive line is graduating. Indiana will have to replace a lot of talent but has some experience returning.
Leaving: Greg Gooch, Nate Hoff, Robert McCray (all Graduation)
Key Returning: Jacob Robinson, Michael Barwick, Nile Sykes, Juan Harris, Ja’Merez Bown, Allen Stallings, Jerome Johnson, LeShaun Minor, Brandon Wilson
LINEBACKERS: 2 Big losses here including likely NFL draft pick Tegray Scales.
Leaving: Tegray Scales, Chris Covington (both Graduation)
Key Returning: Dameon Willis, Mike McGinnis, Reakwon Jones, Kiante Walton
DEFENSIVE BACKS/HUSKY: Big losses but also some key returning players.
Leaving: Rashard Fant, Tony Fields, Chase Dutra (all Graduation), Zeke Walker (Transfer)
Key Returning: Marcelino Ball, Jonathan Crawford, A’Shon Riggins, Andre Brown, Isaac James, Khalil Bryant, Raheem Layne, Tyler Green, Ben Bach.
KICKER: Griffin Oakes had an exceptional senior year and will be difficult to replace.
Leaving: Griffin Oakes (Graduation)
Key Returning: Competition between Logan Justus, Jared Smolar, incoming freshman Charles Campbell
PUNTER: Haydon Whitehead had a solid season and seems like the clear starter for 2018.
Key Returning: Haydon Whitehead.
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[photo credit – Noble Guyon, IDS]