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Indiana football: Assessing the quarterback room

The Hoosiers have a wealth at the position in 2024.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 09 Ohio at Florida Atlantic Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the main qualifiers Scott Dolson sought out during his search for Indiana’s next head coach was experience working with quarterbacks. In stepped Curt Cignetti, whose JMU signal callers earned multiple Conference Player of the Year awards during his tenure.

He brought Tino Sunseri, a rising star in the coaching world, with him to Bloomington. Sunseri played the position himself at Pitt and has drawn wide praise for his work in Harrisonburg.

That experience seems to be paying dividends already: the room will look almost completely different next year following the departure of Brendan Sorsby and multiple additions.

Let’s run through the position as it currently stands:

On the roster

  • Kurtis Rourke comes to Bloomington after spending five (yes, that many) seasons in Athens with Ohio. He was the Bobcats starter from 2020-23, with injuries limiting some of his playing time. When healthy he played like one of the best quarterbacks in the country, tossing 25 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions in 2022. Rourke tore his ACL late in the 2022 season and played through some injury this past season. Thanks to his experience and previously showcased potential, the Canadian product would be the betting favorite to be the Hoosiers’ week one starter in 2024.
  • Tayven Jackson earned Indiana’s starting job last season after leading the Hoosiers against Indiana State but saw no attempts after the loss to Michigan. He remained on the roster following the firing of Tom Allen and will be coached by his third different staff in as many years. He flashed some potential, notably against Louisville, and will have another opportunity with Cignetti’s staff.
  • Broc Lowry saw no playing time as a true freshman this past season but, like Jackson, didn’t enter the portal after Allen’s firing. He’ll have an opportunity to learn under Sunseri and Cignetti.

The Freshmen

  • Alberto Mendoza is a three-star prospect who was previously committed to JMU. When Cignetti was hired at Indiana, Sunseri reached out to Mendoza to keep him in the loop and inform him that he’d like to re-offer wherever he ultimately ended up. Mendoza visited Indiana and committed the next week. Sunseri believes Mendoza has what it takes to compete at any level and that relationship is a large part of why he flipped to the Hoosiers. He’s not to be overlooked in this room, given the staff’s repeated praise of his ability.
  • Tyler Cherry is a four-star out of Center Grove High School, same as Tayven Jackson, who chose the Hoosiers after decommiting from Duke following Mike Elko’s hiring at Texas A&M. Cherry was among the best players in the state and the highest-rated quarterback, choosing Indiana in a short timeline after a visit to Bloomington to meet with the new coaching staff.

Overall Outlook

There’s probably going to be some sort of battle at the position with that much talent in the room. As of now, I’d say it’s Rourke’s job to lose but anything can happen in college football. Brendan Sorsby wasn’t really on anyone’s radar in 2022, but look how he ended up. Cignetti’s recent JMU teams have relied on getting transfer talent and playing to their strengths, which lines up with the Rourke addition. Cignetti has previously announced his starter, unlike Allen, but we’re just going to have to wait and see how he handles that.