The receiving corps may be IU's biggest strength. IU's top three returning receivers accounted for nearly 75 percent of IU's receiving yards and those guys (Tandon Doss, Damarlo Belcher, Terrance Turner), along with redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson, are are on of the main reasons why IU is expected to score lots of points. Of IU's top 6 WR/TE from last season, the only two who won't be catching passes this season are "gone" not because of graduation or attrition, but because they have been moved to defense. Last year, Bill Lynch took a ton of heat in the offseason for moving Ray Fisher, IU's leading returning receiver, to defense. While not Bill Lynch's biggest supporter, I defended him adamantly during the run-up to the 2009 season, because of the talent at hand. The offense didn't miss a beat, although it's not clear if the Fisher move made the defense any better. Still, the biggest red flag, in looking at the numbers below, is that while IU moved the ball well between the 20s, the Hoosiers struggled to score touchdowns. In any event:
Tandon Doss, 6-3 Jr. WR: Doss, after a decent freshman season, exploded in 2009 for 77 catches, 962 yards, 12.6 yards per catch, and five touchdowns. He was a first team all-Big Ten selection and finished second in the conference in receiving yards. His low touchdown numbers are indicative of IU's red zone struggles, and that will have to improve.
Damarlo Belcher: 6-5 Jr. WR: Because of his height and his hometown (Fort Wayne), the comparisons between Belcher and James Hardy are inevitable. Belcher isn't quite the freak of nature that Hardy was, but after a solid freshman year he played really well in 2009. Belcher was second on the team with 770 yards, led the team with 12.6 yards per catch, and tied Doss with 5 touchdowns.
Terrance Turner, 6-3 Sr. WR: Turner, the only senior among IU's top three WRs, has steadily improved, and gained 443 yards last season and scored 1 touchdown (it would have been two if Big Ten replay officials weren't hopelessly incompetent and/or corrupt).
Max Dedmond, 6-5 Jr. TE: Dedmond, while a full size tight end, has been split out a bit, and was a reasonably productive receiver in 2009, gaining 141 yards on 18 catches and scoring a touchdown. He caught four passes in IU's loss at Michigan.
Brad Martin, 6-4 Sr. TE: Martin has caught only one pass (a 6-yarder against Michigan State in 2008) while spending most of his career as a special-teamer.
Mitchell Evans, WR. As noted above, Evans isn't really gone. Evans, perhaps best remembered for taking snaps as IU's "Wildcat" quarterback, was the Hoosiers' fourth-leading receiver in 2009 with 366 yards and 3 touchdowns. It speaks to the depth of talent at WR and the lack of it at DB that Evans will be playing safety this year.
Matt Ernest, WR. Ernest caught only 7 passes in 2009, yet he was penciled in as a starting cornerback after spring practice. Given the depth at WR, defense probably is his best opportunity to contribute.
Troy Wagner, TE. Wagner caught 6 passes for 76 yards in 2009.
Duwyce Wilson, 6-3 Fr. WR: Wilson was Indiana's 2008 Mr. Football (and a state champion in the long jump), and many expected him to see the field in 2009 as a true freshman. He was one of the most highly-regarded members of the IU 2009 recruiting class, and should add another element to IU's passing game. Wilson's high school quarterback was Dusty Kiel, who apparently will be IU's second-string QB.
Jamone Chester, 6-1 Fr. WR: Trick play alert: Chester spent most of his senior year of high school playing quarterback.
The 2010 recruiting class includes Kofi Hughes, Tim O'Conner, and Logan Young. None seems terribly likely to play as a true freshman.
Well, the fun part of this preview is over. Tonight or tomorrow, we begin talking about defense.