Indiana players donned shoulder pads and helmets for the first time this fall on Wednesday, reaching the latest checkpoint in their march to next month’s season opener. For IU’s coaching staff, it was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the program’s youngest players and how they might fit into the plans over the next few months.
With that in mind, here’s a glance at a few underclassmen on the offensive side of the ball who have stood out through the first few days of practice:
Tim Baldwin, running back: This former Michigan commit enrolled at IU in January and was one of the head-turners during Fall Camp Version 1.0 in August. Coming out of Nokesville, Va., Baldwin was considered a three-star recruit and the No. 45 running back prospect in the nation. “Tim Baldwin has definitely taken a step in the right direction,” offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said. “Obviously, it’s a deep and competitive room, but certainly from the time that he’s gotten here to where he is now, he’s definitely made strides.”
Javon Swinton, receiver: A former three-star recruit out of Stafford, Va., Swinton was recruited to Indiana as an athlete. He played both receiver and corner in high school, but is still working to develop polish at the former. But according to IU coach Tom Allen, the 6-foot-1 Swinton has natural ball skills and the agility to get in and out of his breaks on the outside. “For a true freshman,” Sheridan said, “I think Javon has done a nice job.”
Several offensive linemen: Allen has been honest about the O-line this fall: he’s concerned. The Hoosiers don’t have experienced depth up front, and with the potential to lose players for weeks at a time due to the virus, Allen has good reason to worry. At the same time, there seems to be guarded optimism that several of IU’s young big men will develop into trusted pieces for the future. Sheridan says he’s liked what he’s seen so far from Randy Holtz, Luke Wiginton and Kahlil Benson, among others.
Dexter Williams, quarterback: The position belongs to Michael Penix at the moment, but Sheridan — who doubles as IU’s quarterback coach — says he feels good about the future. Williams, a former three-star prospect out of Georgia and the No. 34 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 recruiting cycle, has made a good first impression. “At my position, Dexter Williams is showing the ability to be a great player,” Sheridan said. “(He) has a great heart and great mind a willingness to work.”