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1st impressions: Underclassmen defenders who are standing out

IU defensive coordinator Kane Wommack dishes on early impressions of the new guys

Syndication: Indianapolis Bobby Goddin/For IndyStar

In a year where depth will be more important than ever, it’s worth getting to know the new guys. And after 10 practices this fall, we’re starting to get a feel for which freshmen may have an opportunity to contribute this season.

After offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan shared thoughts on his standout freshmen on Wednesday, it was defensive coordinator Kane Wommack’s turn on Friday. Here’s a glance at a few of IU’s youngest defenders who are making an imprint early in camp:

Bryson Bonds, safety: During Fall Camp Version 1.0 in August, IU coach Tom Allen lauded the work ethic of the former three-star recruit from Crowley, Texas. Bonds’ attention to detail continues to impress during the restarted camp. “He’s so locked in,” Wommack said. “He’s a smart guy and you teach him something, the next day he understands it. The third day, he anticipates it. For a freshman to come in and do that, multiple times, over and over again in these first 10 practices, has been very exciting. He’ll certainly have a role on our travel squad. He’ll be playing this season.”

Christopher Keys, corner: If you trust the listed weights on high school and college rosters, Keys has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot, 175-pound frame within the past year. Considered the No. 44 corner in the 2020 recruiting cycle and the No. 18 overall prospect in the state of Mississippi by 247 Sports, Keys chose IU over an offer from Jackson State. “Chris Keys on the outside is doing some really good things,” Wommack said.

Damarjhe Lewis, defensive tackle: A commitment to Auburn. Offers from Florida State, Penn State and Tennessee. Lewis was quite the prospect coming out of Griffin High School in Griffin, Ga., and he’s been one of the most intriguing freshmen on the scene since arriving in Bloomington in January. “(He) has some real twitch to him and some physicality up front,” Wommack said.

Ty Wise, linebacker: Wise comes to IU from Carmel, where he earned top billing from the Indiana Football Coaches Association as the premier linebacker in the state during the 2019 season. “Ty Wise is everything we thought he was going to be, plus a little more athletic,” Wommack said. “That’s really exciting. He really can run. He’s going to develop his body and he’s learning at a higher level than any of these guys were at their age — Micah McFadden, Cam Jones, James Miller. He’s more probably on the level of where Thomas (Allen) was, but Thomas had known this defense since eighth grade. So that’s pretty exciting for us (to see that) from a young guy that will be a future leader of that linebacking corps.”