The Replacements: Top 5 Indiana players to replace
Tom Allen’s maiden voyage in Bloomington was a mixed bag, as Indiana went 5-7 overall and 2-7 in Big Ten action. The Hoosiers entered the finale with a chance to go bowling with a win, but IU lost at Purdue to end a modest two-year bowl run.
The Indiana defense played pretty well most of the season. But the offense was a bit too inconsistent, especially a rushing attack that finished 12th in the Big Ten (130.1 ypg). IU’s 11 rushing TDs were the fewest in the Big Ten. And it was a setback when developing redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey was lost for the season to injury in late October after a loss at Maryland; he had taken over the job from Richard Lagow with Indiana off to a 2-2 start. Turnovers also were a big issue, as the Hoosiers finished tied for last in the conference in turnover margin at minus-seven.
Indiana loses players like DE Greg Gooch, QB Richard Lagow, DT Nate Hoff, DE Robert McCrary III, K Griffin Oakes, WR Taysir Mack (transfer to Pitt) and S Chase Dutra. But here is a look at the top five players Indiana must replace.
WR Simmie Cobbs. It was a blow—but not a shock—to see this big, productive target turn pro. He was second in the Big Ten in catches with 72 that went for 841 yards and eight TDs. Cobbs leaves campus with 139 career receptions (eighth in IU history) for 1,990 yards (ninth) and 12 TDs, to go along with seven 100-yard receiving games.
LB Chris Covington. One of the most underrated linebackers in the Big Ten, Covington ranked third on the team with 85 tackles to go along with 12 TFLs and three sacks in 2017. He was consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten. Covington started 13 times at linebacker and played in 38 overall games at linebacker (33) and quarterback (5). He made 118 tackles, five sacks and 15 tackles for loss in what was a sneaky-good career.
CB Rashad Fant. He paced the Hoosiers with 10 passes broken up while also making 24 tackles with a pick as the Hoosiers’ “shutdown” corner. Fant is the school’s all-time leader with 58 passes defended and 53 pass break ups. He also ran back 53 punts and 11 kickoffs. He was second-team All-Big Ten by the media and third-team by the coaches in 2017.
LB Tegray Scales. He leaves as one of the best linebackers in recent Indiana history. Scales became the first Indiana linebacker to earn All-America honors (2016) since 1987 and the first to collect first team All-Big Ten recognition (2017) since 1988. He finished third on IU’s charts with 46 career tackles for loss, sixth with 18 sacks and 10th with 325 stops. In 2017, Scales finished second on the team with 89 tackles. He also led the team with six sacks and 12.5 TFLs.
TE Ian Thomas. He often got overshadowed in a league that also had star tight ends in Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, Wisconsin Troy Fumagalli and Iowa’s Noah Fant. But make no mistake about it: Thomas was a stud and is a future pro. He made 25 catches for 376 yards and five TDs in 2017. He was consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten.