Of all the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, Indiana has the most experience returning at wide receiver, though it’s not clear whether everyone will be ready for the opening kickoff against Ohio State.
Before we discuss what each player brings, let’s take a look at who’s on the roster. Because so many of the returners from last year have seen limited playing time, I’m going to add a separate category of returners who have yet to prove themselves as contributors at the college level.
- Sr Cam Camper
- Jr Andison Coby
- Jr Donaven McCulley (Second season at WR)
- So Omar Cooper Jr.
- R-Fr Kamryn Perry
- R-Jr David Baker
- R-So Jaquez Smith
- R-Fr Jackson Wasserstrom (walk-on)
- R-Fr Brady Simmons (walk-on)
- R-So Eli Jochem (walk-on)
- R-So Camden Jordan (walk-on)
- Sr E.J. Williams (transfer from Clemson)
- Sr Dequece Carter (transfer from Fordham)
- Fr Derrick Bohler (3-star recruit, #193 WR in the class of 2023)
- Fr Orlando Greenlow (3-star recruit, #251 WR in the class of 2023)
Indiana Football 2023 Position Previews
Now obviously, with a position group this big, it’s unlikely we see all or even most of these guys in game action in 2023. That said, Indiana has been bit hard by the injury bug lately as well as transfers out, so it’s probably worth at least knowing who these guys are.
The good news for Indiana fans is that Cam Camper will be back this year after leading the team in receptions (46) and yards (596) in just seven games before going down with an injury. He’s still rehabbing from the torn ACL that cost him the end of the last season, but once he’s back, look for him to pick up where he left off as a favorite target for Indiana quarterbacks.
Of the other returners, Indiana will probably count on some increase in production from both or one of Donaven McCulley and Andison Coby. The pair combined for 34 catches, 406 yards, and two touchdowns last season.
McCulley remains an intriguing prospect, especially since he proved himself to be a high-level athlete during his time as Indiana’s quarterback. Despite only playing 7 games at quarterback in 2021, he finished fourth on the team in rushing yards and second in touchdowns on the season.
Hopefully with another offseason under his belt at his new position will have helped him prepare to replace the production the Hoosiers lost with the departures of Emery Simmons and D.J. Matthews.
At this point, you can probably pencil in newcomer Dequece Carter as the starter at the slot receiver position. In his last season at Fordham, he caught 56 passes for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading the team with 20.8 yards per catch.
There’s no way to say how he will handle the step up in competition from Fordham to the Big Ten, but if he can even come close to replicating last year’s numbers, he would give this offense a much-needed boost.
Tom Allen has also indicated that he expects Clemson transfer E.J. Williams to contribute immediately, though his career stats make it a little harder to know what we’re getting in this 6’3” receiver.
Before committing to Clemson, Williams was a four-star recruit rated the 13th best receiver in his class. He got off to a good start with the Tigers, catching 24 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns, but gradually saw his production decrease. Last season at Clemson, he caught just seven passes for 70 yards.
Given the uncertain status of Cam Camper, adding somebody with high-major experience like Williams makes sense. Once everyone’s healthy though, he may have to prove himself to be more like 2020 Williams than 2022 Williams to see a lot of action.
Another intriguing piece on the roster is Jaquez Smith, who was a 24/7 Composite four star recruit with offers from Alabama and Arkansas out of high school before choosing the Hoosiers. He redshirted his freshman year before missing 2022 to injury, so we haven’t seen much of him yet, but on paper, he is one of the more talented prospects in the group.
Despite being listed as a running back, I think we could also see a good dose of Jaylin Lucas lined up out wide this year. As Indiana’s most exciting offensive player, Walt Bell would do well to get him the ball as often as possible.
Lucas doesn’t have the size or strength to run through a ton of contact, so if the line can’t give him the push he needs, it could make sense to have him lined up in space, where he can use his agility and explosive speed to break off big plays for the Hoosiers. His preseason All-American honors as a kick returner also seem to suggest that he’s at his best when he isn’t fighting for his life behind questionable blocking up front.
However things shake out with injuries and the depth chart, Indiana’s quarterbacks should have a solid number of options this season, and there’s the potential for guys like McCulley, Smith, of Williams to emerge as true threats the way Cam Camper did last year.