Jaylin Lucas is only 5-foot-9, and 170 pounds.
And he doesn’t turn 19 until September.
But the young man is carrying most of the weight of whatever optimism IU fans have going into the 2023 season on his shoulders.
To say the least — Lucas has received a lot of preseason recognition this summer. He’s on the watch lists for each of the Doak Walker, Walter Camp and Paul Hornung Awards.
But his latest preseason accolades might be the most impressive.
Lucas was named a preseason first team All-American kick returner by both CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated.
Expectations are very high for Lucas after he burst onto the scene in 2022.
A first-team All-America selection by multiple outlets as a true freshman, Lucas was the first Hoosier in program history and first freshman in Big Ten history to earn the conference’s Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year. The running back/return specialist was the only player in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with multiple kickoff returns for a touchdown in 2022.
Lucas led the Big Ten in combined kick return yardage (591) and kickoff return yards per game (28.1 ypg) and was among the top 16 in the conference in all-purpose yards per game (85.8 ypg). His game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown at Rutgers was the first kickoff return score at IU since Tevin Coleman in 2012 (at Northwestern). His two kickoff returns each went 90-plus yards and he added a 71-yard touchdown run for three scores of 70-plus yards. He was the first Hoosier since Coleman in 2014 with three 70-yard scoring plays in a single season.
Lucas began to emerge as a running back late in his freshman season.
He rushed for 141 of his 271 yards over his last three games (at Ohio State, at Michigan State, vs. Purdue). His best game from scrimmage came against the Boilermakers with 110 yards rushing on nine carries to go along with five receptions.
Indiana opens the 2023 season on Sept. 2 vs. Ohio State in Bloomington.
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