Indiana football’s defensive back room may have lost more experience this offseason than any other position group.
IU saw four veteran starters graduate and leave the program in Tiawan Mullen, Jaylin Williams, Devon Matthews, and Bryant Fitzgerald. The group still struggled last season despite that experience, with one of the worst pass defenses in the country.
So Indiana’s secondary, now, will be a mix of returning faces in bigger roles and transfer adds.
The exception to that is redshirt fifth-year senior Noah Pierre, who started seven games for IU last year at husky. He’ll take over the leadership role in the secondary this year as the lone returning starter.
Aside from him, at cornerback and safety, there are a lot of different guys in the mix. Senior Louis Moore played in every game for IU last year after transferring in from Juco, and he could be in line for more playing time this season. Redshirt junior Bryson Bonds is in a similar boat.
Redshirt senior Josh Sanguinetti saw the field at safety a good amount, and has one interception in each of the last two seasons. He entered spring as a favorite to start next year.
Phillip Dunnam got some playing time last year, and Pierre said he’s pushed Sanguinetti for the starting safety spot. Other underclassmen in the secondary who have received praise this spring include redshirt freshmen Trevell Mullen and Jamari Sharpe.
But between the starters who graduated and the several guys waiting in the wings who transferred, like Chris Keys and Brylan Lanier, IU had to address the secondary in the transfer portal. And the Hoosiers did so aggressively, adding five defensive back transfers.
Cornerback Nicolas Toomer is the only one of those five not currently with the team for spring ball, as the graduate transfer finishes out his last semester at Stanford. He’s appeared in 20 games for the Cardinal over the last two seasons, with three starts in each campaign.
Cornerback Jamier Johnson saw some playing time for Texas in a backup role last season, though he started one game. Kobee Minor came in from Texas Tech, with 23 appearances over three seasons for the Red Raiders. They could be in the mix for the Hoosiers, as well.
Juco transfer safeties Tyrik McDaniel and Jamison Kelly both showed promise at their previous schools, after both leaving other Division I programs beforehand — things didn’t work out for Kelly at Louisiana Tech nor McDaniel at Old Dominion. But they could have opportunities to play this season for IU.
No matter who Matt Guerrieri and Brandon Shelby go with in the secondary, there will be a lot of new faces in IU’s defensive backfield for the first time in several years.
Leaving: Tiawan Mullen- CB (opted to not use COVID year), Bryant Fitzgerald – S (out of eligibility), Jaylin Williams- CB (out of eligibility), Devon Matthews – S (out of eligibility), Jonathan Haynes – S (out of eligibility), Brylan Lanier – CB (entered transfer portal, no destination yet), Chris Keys – CB (transfer — Mississippi State), Lem Watley-Neely – CB (transfer — Kent State)
Key Returning: Noah Pierre – H (redshirt fifth-year senior), Josh Sanguinetti – S (redshirt senior), Louis Moore – S (senior), Bryson Bonds – S (redshirt junior), Jordan Grier – S/H (junior), Phillip Dunnam – S (sophomore), Trevell Mullen – CB (redshirt freshman), James Monds III – CB (redshirt freshman), Jamari Sharpe – CB (redshirt freshman)
Incoming: Jamison Kelly – S (transfer — Jones Community College), Jamier Johnson – CB (transfer — Texas), Tyrik McDaniel – S (transfer — Independence Community College), Nicolas Toomer – CB (transfer — Stanford), Kobee Minor – CB (transfer — Texas Tech), Jordan Shaw – CB (3-star, Downey, Calif.), Amare Ferrell – S (3-star, Lake City, Fla.)
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