Expected to start
Shane Wynn/PR/JR/5-7/170Tevin Coleman/KR/SO/6-1/205 Isaiah Roundtree/KR/RS JR/5-11/195
The short, nimble and well known player, Wynn, will continue to be a major factor for special teams play in 2013. He is listed as the No. 1 punt returner on the depth chart which will be a change from last year as Nick Stoner was there the majority of the time. Currently he sits seventh all-time in Indiana history with 1,195 kickoff return yards.
A standout player last year on special teams, Coleman, was the leader in return yards with 566 on 24 kickoffs. That put him third in the Big Ten with an average of 23.6 yards per return. If you haven't already, watch his 100 yard kickoff return touchdown against Northwestern in 2012 to see his ability.
One of the quickest players on the Indiana football team, Roundtree, will be utilized as a returner in 2013. He played in 11 games last year finishing with 159 rushing yards and one touchdown.
In the two deep
Nick Stoner/PR/JR/182/6-1/182Ricky Jones/KR/RS FR/5-10/188 Shane Wynn/KR/
Stoner returned the majority of the punts last year for the Hoosiers. Stoner didn't put up the best return yards (on 13 punts 75 yards) but he was very reliable in catching the football. Stoner, a member of the IU Track and Field team is a proven runner. Stoner finished second in the 4x100 meter relay and third in the 4x400 relay at the Big Ten Championships.
After suffering a season ending ankle injury in the first game of the 2012 season Jones redshirted. In the season opener against Indiana State Jones had one kickoff return for 12 yards. Jones is a very quick, athletic player who is fit for returning the football.
Others in the mix
Hughes returned four kicks last season. While he won't be returning many kickoffs in 2013, the wide receiver has the playmaking ability to do it. He became the 35th Hoosier to pass 1,000 career yards and he currently is the 24th all-time in receiving yards.
Help on the way
J-Shun Harris/WR/(Fishers HS, Fishers, IN)/ 5-8/165
James Patton/Recruiting & Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant DLPatton joined the Hoosier football team on Feb. 11, 2013. Patton has coached at Miami (Ohio), Northwestern, and Oklahoma. While at Oklahoma he coached the offensive line for seven years where four of his players were All-Americans and played in the NFL. His line also ranked 5th in the nation averaging only one sack a game.
The returners do not lack skill. This group of players could be considered the most talented on the team. They each have the ability to find the end zone and excite the fans.
There are different styles of play on the special teams. Quick and versatile: Roundtree/Wynn/Jones, powerful: Coleman/Hughes, and pure speed: Stoner.
The returners are smart when it comes to unnecessary risk, doing a good job of limiting turnovers
What needs to improve
Yards after contact
The returners run well in open space. But when there are opponents in the way it is a different ball game. To be a good return unit, yards after contact is crucial.
One of the bigger complaints I heard last year was with Stoner fair catching the ball almost every punt. Most of those decisions were smart but there were always a few where plays could have been made to create a nice return.
Kevin Wilson's take on the unit
Coach Wilson commented on how the starters covering kicks will benefit the team. "I think we got some return guys…Hopefully you'll see some better play because some of our, even got a comment from a scout today said man you got your players on special teams and that's being done because we've got depth and we are going to play quote on quote more players. What you have is the depth chart and everyone on that list I would anticipate, you're going to see 90% of those guys in these first games as we play ball."
Indiana has a talent corps of returners and with the speed of players like Wynn, Coleman and Stoner, to name a few, the group has home run ability.