The IU football team is on location in Florida completing final preparations for Thursday’s Gator Bowl against Tennessee.
Below are a few items of note from Jacksonville this week.
Indiana (8-4) and the Volunteers (7-5) kickoff at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday night in Jacksonville, Fla. at The Gator Bowl.
See also: Video from practice in Jacksonville
STATUS UPDATES FOR INJURED PLAYERS
Indiana head coach Tom Allen provided updates on several Hoosier players that are dealing with various injuries.
Running back Sampson James and tackle Matthew Bedford have both been practicing and are expected to play against Tennessee on Thursday.
Running back Stevie Scott is still recovering from an injury that he suffered against Michigan. His status is uncertain for the Gator Bowl. James would get the start if Scott cannot go. Ronnie Walker, Jr. would also be in line for an expanded role.
Joining Scott in the uncertain category is senior co-captain guard Simon Stepaniak, who suffered an injury during practice this week.
INTERESTING DYNAMICS FOR TENNESSEE NATIVE HOOSIERS
When the Hoosiers take the field on Thursday night, six IU players will be facing their signature home state program.
The ties run especially deep for linebacker Cam Jones, who had an older brother that played for the Volunteers and a family full of UT fans.
“It means a lot for my family, Jones said this week.
“They were die-hard Tennessee fans, my brother actually played at Tennessee. When they found out the news, they told me they were all Indiana Hoosiers fans, wearing Indiana jerseys. It means a lot, especially playing against guys I was playing against when I was really young. It means a lot, I’m excited.”
The six Hoosiers that hail from Tennessee are as follows:
- LB Cam Jones (Memphis)
- WR Jacolby Hewitt (Cordova)
- DB Jaylin Williams (Memphis)
- RB Connor Thomas (Clarksville)
- OL Matthew Bedford (Cordova)
- K Charles Campbell (Jackson)
A HOMECOMING FOR TWO IU SAFETIES
While a total of 24 IU players are from the state of Florida, spending the week in Jacksonville has special significance for two IU safeties.
Senior Khalil Bryant will play what is likely the final football game of his career in front of friends and family in his hometown of Jacksonville.
“It’s surreal, unbelievable, to say the least,” Bryant said on the practice field on Amelia Island. “To have the opportunity to play back in my hometown for my last game is just an honor to be able to play.”
Bryant, who was second on the team in tackles and an Academic All-Big Ten selection, expects a lot of hometown support on Thursday night.
“I’ve been trying to get tickets since we found out I was playing at home,” Bryant said. “I have a big crowd coming, trying to pack out the TIAA Bank Field.”
Bryant attended First Coast High School, which is about a 20 minute drive to TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the site of the Gator Bowl.
Also from the Jacksonville area is fellow safety Devon Matthews. Coming to IU from Ribault High School, Matthews played in all 12 games this year and accumulated 34 tackles on the season.
“That’s my hometown, so it’s always nice to come back to my hometown,” Matthews said. “All my family from Jacksonville, they are definitely going to be there (at the game).”
Ribault is about eight miles from the stadium.
FUN TIMES IN JACKSONVILLE
It isn’t all work and no play as the Hoosiers get ready for Thursday night. The IU players have had the opportunity to relax and have some recreational time this week in Jacksonville.
Here are a couple videos released by the program.
🗣 Foooooore! pic.twitter.com/l8i97ZPTTi
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) December 31, 2019
Eating good. 🍽 Living better. pic.twitter.com/g6jbhZ0Yfz
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) December 30, 2019
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