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Buckley eager for new role at IU

After playing in the slot for 3 years at Texas A&M, Camron Buckley expects to see more time on the outside this fall at IU

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Mississippi State at Texas A&M
Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Camron Buckley (14) lines up during the college football game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Texas A&M Aggies on October 26, 2019 at Kyle Field in College Station, TX.
Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

He still holds love for Texas A&M, the city of College Station, and the coaches inside the Aggies’ football program. For four years, that was home.

But by the time spring practice ended in late April, Camron Buckley decided he needed a change. He wanted a new opportunity — a new role. At Indiana, that’s what he’ll get.

During his three years on the field for A&M (a knee injury sidelined him in 2020), Buckley saw 84% of his snaps in the slot while operating primarily as an inside receiver. With the Hoosiers this fall, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound grad transfer expects to spend the bulk of his time on the outside. For Buckley, the move to Indiana represents a chance to show his versatility to NFL scouts while competing in an offense that should feature one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks in Michael Penix.

“I love what this team is doing,” Buckley said. “I love what Coach (Tom) Allen is doing, what (receivers coach Grant) Heard is doing with the receiving corps. And we have a great quarterback coming back. So to come in and be a part of this offense means a lot. I’m gonna make the best of it.”

Buckley says he’s “95%” back from the season-ending ACL injury he suffered during fall camp last August, a tear that ended a consecutive games played streak of 39 straight contests to start his career.

When he was healthy, Buckley was a solid contributor for the Aggies. As a sophomore, Buckley hauled in 34 balls for 474 yards with one touchdown, turning in a memorable performance against Clemson when he caught four passes for a career-high 93 yards. His Pro Football Focus receiving grade of 68.2 that fall was the best of his career and would’ve ranked second on IU’s team — just a couple ticks below Whop Philyor’s 70.0 grade.

Buckley was an Under Armour All-American coming out of high school in 2017, a three-star recruit who chose Texas A&M over other offers from Auburn, Houston, Texas, Miami, Iowa and Illinois, among others. Heard, then at Ole Miss, also tried to bring Buckley to Oxford, Miss. during that recruiting cycle.

Although Heard didn’t win the recruiting battle four years ago, he did get his man this spring.

“That’s another reason why I came here because I already knew the coaching staff,” Buckley said. “I was already familiar with them.”

A third reason Buckley chose Bloomington — beyond the role change and a friendly position coach — was the opportunity he sees to get on the field. On the outside, IU returns Big Ten receiver of the year Ty Fryfogle and Miles Marshall, who started all seven games in which he appeared in 2020. The Hoosiers also added experienced depth on the inside, welcoming Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews as a replacement for Philyor in the slot.

But Buckley believes he’ll carve a helpful role for himself in time. Fall camp presents his first opportunity to compete for action, and Buckley is motivated to work into a new role on his new team and make the most of his move to the Midwest.

“It’s gonna be a competition,” Buckley said. “I’ve never been one to shy away from competition. I come from a competition high school, so competition is in me. I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t feel like I would get high reps or have the opportunity to start. That would’ve been a bad business decision. But I’m very educated. (Coming here) was an educated move. Precise.”