Jaylin Lucas named Big Ten returner of the year, six others receive league honors

Indiana freshman Jaylin Lucas was a headliner for the Hoosiers as the 2022 season progressed, and that continued into the postseason.   Lucas was named the Big Ten’s returner of the year on Tuesday by the conference.

Four defenders and two more from IU’s special teams units received honorable mention from the league.

Here is the full release from IU on all seven players who were recognized.


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After bursting onto the scene, literally, and the only FBS returner with multiple kickoff return touchdowns, Indiana football true freshman Jaylin Lucas was named the Big Ten’s Rodgers–Dwight Return Specialist of the Year as the conference office announced its defensive and special teams awards on Tuesday.

Lucas is the first freshman (true or redshirt) to win the return specialist of the year award from the conference and Indiana’s first winner of the award. His 591 yards are ranked No. 12 in single-season program history and led the conference, while his 28.1 yards per return rank No. 4 nationally. He is the first IU returner to earn All-B1G honors since the conference added the spot in 2015.

With two return touchdowns, Lucas finished No. 2 on both the IU single season and career charts after one season on campus. He trails Marcus Thigpen (2005-08), who returned all three of his career kickoffs for scores during the 2006 campaign. His two kickoff return touchdowns rank tied for No. 7 among active FBS student-athletes, as well.

Along with his return stats, Lucas is the first Hoosier since Tevin Coleman in 2014 with three 70-yard scoring plays in a single season. Both of his kickoff return scores covered 80-plus yards and he added a 71-yard rushing touchdown in the season finale versus Purdue as part of his first career 100-yard rushing game. On the season, Lucas totaled 944 all-purpose yards, the most in a season since Whop Philyor (1,094) in 2019.

Four defensive student-athletes earned All-B1G honors from either the conference coaches or media panel. Senior+ linebacker Cam Jones and senior cornerback Tiawan Mullen each garnered honorable-mention nods from each set of voters, while redshirt senior linebacker Aaron Casey and true freshman outside linebacker Dasan McCullough were each honorable-mention picks by the media. The special teams duo of redshirt junior place kicker Charles Campbell and sophomore punter James Evans each earned honorable mention from the conference coaches and media, as well.

Ranked among the career leaders in field goals made (No. 8; 39), extra points made (No. 9; 73) and points (No. 13; 190), Campbell finished the 2022 campaign ranked No. 15 in scoring at 69 points and his 14 made field goals were No. 6 in the conference. His 51-yard walk-off field goal against Western Kentucky was the fifth 50-plus yarder of his career to rank No. 2 in program history in that category.

Casey finished the regular season ranked tied for No. 10 in total tackles among Big Ten defenders and his 50 solo stops were tied for No. 6 in the conference. He eclipsed his single-season high for tackles for loss in the first three games of the season and ended the year tied for No. 8 in the Big Ten with 10.5 stops behind the line. The Douglasville, Ga., native also posted his first four career double-digit tackle games, including a career-high 11 at Rutgers.

In his second season playing American football, Evans ended the season among the top punters in the nation with his 44.4 yards per punt average ranked at No. 2 on the Indiana single-season charts behind only Drew Hagan (44.8; 1999). His 30 punts inside the 20-yard line finished No. 3 nationally – and in the Big Ten – and his 24 punts of 50-plus yards tied for the lead in the Big Ten. He also finished No. 2 in the conference in punts inside the 10-yard line, per Pro Football Focus.

The heart of the Indiana defense, Jones led the Big Ten in tackles through five weeks with 55, which included his first four career double-digit tackle games. He piled up seven tackles in each of his five games before suffering a season-ending injury at Nebraska. Just the third three-time captain in program history, Jones had 12 stops in a season-opening win over Illinois and later added three-straight double-digit tackle contests before his injury.

With the 20th most snaps played among true freshmen defenders in the FBS, McCullough tied for No. 1 among true freshmen in the FBS in tackles for loss or no gain (9) per Pro Football Focus. He finished among the top-6 true freshmen defenders in sacks (No. 5; 4.0), defensive stops (No. 6; 26), and total pressures (22; No. 6). His 49 tackles were No. 7 on the team and tops among non-linebackers/defensive backs.

Mullen earned his second career nod to the All-Big Ten team after a career-high 58 tackles in 2022. He came away with a pair of interceptions to push his career total to five and added eight pass breakups to move that career mark to 28. He added one forced fumble on the season to give him 11 takeaways in his career to lead all IU defenders and posted at least four tackles in 10 of 12 starts this season.

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