Athlon Sports released its preseason football All-Conference selections on Monday afternoon, naming six Hoosiers to various levels of conference honors.
On the defensive side of the ball, Indiana is led by Tiawan Mullen, who earned the cornerback spot in Athlon’s second-team All Big Ten projections. Fifth year safety Devon Matthews was named to the third team, while linebacker Cam Jones received fourth team honors.
Offensive lineman Matthew Bedford was the only offensive player named for Indiana, making the fourth all-conference offensive team. D.J. Matthews, Indiana’s kick returner and top receiver, was named fourth team all specialist, alongside kicker Charles Campbell.
Indiana’s six players named marks a steep downturn from last season, when Athlon had 10 Hoosiers in their all-conference rankings, including Michael Penix as the first team All-Big Ten quarterback. Last year’s 10 players were good for second in the conference, while there are now ten teams with more all conference players than the Hoosiers going into 2022.
Some of the drop off was surely due to injury, as Tiawan Mullen went from a first team all conference pick to third conference after a season of battling injuries in 2021. If he’s able to remain healthy all season, Mullen certainly has the potential to outplay that third team projection and establish himself as one of the league’s best defenders again.
On the other hand, Indiana fans should maybe take note of the lack of confidence the national reporters have in the Hoosiers’ hopes for an offensive revival for this season. Matthews looked like an elite receiver at points last season, but at this point, it’s not clear who will be tasked with getting the ball to him and what kind of protection the line will be able to provide.
Athlon’s rankings as a whole, unsurprisingly, were dominated by the Big Ten East. The top three teams in terms of players honored were all from the Eastern division of the conference, with Michigan and Ohio State leading the way, followed closely by Michigan State.
Of course, last year’s rankings ended up being a poor predictor of Indiana’s success. Indiana may have a roster full of undiscovered gems, or Walt Bell may be the coordinator of the year.
He may not be that great, but that’s the beauty of the preseason.