Indiana football was aggressive in the transfer portal this offseason, and the result is a roster with new faces in nearly every position room.
The Hoosiers brought in 20 new players this offseason between both transfer portal windows. IU’s transfer class ranks No. 15 in the country and first in the Big Ten on 247Sports.
Quarterback Tayven Jackson may be the headliner, and he’ll have a chance to earn the starting role during fall camp.
But the area that will see the most impact is, perhaps, defensive line. Western Michigan transfer Andre Carter is expected to step in as the best player in that group after earning second-team All-MAC honors last year. Including Carter, IU added nine players on the defensive line (counting the Bull spot).
“Probably the biggest area that sticks out to me is defensive line. A definite focus for us. It felt like that was a huge need to address, and so really excited about that group of guys,” IU head coach Tom Allen said at IU’s event at Huber’s Winery in late May. “Just really had a chance to add some guys that give us more mass. Just needed to be able to shore that up.”
But IU added potential difference-makers all across the field, not just on the defensive line. Wide receivers DeQuece Carter and E.J. Williams could be immediate factors in the offense, as could running back Christian Turner. The Hoosiers added a veteran tight end to a young room, and bolstered their offensive line. And defensively, all three levels will be impacted by transfer additions.
Whether it was true holes or just lacking depth, Allen and his staff saw needs in a lot of areas this offseason and did what they had to do to address them.
“All positions were affected,” Allen said. “There’s not a position outside of specialists that we didn’t address, and so it was kind of a broad use of (the transfer portal). So I’m excited. I like the guys. I think the majority of them have already been with us for a whole spring. These next two months are going to be big.”
Defensive battles incoming
IU saw a lot of roster turnover on defense after last season, whether due to graduation or outbound transfers.
The Hoosiers have just two returning starters on defense, linebacker Aaron Casey and husky Noah Pierre. That means nine starting defensive slots are open.
That’s a stark difference from the last few years for IU. But Allen sees good that can come from it.
“I like it. I think it can be challenging, in some ways, but refreshing in others,” Allen said. “When you talk about a depth chart being set in stone, it’s not that way at all. I like that, because now you’ve got a whole bunch of guys that there’s an urgency that’s created by more guys because there are spots up for competition. I can honestly say that’s pretty much across the board. That excites me, as a coach.”
Carter is, essentially, a shoo-in at defensive end. He had a huge spring and established himself as a leader very quickly. But the other spots on the defensive line will be contested among the various transfers and returnees.
Stanford transfer Jacob Mangum-Farrar is seemingly the favorite to line up next to Casey at linebacker, but others could be in the mix there as well.
And aside from Pierre, everything in the secondary should be up for grabs. IU has returnees that could factor in, especially at safety, with guys like Louis Moore, Josh Sanguinetti, Phillip Dunnam, and Bryson Bonds. The cornerback jobs are more likely to go to transfers. But fall camp will determine a lot of that.
Allen said that amount of competition for starting spots and playing time will benefit the team throughout summer workouts and preseason. He said the players know they have to put the work in to get their chance.
“We’ve got a really hungry football team,” Allen said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are trying to prove themselves. That’s a very infectious mindset and attitude that you get. It creates a lot of intensity during the workouts and during all of the things that we’re doing this summer. And honestly, I think it’s a big reason why we had such a great buy-in because everybody (knows), if they don’t do the little things right, they’re not going to get that opportunity.”
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