With “no plans” to add veteran quarterback, IU football is leaning on youth

Indiana football appears likely to roll with youth at quarterback in 2023.

Speaking to local media Sunday, head coach Tom Allen said he’s not planning to add another quarterback from the transfer portal before the Hoosiers hold spring football.

Indiana has rising junior Dexter Williams recovering from his dislocated knee injury in the season finale. Rising sophomore Brendan Sorsby returns, and the Hoosiers add true freshman Broc Lowry and redshirt freshman Tayven Jackson from the transfer portal.

“(We) have had discussions about that (adding a veteran quarterback), but that’s one of those things that is a little challenging to do. Sounds great, being able to bring an older guy in to do all of that, but not sure how that’s going to play itself out. Don’t have plans to do that right now,” Allen said. “We’re going to go through spring football right now and then reevaluate at that point. But we will not be adding anybody else to our team before spring football at any position.”

Williams flashed some potential as a runner in four games last season, with two starts. He rushed for 165 yards on 40 attempts with one touchdown, and showed dynamic playmaking ability the Hoosiers sorely needed at quarterback. He had plenty of room for growth as a passer, though, completing just 34 percent of his pass attempts for 184 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The freshman suffered a non-contact leg injury during the first quarter of Indiana’s loss to Purdue in late November and underwent surgery in the following weeks.

Allen said Williams is making progress in his rehab and doing everything he needs to do, but his timeline for a return is still unclear. He’ll miss spring ball, but his status for the fall is up in the air.

“He and I have already met, and he’s like, ‘Coach, whatever I can do, I’m going to help this team win, whether that’s on the field, off the field, whatever.’ He’s aware that he doesn’t even know exactly what that might look like, either. But he’s prepared for it to be an off-the-field role as he gets his body ready for whatever the future holds,” Allen said. “When his body is ready, then he’ll get a chance to get back out there.”

Photo credit – IU Athletics

With Williams unavailable for spring, it leaves Indiana’s quarterbacks with a combined 10 pass attempts at the college level. Sorsby entered during IU’s blowout loss to Penn State, and he struggled in the difficult position. He went 3 for 6 for eight yards with an interception, along with -8 rushing yards because of sacks, before Williams relieved him.

Jackson, who committed to IU from the transfer portal out of Tennessee in mid-January, entered three games for the Volunteers last season, at the end of lopsided victories. He totaled 37 pass yards on a 3-for-4 clip, along with four rushes for 10 yards and a touchdown.

The Center Grove alum is the younger brother of IU basketball star Trayce Jackson-Davis. The Hoosiers recruited him out of high school, and developed a strong relationship with him. Jackson ultimately chose Tennessee for his freshman year, but that existing connection led to his rapid transfer. Allen said Jackson reached out to IU very shortly after entering the portal.

The Hoosiers were drawn to Jackson’s athletic profile and his leadership ability.

“What we liked about him was his athleticism. He’s a long athlete, multi-sport guy — basketball, track, all three of those — and just felt like that he could create with his legs, with his arm,” Allen said. “Have a lot of close ties to their (Tennessee’s) staff and know them well, which allows us to know him even better, the behind the scenes leadership piece that he brought, and the confidence and the swagger that he brings to a room when he walks in there. Those are things you’re looking for in a quarterback.”

Lowry comes to Bloomington this spring from Canfield, Ohio, where he led his high school to a state title in 2022.

Allen saw a player who contributed in a lot of different ways to help his team win, both at quarterback and playing safety. He liked the toughness Lowry played with on defense and the intensity he’d hit with.

There’s obvious development that new freshmen have to go through upon arriving at college, but Allen thinks that, in Lowry, his program added a really good piece for the future.

“Just a tough, hard-nosed competitor. That’s how I would best describe Broc,” Allen said in December. “He is just a winner and plays the game with a chip on his shoulder. Runs the football. Throws the football. So excited about bringing Broc to our program.”

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