clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Indiana football: Five observations from Big Ten Media Days

Our thoughts on the Hoosiers following Big Ten Media Days.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 27 Big Ten Conference Media Days Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With Big Ten Media Days now concluded, we know a bit more about Indiana football than we did a few days ago.

The reality is that you’re not going to get too much information from these kinds of things. No coach or player (well, most) is going to be fully honest with a question. Tom Allen is pretty good about answering one way or another though.

There’s plenty of new faces on the team and even more issues for Allen to sort out ahead of, during and after the season. Let’s talk ball.

Aaron Casey is ready to take over at linebacker

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Through the past two rough seasons, Indiana has had some strength at linebacker. The Hoosiers look to that spot for leadership on and off the field, and they tend to produce in Allen’s defense.

Now Aaron Casey will look to add his name to those of Cam Jones, Micah McFadden and Tegray Scales. He’ll be wearing No. 44, George Taliaferro’s number, as a newer tradition in the program to honor the legend.

He made great progress as a starter last season, helping hand the Hoosiers a win with a fourth down tackle for loss against Illinois in week one. Now he’ll be fully tasked with leading that side of the ball alongside Noah Pierre in the backfield and new addition Andre Carter on the defensive line.

There’s plenty of new players added through the portal and high school ranks in the defense, so Casey will be absolutely critical.

Jaylin Lucas, and his confidence, are as valuable as ever

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

There’s few, if any, players across all of college football with more self-confidence than Jaylin Lucas.

He backs it up as a versatile, valuable piece on offense whose speed and mere presence is enough to sway defensive decisions. So valuable that he was receiving offers from other programs during the offseason.

He’s a bit small at 5-9, 185 lbs, and the staff has said multiple times, including Allen at Media Days, that they’ll be mindful about using him throughout the season.

After two lost seasons, Indiana could use some confidence. We’ll have to wait to see if his kick return touchdowns prediction comes true.

Nobody is more ready for this opportunity than Noah Pierre

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Noah Pierre enters his sixth year in Bloomington in 2023, having redshirted as a freshman back in 2018.

He’s obviously seen a lot throughout his time with the program, working his way from the special teams unit to a starting spot at safety with some strong performances in the final few games of 2022.

Now, with plenty of new faces in the secondary, he’ll provide a steady veteran presence on the field and in Indiana’s locker room. Allen expressed an immense amount of pride in Pierre’s progress through the years, having seen “something special” in him out of high school where his sole Power Five offer came from the Hoosiers.

Another quarterback decision

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Much like last year’s camp battle between Connor Bazelak and Jack Tuttle, Tom Allen won’t be naming a starter publicly prior to kickoff against Ohio State on Sept. 2nd.

It’s for the same reasons: maintaining some form of advantage and not letting Ohio State have any information they don’t need to know. Does it matter all that much? Probably not, but it’s just kind of Allen’s style at this point.

In-state recruiting will be as competitive as ever

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

With Jeff Brohm back home in Louisville, there’s a new head coach in West Lafayette: former Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters.

The last time the two were competing, Allen’s Hoosiers drove down the field on Walter’s Illini defense to ultimately win the game in last year’s season opener. Now it’s in November and recruiting the state.

Recruiting talent from Indiana has always been tricky because programs like Ohio State and Iowa can swoop in for top-end talent while Notre Dame remains a threat in the north. Otherwise, Power Five recruiting battles can come down to the Hoosiers and Boilermakers.

Indiana has three in-state 2024 commits so far. Purdue has four.

Of the Hoosiers’ three, none had an offer from the Boilers though there was interest in Adedamola Ajani. Of the Boilers’ four, two had offers from the Hoosiers. Worth noting that fourth is a kicker, a position Indiana is likely set at.

Walters has multiple recruiting wins under his belt before he’s coached his first game, but it remains to be seen if they’ll lead to wins on the field.