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Indiana football: Tom Allen excited for running backs ahead of 2023

Indiana v Rutgers

Indiana football head coach Tom Allen named the Hoosiers’ running backs as a position he’s excited for heading into the season. During a media availability Tuesday, Allen was asked which position groups he feels best about after the spring, summer and into the fall.

“I think Josh [Henderson] has really honed in on being such a strong leader in that room, the way he handles his business as a pro,” Allen said. “He’s just such an attention-to-detail guy. Gotten bigger, stronger, faster. With Jaylin Lucas’ development in that room. David Holloman is another young guy, Trent Howland, guys that have been here. Expect them to all contribute. So it’s a group that’s got a lot of experience to it, but also some explosive guys in there, bigger, stronger, more powerful than they were a year ago. That group excites me.”

Later, Allen was specifically asked about Henderson’s leadership, which he’d mentioned above unprompted.

I think there’s confidence just in being in a place for year two. He’s such a steady guy, he’s so consistent, so dependable in every way.

“You just talk to the strength staff, the discipline in his diet, the way he’s put on a lot of good, lean muscle mass to create more of a Big Ten body. He’s always had a good frame on him, but he’s taken it to another level.”

“He’s a quiet guy, but there’s also the ability to lead that room, to be able to be a great example. When you think about being a great teammate, it’s doing your job, setting that example of being a consistent guy.”

“It’s also have the courage to hold your teammates accountable. I think that’s something he’s grown in as well, being able within that group of guys to make sure things are right. You bring in guys, you bring in new players to a certain group, you bring in guys to that side of the ball, and he’s able to be, Hey, this is how we do it here. Just really feel like he’s just matured and grown in that area.”

“He’s grown in his confidence, his ability to get out there. I just think he’s a guy that you can keep on the field. He’s a three-down back. He can catch, he can block, he can run. He’s able to just really do whatever he’s got to do the team be successful and win.”

Now, with statements like this, it’s important to focus on what Allen brought up unprompted rather than what he was asked. For example, singling out Henderson’s leadership and the progress from Jaylin Lucas.

Henderson transferred to Indiana from UNC last offseason, acting as the No. 2 back behind Shaun Shivers for most of 2022. He flashed potential multiple times for his ability to fight through contact between the tackles finishing with 398 yards and four touchdowns.

But he was also vital in the passing game with 274 receiving yards and four touchdowns, which led all receiviers, on the season. His eight total touchdowns were the most of any Hoosier in 2022.

In all likelihood, he’ll be the lead back this season and is something to look forward to for his versatility. A reliable receiver at running back will do wonders for an inexperienced quarterback.

Then, of course, there’s the pure potential of Jaylin Lucas with his speed. His touch counts will be limited, keep his work on special teams in mind, but he’ll be vital as a weapon and decoy for offensive coordinator Walt Bell to work with in year two.

Allen mentioned David Holloman and Trent Howland while going through the depth chart. Both are entering their redshirt sophomore seasons and have combined for 66 rushing yards in their careers at Indiana.

Finally, Indiana added former Wake Forest and Michigan running back Christian Turner this past offseason. He rushed for 516 yards with the Demon Deacons in 2022.

That’ll likely be the depth behind Henderson: Turner and then one of Holloman or Howland getting carries here and there.