CHICAGO – Kevin Wilson said there was an obvious reason why he didn't have a quarterback as one of the three Indiana players that represented the Hoosiers and participated in Wednesday's Big Ten Media Day activities at the downtown Hilton.
Instead, the Hoosiers were represented by a wide receiver, a safety and a kicker.
"The reason I don't have a quarterback here is because I'm not sure which one it is,'' Wilson said. "If I did I would have all three of those guys representing us because they're three great leaders. Until I know which one is going to be our leader, I wasn't going to anoint someone.
"They're going to earn it on the field.''
The third-year Indiana coach does have good options. Tre Roberson, a redshirt sophomore from Indianapolis, started the final five games of his freshman season, throwing for 937 yards and running for another 426. He came into last season as the starter but suffered a broken leg in the second game of the season at Massachusetts and received a medical redshirt.
Cameron Coffman, a junior college transfer a year ago from Arizona Western, came in and put up impressive numbers. He threw for 2,734 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He had three games of over 300 yards. He threw for 454 yards against Penn State. He ranked second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game. The third guy, sophomore Nate Sudfeld, threw for 632 yards as a true freshman in a backup role behind Coffman. He had seven touchdowns and just one interception in seven games.
Add it all up and you have three capable players. But only one guy can start. So a likely month-long quarterback competition is on the horizon leading up to IU's opener Aug. 29 at home against Indiana State.
All three have clear strengths. Wilson said Wednesday that Sudfeld has the best arm strength of the trio and pointed out that he has the football IQ to go with it. He said Coffman might have the best moxie of the group. Wilson called him "a little daredevil" who will take some shots and some chances. He said Coffman has great anticipation and vision. With Roberson, he simply said that Tre is the best athlete of the group.
The big question a coming out of Wednesday is whether the IU coach has a particular timetable in mind as to when he wants to name a starter.
"I don't know,'' Wilson said. "Sooner rather than later. But I haven't said, ‘OK, I gotta know by the first scrimmage or the second.''
Wilson said when he was at Oklahoma he went into a scrimmage sure he was going to reveal who his starting quarterback would be. He was completely confident in one player: Sam Bradford.
Wilson said, "Man, Sam's looking great and after this scrimmage we're gonna name him the starter and he went out and laid an egg. And we're like, ‘OK."
So Wilson isn't going to rush it but at the same time he would like to narrow his choices reasonably soon.
"I think the sooner the better because quite honeslty I like ‘em all,'' Wilson said. "They're all doing well, they're all deserving of reps. It will be difficult for us to manage the reps because if they're all deserving of reps then your starter or there's a guy that plays the most he's really getting a diminishing return.
"So you wanna be fair, give those guys an opportunity sooner rather than later, but coming out of spring you really couldn't tell. So we'll see as we start.''
Wide receiver Kofi Hughes said he thinks it's going to continue to be a good competition throughout camp. And he said it's not that big of a distraction to the team not knowing who the starting quarterback is going to be.
"You would think that maybe it would throw off our rhythm or something but at the end of the day we're all still running the same plays, they are the same reads,'' Hughes said. "They've all got to put the ball in the same spot whether it's Nate throwing the higher ball than Tre or little things like that. But as a wide out we're really going to catch anything.
"I don't think timing is really thrown off at all having basically three starting quarterbacks.''
Wilson said the important thing is that one person emerges who can do the things Indiana needs to do offensively this season to win games.
"What we're going to do is run our spread offense, be a little bit up tempo,'' Wilson said. "We'll throw the ball in space and try to be a team that can throw it pushing 70 percent, which we have yet to beat. So one, it's the ability to throw the ball. Two, the ability to move the offense but to score. Our offense moves the ball but we don't score points proportional to moving the ball. And good teams score points. You don't win games by getting yards. You win games by crossing the G line or not letting them cross the G line. So it's points.
"We need a guy that gets us to the fringe zone and gets his team in the end zone and a guy that's going to protect the football.''
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/foxsportshutch