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Baldwin shows he’ll be ready when needed

Freshman running back debuted during Saturday’s win at Michigan State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 Indiana at Michigan State
IU running back Tim Baldwin cuts upfield during Saturday’s game at Michigan State.
Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When Michael Penix Jr. hands off the ball, it’s likely going one of two places — to Stevie Scott or to Sampson James.

But should Indiana need to dip a bit deeper into its depth chart in the weeks to come, the Hoosiers feel they have a strong third option, too.

That would be Tim Baldwin, a 6-foot, 217-pound true freshman who made his college debut during Saturday’s win at Michigan State. Baldwin received three carries against the Spartans, totaling 18 yards and showing some shiftiness in the process. He may only see the field in short bursts the rest of the way this fall, but Indiana feels like it has a runner who can grow into a major contributor in the years to come.

“Once he gets his time to shine, he is going to be great,” Scott said. “He is young, but he is learning. He has great mentors ahead of him to show him the ropes and the courses on how to be a college player. Tim comes to practice everyday and is a hard worker. He has a willingness to learn anything that will help his game improve. Just give it one or two years and you will see Tim bursting onto the scene.”

Behind the scenes, Baldwin has been surfacing for a few weeks now. The former Michigan commit was one of the standouts when Fall Camp Version 1.0 began in August, and he didn’t seem to miss a step once camp resumed in September.

IU coach Tom Allen says Baldwin has been so consistent — so good — in practice that the offensive staff wanted to reward him with a few carries on Saturday. He picked up positive yardage on each touch, including one 10-yard run in the second quarter.

“He is a guy that has earned that by the way he has prepared,” Allen said. “That, to me, is a big deal. We want to really do a good job as a staff of rewarding guys for that and hold them accountable for their practice habits. When they are doing it the right way and doing it at a high level, then we would love to give them a chance to go out and see what they got on game day. Tim is a guy that we need. You never can have enough depth at any position. You never know what the future is going to hold. And so I was glad he was able to go out there and he did exactly what I expected him to do, which was execute at a high level.”