Mike Pegram/Peegs.com

2016 Position Primer: IU Tight Ends

Indiana lost their top two tight ends from last year but they return a great deal of talent at that spot, and they have also added a junior college transfer that should be a factor right away.

The season opener for head coach Kevin Wilson and his Indiana football team is a week from tomorrow. Between now and then Peegs.com will take a look at every position on the roster as the Hoosiers continue to prepare for the 2016 season. In this preview we examine the tight end position, which is a spot where IU has players who excel at blocking and as receivers.

Position Primer: Indiana Quarterbacks

Position Primer: Indiana Linebackers

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TOP RETURNEES

http://www.scout.com/player/164552-danny-friend?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

STATS: In 2015 Friend had three receptions for 39 yards in four games before suffering a season-ending injury.

NOTES: The last two years have been tough for Friend as he missed all of the 2014 season with an injury, and then missed all but four games last fall with an injury. He is healthy now and the staff is expecting big things from him. Even though the Illinois native is not a huge threat in the passing game, he has shown in the past that he can be a capable receiver, but his real value is what he does as a blocker in the run game. When Friend is on the field it is almost like the offense has a sixth offensive lineman.

http://www.scout.com/player/164267-jordan-fuchs?s=170

CLASS: Junior

STATS: In 2015 Fuchs had four receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

NOTES: Fuchs missed almost half the season because he was also banged up last year. When he is healthy he gives the IU offense a big, athletic target in the pass game. He is especially valuable in the red zone because his combination of size and athleticism makes it tough for a defensive back to cover him. If he can stay healthy this fall he has a chance to put up solid numbers as a receiver for the Hoosiers.

http://www.scout.com/player/183488-austin-dorris?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Freshman

STATS: Dorris redshirted last season as a true freshman.

NOTES: Dorris came to IU as a tight end last fall after playing quarterback for Shadyside H.S. in Ohio. He needed a redshirt year to get bigger and stronger, and to learn the fundamentals of playing the tight end position. He is another big, athletic target for the IU offense in the pass game that can also be used as a blocker when the Hoosiers run the ball. Dorris missed some of spring ball with an injury, and he has also missed a little bit of Fall Camp with an injury. If he is healthy he should be in the mix at tight end this fall.

NEWCOMERS

http://www.scout.com/player/202070-ian-thomas?s=170

CLASS: Junior

NOTES: Thomas is a junior college transfer from Nassau C.C. in New York. Last fall he hauled in 23 receptions for 433 yards and three touchdowns in eight games of action. Because he was only about 225 or 230 pounds Thomas was more of a receiver at Nassau, but since he has arrived at IU he has worked hard to get bigger and stronger which should help him when he is asked to block this fall. But what he gives the IU offense is another, big athletic target similar to Fuchs that can be a real threat in the pass game.

http://www.scout.com/player/204772-shaun-bonner?s=170

CLASS: Junior

NOTES: Bonner comes to IU from Colquitt County H.S. in Georgia which is one of the top programs in that state. When he signed the coaches mentioned him as someone they thought could be a factor this fall, but he suffered an injury right before Fall Camp that will probably force him to redshirt this fall.

ANALYSIS

Even though the Hoosiers lost two good players in Michael Cooper and Anthony Corsaro after the 2015 season the tight end spot looks to be one of the stronger position groups on the roster for 2016. The key will be staying healthy as a few of the current tight ends have battled injuries throughout their time at IU. This tight end group for Indiana gives the staff a lot of options because there is so much versatility. You have a guy in Danny Friend who excels as a blocker, and then you have guys like Jordan Fuchs and Ian Thomas that will be asked to block but their value is as receivers who can make plays in the passing game. Redshirt freshman Austin Dorris is someone that looks like he could be pretty good as both a blocker and a receiver. It is disappointing that newcomer Shaun Bonner is most likely not going to be a factor this fall, but the good news is there is enough talent and depth at tight end that he can take his redshirt and use this year to get bigger and stronger for next year and beyond.

 


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