There are early signs in Bloomington that quarterback will continue to be a position of strength for many years to come.
True freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley was one of six first-year players who head coach Tom Allen recognized this week as fall camp standouts. The fifth year leader of the IU program named three players on each side of the ball.
“There were six freshmen that stuck out to me, and I had these guys stand up yesterday in our team meeting: Maurice Freeman, Jordan Grier, and Matt Hohlt on defense and Donaven McCulley, David Holloman, and Malachi Holt-Bennett on offense,” Allen said.
An Indianapolis native, McCulley was a 4-star recruit from Lawrence North High School. He was rated higher by the recruiting services than current quarterback Michael Penix, Jr.
Allen explained why McCulley and the other five freshmen caught his eye.
“Not that other guys didn’t, but when you take the whole body of work, I felt like those guys – and this wasn’t something we did as a staff – it was something that I thought ‘you know what, we always challenge our players that if you want to have an opportunity to play, you get your coaches attention and make plays when it is live, because live football to me is live tackling, live blocking, everything is live, and you are just going to play to the whistle and that is when you really see who is out there making plays,’ and those six guys stuck out to me throughout the course of fall camp,” Allen said. “Other guys flashed at times, but those guys were most consistent, so I want to recognize those guys.”
Here is more background on the six freshmen.
Maurice Freeman is from Virginia. He was a defensive back in high school, but the 6-foot and 200 pound Freeman is currently listed on the roster as a safety. His Oscar Smith High School won the state championship in the spring of 2021. Freeman was an all-region selection as a junior when he carded 55 tackles, five sacks, 14 for loss, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one interception, and four pass breakups.
Jordan Grier is a safety from Georgia. The 6-foot and 193 pounder was all-state and all-region honoree. He led Cedar Grove High School to three state championships. Grier recorded four pick-6s and made 56 tackles as a junior.
Matt Hohlt is a walk-on linebacker from Indiana. The 6-foot-2 and 220 pounder was a star defender on Center Grove High School’s perfect 14-0 2020 state championship team.
Donaven McCulley is a quarterback from Indiana. Standing at 6-foot-5, he closed his career with 6,211 passing yards, 1,274 rushing yards, 47 touchdowns, and a 128.1 quarterback rating. McCulley was rated the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 100 prospect nationally by Rivals.
David Holloman is a running back from Michigan. Known for his speed, the 6-foot and 215 pound Holloman ran 4.29 40-yard dash in the World Bowl Hall of Fame National Combine in Orlando. As a junior, he rushed for 1,236 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Malachi Holt-Bennett is wide receiver from Alabama. The 6-foot-3 and 180 pound Holt-Bennett was a 4-star recruit according to 247Sports. A February commit, he was the last player added to the class.
Overall, IU’s 2021 class features five four-star prospects: Holt-Bennett (247Sports), McCulley (Rivals, 247Sports), wide receiver Jaquez Smith (ESPN, 247Sports), defensive back Larry Smith III (Rivals) and wide receiver Jordyn Williams (ESPN).
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