Analysis: Tommy Stevens flips to Penn State

Tommy Stevens flipped his commitment Monday night from Indiana to Penn State. A big loss for the Hoosiers? Absolutely. But give Stevens kudos for making the announcement now and not waiting until signing day and hanging Indiana out to dry. Now Kevin Wilson and his staff at least have a few months to try to find his replacement moving forward.

Tommy Stevens did the Indiana coaching staff a favor Monday night.

My guess is that it may be a little early for IU football fans to view it in that light but that is clearly the case.

Stevens, an Indianapolis kid from Decatur Central and one of the most heralded recruits in Indiana’s upcoming recruiting class, announced via Twitter Monday night that he had flipped his commitment from Indiana to Penn State.

While that decision may be disappointing or shocking to many IU football fans, the reality is that by Stevens making his decision in early November, he has given the IU football staff a great gift.

Indiana now has a fighting chance to find a replacement for Stevens moving forward. Had the Decatur Central QB waiting until February for signing day and then flipped his commit, this would have been a much more difficult process for the IU staff.

But by announcing when he did, Stevens did it the right way. I think he has to be given kudos for that.

In announcing his decision Monday night, Stevens put the following comment up on his Twitter account.

“After carefully weighing out my options, my family and I have decided that it is in my best interest to commit to Penn State. I want to thank all of the coaches who have recruited me throughout this process. I especially want to thank the Indiana staff. I fully believe they are moving in the right direction and I wish them nothing but the best in the future. It was a tough decision to leave home but I have to do what I feel like is best for me.’’

The decision obviously now intensifies IU’s search for a quality quarterback late in this recruiting period. Nate Sudfeld, IU’s ace who was lost for the season after suffering a shoulder injury at Iowa, is expected to be back full go for next season but who will be his understudy next season, and beyond that who will be the quarterback of the future beginning with the 2016 season?

Up until Monday night, that answer had been Stevens.

Now it’s back to the drawing board for Kevin Wilson and his staff in terms of the quarterback position.

Still, it’s just one more hit in what has been a 6-month period of one hit after another for the position at IU.

Two seasons ago, IU had a logjam at the quarterback spot.

Every week, we played the game where we weren’t sure who the starting quarterback would be until they ran out from the sideline and into the huddle for the first possession of the game.

Would it be the strong-armed pocket passer Sudfeld, the dual threat QB Tre Roberson or a steady option in Cameron Coffman?

All three started games at IU and all three had proved their worth. But there was only one ball and one person who could play the position at one time.

And so prior to the 2014 season, Coffman and Roberson both decided that they could do better – and play more – by transferring to another school. So Coffman headed to Wyoming and Roberson to Illinois State.

Which left Sudfeld to run the show. All of which was fine until the junior quarterback suffered a shoulder injury to his non-throwing shoulder when he was driven into the ground on a sack earlier this season at Iowa.

Just like that, if you include Coffman and Roberson, IU was down three quarterbacks in a short period of time.

Chris Covington, who was recruited to play defense but then made the switch to QB to back up Sudfeld once the season began, was the next man up and finished the Iowa game. But then he got hurt in practice and was done for the season.

That was the fourth quarterback down.

That left Zander Diamont and Nate Boudreau as the primary options. Diamont started and played against Michigan State and then Michigan and Boudreau was inserted into the lineup to give IU another look. But he took a shoulder hit, too and was not available last week against Penn State.

He could possibly be ready this Saturday when IU faces Rutgers.

The question mark at QB for the present is whether an IU QB can step up and make a mark in the final three games against Rutgers, Ohio State or Purdue? Based on three games with Diamont, it’s difficult to expect a lot there.

And beyond that, IU simply has to find a way to secure another quarterback or two in the next two recruiting classes.

So be disappointed with this news if you want, but know that in the long run Stevens did IU a favor by making his announcement when he did.

It doesn't always work out that way.

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