From Tegray Scales to Micah McFadden to Cam Jones, linebackers have been the heart-and-soul of Tom Allen’s Indiana defenses.
Does IU have a game-changer like them at linebacker in 2023?
Below we look at the roster turnover, projected depth chart, quotes and notes on both the outside and inside linebacker positions for the 2023 Hoosiers.
ROSTER TURNOVER — WHO’S GONE
- Cam Jones (out of eligibility),
- Dasan McCullough – OLB (transfer — Oklahoma),
- Bradley Jennings Jr. (out of eligibility),
- Lance Bryant -OLB (out of eligibility)
ROSTER TURNOVER — WHO’S BACK
- Aaron Casey (redshirt fifth-year senior),
- Jared Casey (redshirt senior),
- Myles Jackson – OLB (redshirt junior),
- Matt Hohlt (redshirt sophomore),
- Kaiden Turner (redshirt freshman),
- Isaiah Jones (redshirt freshman)
ROSTER TURNOVER — WHO’S NEW
- Joshua Rudolph (transfer — Austin Peay),
- Darryl Minor (transfer — UTEP),
- Jacob Mangum-Farrar (transfer — Stanford),
- Lanell Carr – OLB (transfer — West Virginia),
- Trey Laing – OLB (transfer — Southern),
- Anthony Jones – OLB (transfer — Oregon)
- Orlando Greenlow — OLB (3-star)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Aaron Casey (6-foot-2, 235) is a lock to start at the stinger inside linebacker spot after earning some All-Big Ten recognition a year ago.
Jacob Mangum-Farrar (6-foot-4, 240) is the likely starter at mike linebacker. That’s a big responsibility as signal-caller as he transitions from a different scheme at Stanford.
Indiana will rotate at both inside linebackers spots, and Josh Rudolph (5-foot-11, 230), Matt Hohlt (6-foot-2, 225), Jared Casey (6-foot-3, 225), and Kaiden Turner (6-foot-2, 230) are all competing for those second-string snaps. Rudolph was highly productive with 73 tackles a year ago at the FCS level. Hohlt, Casey and Turner all saw game action a year ago with IU.
At outside linebacker, Lanell Carr (6-foot-1, 240) likely sits atop the depth chart, especially in passing situations. The staff is very high on his pass rushing ability.
Indiana will have two outside linebackers on the field at times, and Myles Jackson (6-foot-2, 250) or Anthony Jones (6-foot-4, 255) are in a battle for snaps there as well. All three of Carr, Jackson and Jones are talented and versatile, and all of them appear likely to see the field in various situations.
We are now several years into the Allen’s utilization of the OLB position referred to as the bull within the program. They had some success with it in 2020 as something new that caught teams off guard. But IU has been searching for the right fit since. Dasan McCullough was bound to be a star at the bull before he transferred to Oklahoma. It looks like the Hoosiers have three promising talents at the spot in Carr, Jones and Jackson. Could this be the year of the bull?
Tom Allen on Lanell Carr:
“He’s really shown a very instinctual knack for getting to the quarterback. That’s a huge thing we brought him here for.
“As he’s bought into the training, bought into the disciplines of what we think it takes to be a special player here and in the Big Ten, you’ve seen him grow in his knowledge of the defense. He and (fellow linebacker) Myles (Jackson) have really sharpened each other in a huge way.”
Aaron Casey on some of his teammates on the inside:
“We’ve got some depth at the linebacker position. Matt Hohlt, he just got put on scholarship and I’m really excited for him for that. He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve been around and he’s just really knows how to play the backer position really well to where he’s switching between the two (inside) positions.
“Jacob Mangum-Farrar, he’s come in and added a lot of exciting things to our defense. He can play multiple positions on the field and he’s a really athletic guy
“Josh Rudolph, he’s a workhorse, he’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve been around.”
Linebackers coach Chad Wilt on Aaron Casey’s growth over the last year:
“Tremendous growth by Aaron. We talk about confidence; a lot of confidence comes from demonstrative performance. Aaron had a phenomenal season last year. He just saw his growth and the confidence based on what he did last year but then the other things he’s doing behind closed doors, the unseen stuff, the dirty hard work in the dark that nobody sees. His preparation, his mental growth, his confidence in himself as a player. We had Cam Jones last year, but even after Cam got hurt, Cam was still the leader. Guess what, Cam is gone. Aaron and I have had a lot of conversations. He doesn’t have to be Cam Jones. All he has to do is to be the best version of Aaron Casey.”
WHY IT WILL WORK
In Carr and Mangum-Farrar, Indiana believes they’ve hit home runs in the portal. Carr should significantly enhance the Hoosiers’ ability to get to the quarterback, especially if he can put defenses in a bind playing alongside edge rusher Andre Carter. Meanwhile, Mangum-Farrar is the prototypical modern middle linebacker, with the combination of size and speed that projects a breakout season.
Also, if the IU defensive line is as improved as many believe it is, that should free up space for Indiana’s linebackers to make plays in the backfield.
WHY IT WON’T
When Cam Jones was injured a year ago, there was a major drop-off in production from the inside linebacker spot. Jones and Dasan McCullough on the outside were two of the stars of the defense, and both are gone. Indiana has some intriguing potential both inside and out, but none beyond Aaron Casey who are proven at the Big Ten level.
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