The Daily Hoosier is previewing each position group during the final days leading up to the opening kickoff of the 2022 Indiana football season on Sept. 2 against Illinois (schedule here).
Today we take a look at the cornerbacks.
THE SURE THINGS
There aren’t many bold proclamations that can be made about this team, but few teams in the country can put as much talent and experience on the edge as Indiana. Seniors Tiawan Mullen and Jaylin Williams are locks to start.
Mullen is coming off an injury-riddled 2021 season, but Indiana fans know what the former first team All-American is capable of when healthy. Mullen is a menace both in coverage and as a pass-rusher and tackler.
Williams achieved second team All-Big Ten status in 2020, but he suffered a bit from overuse last season once he become the last healthy cornerback standing with experience. He enters his final season as the program’s active interceptions leader.
THE BIG QUESTION
The Hoosiers will be playing plenty with three corners on the field, and they’d like to rotate others in for Mullen and Williams strategically.
But who will fill those roles was still being sorted out after Indiana’s second scrimmage on Friday. A year ago Reese Taylor was the main guy in that third spot, but he transferred to Purdue.
Chris Keys looked the part last season before he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Idaho. Lem Watley-Neely is in his third year with the program but was injured last year. Brylan Lanier transferred in from Alabama and has shown promise during fall camp after spending last year covering some of the nation’s top wideouts in practice.
Beyond that trio Indiana has three true freshman in the position room.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
IU head coach Tom Allen on the luxury as the defensive play-caller of having Mullen and Williams at cornerback —
“There’s no question it makes a difference. Those guys are very, very talented players. Even the new coaches who have come in on offense commented pretty quickly about their talent level you know compared to what they’ve seen in years past other places.
“They’re not just talented in regards to physical skills. Yes they’re fast and they’re tough and they tackle well and they defend well, but they’ve got a really good football IQ, a lot of football moxie and savvy to them and they understand the game and understand how how to position themselves and set things up and and it’s hard to coach that.
“It’s the instinctive things that guys have to them about the game of football and understanding it that they have and that’s probably the biggest thing I think that helps you do some extra stuff.
“We’ve got some new guys that have come in that are younger that have a lot of that to them to be a good compliment to what those guys do well so excited about that position and think they’ve got a chance to really be a group that can be one of our strengths.”
KEEP AN EYE ON
Mullen made an impact right away as a true freshman in 2019, and now the question on everyone’s mind is whether his younger brother can do the same.
Trevell Mullen is a bit taller than his brother and was a track star in high school. He was an ESPN and Rivals four-star prospect, ranked as the No. 177 prospect nationally and the No. 19 cornerback nationally by Rivals, and rated as the No. 183 prospect nationally and the No. 22 prospect in Florida by ESPN.
With a proven family pedigree that includes older brother and Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen, and cousin and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, it won’t be a surprise if Trevell carves out a meaningful role in year one.
See also: Tiawan taking Trevell under his wing
Position coach Brandon Shelby at 2022 fall camp:
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”