A year ago one of the big question marks for Indiana at Big Ten Media Day was the defensive backfield. Graduation and early attrition hit those positions hard. Outside of cornerback Rashard Fant and safety Chase Dutra, nobody had really seen playing time of note.
Safety Jonathan Crawford and corner Andre Brown Jr. were thrown to the wolves as true freshmen. Brown went down after nine games and his spot was filled a pair of true frosh in converted wide receiver Leon Thornton and Tyler Green.
This year's Big Ten Media Day brought a 180-degree change in the outlook for the secondary.
"We've got experience," Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said. "We have everybody back. Better bodies.
"Our defensive backs have been in that 170-180 range. Rashard (Fant) is a very good player but in that 174-175 area. We need some size at DB. That's where Jameel Cook, at a little bit more than 200, Jonathan Crawford at 198, Zeke Walker at 225, Marcelino Ball is about 216, 212. That kind of weight. We need bigger bodies. A lot of these match-ups are like basketball where you body up and make a physical play."
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Additional experience or at least physical maturity comes from a pair of highly recruited transfers. Wesley Green is a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder from Lithonia, Georgia. He was a consensus four-star prospect who signed with South Carolina but transferred to Indiana after a redshirt year at the SEC program. Sat out last year per NCAA transfer rules.
Safety Jayme Thompson was also a four-star prospect and the Toledo native spent a redshirt year at Ohio State before leaving for two seasons of play at Iowa Western Community College.
Wilson was asked about both newcomers in Chicago this week beginning with Green.
"Wesley has been inconsistent. He's got a lot of talent, just lacks some maturity," Wilson said. "He'll be in the mix but he have a trend of that and quite honestly, he kind of knows he needs to shore some things up and be a bit more accountable.
"If you're inconsistent back there---when a guard messes up , a Dan Feeney, as good as he is he messes up, if he goes the wrong way we probably have a bad play and we punt the ball. If a corner messes up, it's a touchdown."
Thompson has enough size to be considered for the new "husky" or nickel position in Tom Allen's 4-2-5 defensive alignment. He was able to enroll early last January to get an important head start on learning the defense.
"We're trying to find that role between that nickel outside linebacker and that safety spot for him," Wilson said. "He's had a good offseason. He finished spring really well.
"We need to find someone at that hybrid position. I think we Jonathan Crawford and Chase Dutra, we have some back end guys. Tony Fields has a great spring for us, one of our defensive MVPs. I think Jayme is probably going to be that nickel spot up front."
Watch the entirety of coach Wilson's comments from Chicago: