What to watch for at Indiana’s Spring Football Fan Event

Indiana football wraps up its spring camp on Saturday with its Spring Football Fan Event at Memorial Stadium.

This is not a traditional spring game, as the Hoosiers have done in the past. It’s more of a light scrimmage — essentially what practices typically look like.

The festivities begin at 11 a.m., when practice begins, the kids area opens, and the tailgate party starts. That lasts through 12:30, when practice will end, and head coach Tom Allen will address the team and the crowd. After that, at approximately 12:40, fans will be able to interact with IU coaches and players on the field.

Here are a few players and position groups to watch for on Saturday.

The quarterbacks

The uncertainty at Indiana’s quarterback spot has been one of the biggest storylines of the spring.

IU has had just three scholarship arms throwing passes during camp, with very little on-field experience between them. Redshirt freshmen Brendan Sorsby and Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson have been competing for the starting job, with neither clearly pulling away from the other. IU head coach Tom Allen and offensive coordinator Walt Bell have both been impressed with the two.

True freshman Broc Lowry has also made progress this spring, but isn’t vying for a job the way Jackson and Sorsby are. Redshirt junior Dexter Williams II is still recovering from his leg injury, with an unknown timetable for a return, but he should still be there on Saturday with a headset.

Jackson and Sorsby have both had good moments this spring, mixed with stretches they’d like to have back. Expect more of the same on Saturday.

Their performances at this event, with a crowd watching, could give more insight to where they stand in this competition.

Chris Freeman and the kicking battle

Indiana’s kicking battle will not be settled until fall camp.

True freshman Nicolas Radicic isn’t joining the squad until then, so it’s only redshirt sophomore Chris Freeman doing placekicking this spring. Allen said earlier in camp that he’s liked what he’s seen from Freeman, but knows he has a talented freshman on the way.

It seems highly unlikely that Freeman could either win or lose the job entirely before fall camp. But Saturday’s event could be a chance for him to make a case, or strengthen it.

Part of this decision hinges not only on accuracy, but on handling pressure. Some late-game field goal or extra point attempts can be the most stressful situations of the entire game, and the kicker has to be able to handle those moments and stay focused.

Allen said they’ve done things to manufacture that sort of pressure during camp, and during the team’s earlier scrimmages. But doing it with fans watching, now, could create added pressure. If Freeman is thrown off by anything on Saturday, it could hurt his case heading into fall camp.

Dynamic players at skill positions

There are plenty of Hoosiers who fit that description, but I’ll highlight two here.

One is a well-known commodity, and the other has spent this spring emerging from under the radar.

The former is running back Jaylin Lucas. It’s clear both through the words from coaches and teammates and through his play on the field the sophomore should be a focal point of Indiana’s offense in the fall. Lucas was named an All-American for his kick returning prowess, and he appears to be adding punt returning to his plate this year.

He’s arguably IU’s best skill position player, not just running back. The Hoosiers know they need him on the field, and may line him up at slot receiver at times with redshirt seniors Josh Henderson or Wake Forest transfer Christian Turner in the backfield. IU has given Lucas reps out there this spring.

The aforementioned less heralded player is redshirt freshman wide receiver Kamryn Perry. He’s built similarly as Lucas — both are listed at 5-foot-9 and around 160 pounds.

Cam Camper, if and when he’s healthy, would lead IU’s receiving corps. Donaven McCulley has shown real strides at wideout this spring. And other receivers have looked good, as well.

But Perry has been the talk of camp, one of the players — at least offensively — people have been most impressed with this spring. He’d be a slot receiver, and is quick enough to cause problems there. IU could run some creative packages with both Perry and Lucas on the field together.

His usage and role won’t really come into focus until this fall. But he is definitely a player to keep an eye on this Saturday.

A key portal add in the front seven

Indiana’s pass rush was left in a tough spot when Dasan McCullough transferred.

The Hoosiers saw some veterans exhaust their eligibility in the offseason, and McCullough’s departure left them without a ton of returning options. So they added some players through the transfer portal, and one of those players has seemingly emerged as a top option.

That’s redshirt senior Andre Carter, who transferred from Western Michigan.

Carter had a big year for the Broncos in 2022, leading the team with 13.5 tackles for loss, to go with seven sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception, and one safety. He earned second-team All-MAC honors.

And with a relatively young group of returning pass rushers, Carter has not only shown strong play this season, but he’s stepped into a leadership role already. He’s big and agile, and just makes plays.

There could be plenty of contributors in the pass rush for IU this year, but Carter looks like a player that will be in the middle of a lot of that action.