When it comes to Indiana football’s special teams, things will mostly remain the same, with one big question still looming.
Let’s start with the constants. Jaylin Lucas was named an All-American for his kick returning prowess, and he’ll be back in that role this season. He took two kickoffs all the way back for touchdowns last season, and ranked fourth in the nation with 28.14 yards per return. His 53.7 kick return yards per game ranked sixth in the country.
Lucas has also been working on punt returns this spring, so he may be the one to step into D.J. Matthews’ departed role.
Punter James Evans returns after a solid sophomore season. The Hoosiers called his number frequently — a byproduct of their offensive struggles — as Evans tied for fifth in the nation with 75 punts last year, and his 6.3 punts per game tied for fourth in the country. But he was effective with that high usage, ranking 20th in the country and fifth in the Big Ten with 44.33 yards per punt. Evans had very few miscues, and came through in big ways in field position battles.
IU’s long snapper, Sean Wracher, is back for his COVID year.
So the big question mark is at kicker. Charles Campbell transferred to Tennessee for his final year of eligibility, leaving the Hoosiers with an opening.
Redshirt sophomore Chris Freeman is the returning option. The Zionsville native served as IU’s kickoff specialist last year, but has very limited placekicking game experience at IU, with just two successful extra points in 2021.
But he’ll be battling with incoming freshman Nicolas Radicic in fall camp. Radicic is not with the team for spring ball, but the five-star will have a shot to win the kicking job nonetheless.
IU head coach Tom Allen called Freeman a talented player, and said they’re able to get a good look at his response to some manufactured pressure situations during scrimmages this spring. But he said it will be an open competition in fall camp between Freeman and Radicic.
“Chris obviously has an advantage because he’s been here. He’s here right now and has a chance to be put in those game situations in practice. These next two scrimmages are going to be big for that. So we’re trying to create stress on him to see how he responds to it. But Nico comes in with a lot of talent,” Allen said. “It’s like everything else, we want competition at every spot. We have it there, for sure.”
Leaving: K Charles Campbell (transfer — Tennessee), RS D.J. Matthews Jr. (out of eligibility), LS Jake Wellmann
Key Returning: P James Evans (junior), P Alejandro Quintero (redshirt sophomore), RS Jaylin Lucas (sophomore), LS Sean Wracher (fifth-year senior), LS Kurtis Robinson (redshirt sophomore), K Chris Freeman (redshirt sophomore)
Incoming: K Nicolas Radicic (5-star, Coppell, Texas)
- Wide receivers
- Running backs
- Tight ends
- Offensive line
- Defensive line
- Defensive backs
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