Penix in action against Penn State in 2018. Photo Credit - Getty Images North America

Indiana Football: Who is Returning in 2019?

Too soon?  After another frustrating 5-7 season, it surely is for some.  For others, there’s always hope for that elusive breakthrough season.

It will be a long nine months before we kick off the 2019 IU football season, and four months until spring practice.

There will surely be more roster fluctuation between now and the 2019 season opener on August 31 against Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (you can see the entire 2019 schedule here).

But it’s time to take an initial look forward to what next year’s campaign has in store.

Our first blush reaction?  IU is going to return a lot of talent virtually across the board.  The biggest question mark is probably on the defensive line, but otherwise, there is good reason for optimism at the other position groups, assuming that you are still with us after looking at that 2019 schedule.

Just returning a lot of players won’t be enough.  Indiana needs to get better to avoid the dreaded “more of the same” 2019 season that is all too familiar to Hoosier fans.

QUARTERBACKS:  We are going to do the quarterback competition all over again in 2019, sans Brandon Dawkins.  Ramsey will have the early edge with Penix coming off a knee injury and unable to go full speed until June, but many believe that Penix will ultimately claim the starting job.

Leaving:  None.

Key Returning:  Peyton Ramsey, Michael Penix, Johnny Pabst, and Mike Fiacable all return.  Reese Taylor must also be mentioned here as well.  He will likely start the season as the third string quarterback and a wide receiver.

Transferring to Indiana:  Jack Tuttle is coming to IU from Utah.  He is likely to be eligible immediately and should compete for the starting job.  You can read more about him here.

RUNNING BACKS:  Should be a position of strength in 2019 with returning talent and a top newcomer.  Stevie Scott seems like the clear day one starter, but Cole Gest had that role last year and will be back, and Ronnie Walker should challenge as well.

Leaving:  Mike Majette (Eligibility), Ricky Brookins (Eligibility) Craig Nelson (Transfer)

Key Returning:  Stevie Scott, Cole Gest and Ronnie Walker will be the primary contributors with Kristian Pechac and Ahrod Lloyd also in the conversation.  True freshman Sampson James (a top 200 recruit nationally) will also be in the mix.

WIDE RECEIVERS:  IU will have big losses in Luke Timian and J-Shun Harris.  Nevertheless, they have a lot of returning talent that should continue to make wide receiver a position of strength in 2019.

Leaving:  Luke Timian (Eligibility), J-Shun Harris (Eligibility)

Key Returning:  Nick Westbrook, Whop Philyor, Donovan Hale, Ty Fryfogle, Reese Taylor, Chris Gajcak, Miles Marshall, Jacolby Hewitt.

TIGHT ENDS:  With a year under their belts and young talent returning, the tight end position should be a more prominent one in 2019.  Peyton Hendershot emerged in 2018 and could see a much larger role in the offense.

Leaving:  Ryan Watercutter (Eligibility, may have option to medical redshirt), Austin Dorris (Graduate Transfer)

Key returning:  Peyton Hendershot, Shaun Bonner, Matt Bjorson

OFFENSIVE LINE:  IU suffers key losses on its offensive line, but with so much depth, the position should not be a liability in 2019.  Indiana will be able to have a line with starting experience at almost every position, with the biggest question at right guard.

Leaving:  Nick Linder (Eligibility), Brandon Knight (Eligibility), Delroy Baker (Eligibility), Wes Martin (Eligibility)

Key returning:  Coy Cronk, Hunter Littlejohn, Simon Stepaniak, Harry Crider, Caleb Jones, Davondre Love, Britt Beery

DEFENSIVE LINE:  For the second year in a row, major pieces on the defensive line are graduating.  Indiana will have to replace a lot of talent but has some experience returning including some promising young players.  Indiana will need to improve substantially here next year if it wants to make progress as a program.

Leaving:  Jacob Robinson (Eligibility), Nile Sykes (Eligibility), Mike Barwick (Eligibility), Kayton Samuels (Eligibility), Ja’Merez Bowen (Eligibility)

Key Returning:  Allen Stallings, Jerome Johnson, LeShaun Minor, Brandon Wilson, Sharmar Jones, Michael Ziemba, Gavin Everett, James Head, Jonathan King, Madison Norris, Alfred Bryant, Tramar Reece.  Four star recruit Beau Robbins is worth a mention here as well.

LINEBACKERS:  Dameon Willis is a key loss, but linebacker is shaping up to be a position of strength for Indiana with experienced young talent after a year of transition.

Leaving:  Dameon Willis (Eligibility), Michael McGinnis (Eligibility) TD Roof (No Longer Playing Football)

Key Returning:  Reakwon Jones, Thomas Allen, Micah McFadden, James Miller

HUSKY: Indiana should be rock solid at its hybrid linebacker/safety position.

Leaving:  None

Key Returning:  Marcelino Ball, Cam Jones, Jamar Johnson

CORNERBACKS:  No major losses at a position that has the potential to be good in 2018.

Leaving:  None

Key Returning:  A’Shon Riggins, Andre Brown, Isaac James, Raheem Layne, Jaylin Williams.  Recruit Tiawan Mullin is highly regarded as well.

SAFETY:  Four year starter Jonathan Crawford is a big loss, but this could still be one of the best positions on the team next year.

Leaving:  Jonathan Crawford (Eligibility)

Key Returning:  Khalil Bryant, Bryant Fitzgerald, Devon Matthews, Juwan Burgess

SPECIAL TEAMS 

Leaving:  Dan Godsil (LS/Eligibility)

Key Returning:  Logan Justus (K), Jared Smolar (Kickoffs), Haydon Whitehead (P) and Drew Conrad (Holder)


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