One of the more surprising revelations at B1G Media Days last week was when Kevin Wilson announced that sophomore wide receiver J-Shun Harris had torn his ACL earlier this summer, and would have to miss the entire 2015 season. It's a tough blow for Harris, a rising sophomore from Fishers who caught 18 passes for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns in his freshman season, but will have to use a medical redshirt this season. While these numbers aren't earth-shattering, they were the most for any player returning to the Hoosiers.
Harris's injury raises even more questions about the wide receiving corps for Indiana this season. Going into the year, we have a good idea of what to expect at most positions for the Hoosiers. Nate Sudfeld is in his final year at quarterback, and has the potential to be, outside of the Ohio State tandem and Connor Cook, the best QB in the conference. The offensive line isn't as large as a typical one in the B1G, but it should open some lanes for a solid running back corps led by UAB transfer Jordan Howard. IU's front seven on defense could actually be a strength this year, especially if linebacker Tegray Scales keeps improving. On the other hand, we know the secondary is relatively young and untested and could yet again be an issue, especially after the dismissal of Antonio Allen. Finally, on special teams, the punter and kicker both return and should continue to be consistent.
This leaves the wide receivers as the most mysterious part of the team this season. While the Hoosiers gave up almost twice as many receiving yards as they gained in 2014, they still are losing a ton of production from last year's team. Between Shane Wynn, Tevin Coleman, Nick Stoner, and now Harris, the Hoosiers will not have the four players that accounted for about three-fourths of all of the Indiana's 1,697 receiving yards last season.
So who will replace this production? It might appear from two rising sophomores in Simmie Cobbs and Dominique Booth. The two players combined for only 15 catches last season, but Kevin Wilson and Kevin Johns will need to rely more on them in order to get the offense flowing. Consistency was a major issue for both last season, but with a full offseason under their belt now, they have had time to work out the flaws from last season. Cobbs is particularly intriguing, because at 6-4 and 215 pounds, he could draw comparisons to Cody Latimer in his size.
Another possibility comes from a pair of transfers in Marqui Hawkins and Camion Patrick. We've discussed these two in the past; Hawkins is another UAB transfer by way of Florida who has yet to play a down of college football, and Patrick is a Juco transfer who originally was slated to play for Tennessee. While both players still have an element of mystery surrounding them - and Patrick is still not yet academically eligible - they could provide instant help downfield for the Hoosiers if they live up to their SEC recruitment potential.
In addition to the receivers, the tight end spot is also tough to determine. Jordan Fuchs should now be more well-known to Hoosier fans after he appeared in a few IU basketball games late last season, and he should lead this group after playing in all 12 games in 2014. Senior Anthony Corsaro should be a veteran presence at tight end as well. Indiana hasn't had much catching production out of its tight ends since Ted Bolser left, but with the lack of veteran receivers on the roster, the room to grow definitely exists.
Without Harris, the Hoosiers have one fewer pass-catcher in a relatively inexperienced lineup. The potential for a different player to have a breakout season is there, but right now, it's not easy to predict which receiver will do so. The good news for the Hoosiers is that depth does exist at wideout, and that the receiver will be catching passes from a proven QB in Nate Sudfeld.