Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Indiana fall practice
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The BTN bus tour made its first stop Friday, visiting Indiana practice. New coach Tom Allen inherits a team that has gone to bowls in consecutive seasons. There are some holes to fill, but this roster has enough juice to return to the postseason.
Here are my fun takes from today’s Indiana football practice.
Most impressive player: Linebacker Chris Covington. The guy was a prep QB, was signed as a safety and eventually ended up at linebacker. He is good! IU won’t miss Marcus Oliver, who turned pro. Covington is a stud who will team with Tegray Scales to give the Hoosiers two good LBs.
Top specimen: Tight end Ian Thomas is put together well. The 6-5, 248-pound senior moves well, has good hands and is athletic. He could be primed for a big season.
Loudest coach: Gotta go with Tom Allen. I mean, the guy was using a megaphone for much of practice.
Impressive newcomer: WR Tysir Mack. The 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman looked good in practice. And the staff likes him. With his size and speed, he could be a red zone target.
On the rise: OT Coy Cronk is gonna be a star. He took over starting left OT duties last year as a true freshman. And he’s only gonna get better. Cronk will end up being better than Jason Spriggs and Dan Feeney, recent IU blockers who were drafted.
Nagging question: Will the play in the trenches be up to par?
Under the radar: Marcelino Ball. He plays the “husky” spot, which is a hybrid linebacker/safety. And Ball had a spectacular debut in 2016, earning Freshman All-American honors. He is only going to get better. Ball told me he was barely recruited out of College Park, Georgia.
Number: 23, years since the Hoosiers finished with a winning record, as IU went 7-4 under Bill Mallory in 1994. Interestingly, they didn’t get a bowl bid. This was before the bloated bowl era.
There was a lot of energy at this practice, as Tom Allen is a quick-paced guy. Players sprinted between drills.
One of the new assistants is running back coach Mike Hart, an all-time great at Michigan. He famously called Michigan State “little brother” back in 2007.
This was IU’s third practice of the season. The closest thing to contact was one-on-one pass blocking drills.
Allen is excited to coach is son, Thomas, a linebacker. He says he talked to Kirk Ferentz and Wally Burnham about it. Great opportunity for father-son to bond.
Work is on-going with a $53-million project to enclose the south end zone of Memorial Stadium. The project will include:
- Excellence Academy for athletes.
- Rehabilitation and treatment facility for athletes.
- Academic and life skills support facilities.
- “Multi-use” outdoor terrace on the roof of the structure, with an area for children.
- Entry plaza and green space at the south end of the stadium.
- A 40-by-70-foot video board to be placed in the renovated south end zone area. The north end zone will get a 20-by-60-foot video board.
The project will be finished in late summer 2018.