Indiana Football: The Hoosiers Need to Pass on Tommy Stevens

Let’s get it out of the way — you can’t blame a teenager for chasing a dream. And we don’t.

But there are life lessons along the path to those dreams.  You can’t ignore that either.

A lot of top flight Indiana high school quarterbacks have chased their dreams beyond the borders of the Hoosier state over the last decade.

In 2011, Columbus’ Gunner Kiel did it, breaking a commitment to IU to chase a dream at LSU.  That journey ultimately saw him spend a redshirt season at Notre Dame before pulling together a modest three years at Cincinnati.

In 2014, Decatur Central’s Tommy Stevens did it, as he switched his commitment from Kevin Wilson’s high profile aerial attack at Indiana for allegedly greener pastures at Penn State.  That happened just days after Penn State had defeated Indiana on the football field.  Stevens is now looking for a new home for his final year of eligibility.  We’ll come back to that.

In 2015, Avon’s Brandon Peters did it.  The Indiana Mr. Football chose to join a crowded quarterback room at Michigan without ever seriously considering in-state schools.  He’ll finish his career with the Wolverines without ever seeing consistently meaningful action, or he may end up transferring too.

In 2016, Brownsburg’s Hunter Johnson did it.  Another Indiana Mr. Football, Johnson chased glory at Clemson.  After sitting out the 2018 season, Johnson will play for Northwestern this year.

Mistakes happen, but it is undeniable that there has been a less than desirable pattern over the last decade for the top in-state quarterbacks.

Oh, and consider this…

Just this week, former Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld signed a $3.1 million tender with the Philadelphia Eagles for the upcoming season.  2019 will be his fourth season in the NFL, and that contract will put his career earnings at right around $5 million.

The obvious point here?  The grass isn’t always greener folks.  It is cherry picking to be sure, but the only person who made some serious green among this group honed his craft in Bloomington.

Take a look around the NFL.  There will be starting quarterbacks next year from Eastern Illinois, Miami of Ohio, California, Boston College, NC State, North Dakota State, Delaware, Wyoming and others.  All fine schools, but hardly a “whose who” of college football.

There is a strong case to be made for going to a lower profile school and developing all of the intangibles that come from starting multiple years as opposed to walking into a deep competition where people are going to end up transferring.

A rather obvious case, really.

But this isn’t about being bitter.  Again, by all means, pursue your dreams.  Just make sure it is an informed pursuit.  The path to green isn’t always what it seems.

No, this is about learning lessons.  Not just lessons by young men, but by football programs — like Indiana.

At least one outlet is reporting that the Hoosiers are a possible landing spot for Stevens.  In their story on Stevens’ decision to transfer, Penn Live said this:

“As for potential landing spots for Stevens, his home state Indiana Hoosiers have been batted around as one possible destination…”

The Indy Star is also reporting that two in-state programs have been in touch with Stevens.

Last year, Indiana brought in graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins around this time and injected him into a three-way quarterback race with Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix.

It made some sense at the time with Ramsey and Penix both being young and relatively unproven.

New IU quarterback Jack Tuttle transferred from Utah.  (Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

Both of those guys are back for IU with experience under their belts.  The Hoosiers have also added transfer Jack Tuttle, who by all accounts was incredibly impressive this spring.  All three are eligible to play in 2019, and all three are legitimate contenders for the job.

Head coach Tom Allen gets paid to win games, and if he believes that adding yet another competitor into the mix is the right answer, then that’s what he should do.

But from this vantage point, we’re good.  Injecting a fourth guy into the race could not possibly bode well for team chemistry.  Especially not someone who is unproven and whose father indicated was transferring for “selfish” reasons.

Dawkins at least had a track record on the field coming into Bloomington last year, and yet there still ended up being a larger story as to why he was the odd man out at Arizona.  There is always a larger story.

If IU had a desperate situation at quarterback in 2019 then perhaps they could be “selfish” too.  But they don’t.  The Hoosiers are talented and need to #LEO by loving the ones they’re with this time.

Stevens is surely a talented quarterback.  He’s already thrown more touchdown passes at Memorial Stadium than Penix and Tuttle.  Those selfish motivations are somewhat understandable, and we wish him well.  It is always nice to see Indiana kids succeed.

But whoever comes out on top of this IU quarterback competition is going to be more than worthy.

It isn’t about bitterness, but it isn’t about a revolving door either.

Indiana is all set for 2019.

And the next round of top flight in-state quarterbacks might want to take note.

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