The Daily Hoosier is previewing each position group during the final days leading up to the opening kickoff of the 2021 Indiana football season on Sept. 4 against Iowa.
Today we take a look at the linebackers and bulls.
For the first time in the Tom Allen era, Indiana has outside linebackers listed on its roster.
Indiana tinkered with the bull position in 2020 and appears ready to feature that role this year. In essence the bull is like what IU is calling them — an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. They will be in a standing position on the edge of the defensive line.
That is about the only thing new at a position where a lot of high-end talent returns.
The inside linebacker group is coached by DC Charlton Warren, while Kasey Teegardin coaches the bull position along with his special teams duties.
WHO IS GONE
Indiana has everyone back at the linebacker and bull positions.
THE 2021 ROSTER
RETURNING WITH EXPERIENCE
Micah McFadden is the headline name back for the 2021 season. An All-American and first team All-Big Ten in 2020, he led the team with 58 tackles, 44 solos, six sacks, and 10.5 for loss. McFadden shared second with three quarterback hurries and finished fourth with two interceptions.
Cam Jones was honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2020. He led the team in quarterback hits and collected 35 tackles, 24 solo, with three sacks, four for loss, four quarterback hurries, and three pass breakups.
James Miller has played in 24 games over three years with three starts. He had 24 tackles, 16 solo, with one fumble recovery and one quarterback hurry in 2020.
Aaron Casey has played in 21 games over three years. He had 15 tackles, 10 solo, with one sack, three for loss, and one quarterback hurry in 2020.
Thomas Allen has played in 24 games over four seasons. He had eight tackles, six solo, with one forced fumble in four games before he suffered a season-ending hip injury in the win at Michigan State.
Michael Ziemba has played in 43 games with 10 starts over four seasons. He had 11 tackles, nine solo, one for loss, and one quarterback hurry in eight games with one start in 2020.
Alfred Bryant has played in 28 games with six starts over five seasons. He made seven tackles, five solo, with two pass breakups in 2020.
D.K. Bonhomme has played in 19 games with three starts over two seasons. He posted 15 tackles, 11 solo, with one sack, two stops for loss, and one safety in 2020.
NAMES ON THE RISE/IMPACT NEWCOMERS
Cameron Williams is in his third season with the program. He has played in five games thus far.
Ty Wise is in his second season with the program. He made his collegiate debut and lone appearance in the Outback Bowl.
Maurice Freeman is a true freshman who was a defensive back in high school but is listed as a linebacker.
Matt Hohlt is a walk-on who head coach Tom Allen referred to as one of the top six freshmen at fall camp.
Jaren Handy is a transfer from Auburn and a former top-100 4-star recruit. Handy played in 14 games at defensive end over the last two seasons, recording 10 tackles, 3 for loss, a sack, 2 quarterback hurries and a pass break up over the two campaigns.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Tom Allen on the linebacker room —
“I expect a lot from them. I’ve always said you’re only as good as your linebackers defensively, and if you want to have a great defense, you have to have great linebackers, and we have a great room. They’re not just great players, they are great people and leaders.”
Cam Jones on working with fellow linebacker Micah McFadden —
“It is crazy the way that we connect, whether it is on or off the field. We have an opportunity to work things out in a way that people normally don’t work things out as a linebacker group or as a defense. I remember today during the walk through; we had a problem with a play, and we were able to jog off to the sideline and figure it out right then and there. Now, we are on the same page and know that mistake will never happen again. Having a guy that is as football smart as me and just as talented right next to me is amazing.”
DC Charlton Warren on the bull position —
“I think those guys have done a great job. Coach [Kasey] Teegardin has really gotten that group to buy into the rush part, the run defense part and the coverage part. I think that group has really started to excel in some pass rush areas especially on second-and-long and third down. I’ve really seen an improvement from those guys in the run game. Those guys are being physical. Those guys are setting edges. If we bring them in some different ways, they show some quickness and twitch off the edge and they also show their versatility. I think that position is morphed into what we thought it would be with that group and those four guys are doing a really great job.”
McFadden and Jones are the clear starters and perhaps the best duo in the league at the two inside linebacker spots. The Hoosiers can comfortably rotate in a lot of talent behind them at what is perhaps the deepest position on the team.
Who starts at bull is less clear. Ziemba and Bryant are the program veterans, but Bonhomme played the position the most last year. Handy popped late in fall camp with several sacks and may just jump to the top of the depth chart. He came to IU to play the position and certainly was viewed as a high-end talent coming out of high school two years ago.
MORE 2021 POSITION PREVIEWS
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