Even with the loss of Jordan Howard to the NFL the Indiana running game is not expected to miss a beat as the Hoosiers have a very deep and talented group of backs at their disposal this fall. In this preview Peegs.com takes a closer look at the running back position for the Indiana offense.
STATS: In 2015 Redding carried the ball 226 times for 1,012 yards (4.5 YPC) with nine touchdowns, and he had 12 receptions for 85 yards.
NOTES: After playing behind current NFL backs Tevin Coleman in 2014 and Jordan Howard last fall Redding finally gets his chance to show what he can do as the lead back for the Hoosiers. The Ohio native finished off the 2015 season very well as he rushed for 517 yards and two touchdowns in the final three games. Redding doesn’t have Coleman’s blazing speed or Howard’s power, but he runs very hard and he made tremendous strides as a player last fall from the beginning of the season to the end. If he continues to improve like that he should have a very productive 2016 season.
STATS: In 2015 Majette carried the ball 37 times for 181 yards (4.9 YPC), and he had five receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
NOTES: When Majette was recruited by IU it was to play either receiver on offense or defensive back on defense, but in Fall Camp last year he was moved to running back and had some big plays for the Hoosiers. The Virginia native has good speed and explosiveness along with pretty good size, and he showed on a few occasions last year that if he gets a crease he can make something happen. Majette is also a nice weapon coming out of the backfield as a receiver.
CLASS: Redshirt Sophomore
STATS: In 2015 Rodriguez carried the ball 12 times for 35 yards (2.9 YPC) with one touchdown.
NOTES: Rodriguez is a former walk-on that does not possess great speed but he is extremely strong and powerful. In the Pinstripe Bowl against Duke he showed that strength and power on a 7-yard touchdown run when he broke a few tackles before crossing the goal line. His value as a back is in those short yardage and goal line situations where the offense needs to pick up a couple tough yards. The Indianapolis native is also a contributor for the Hoosiers on special teams.
CLASS: Redshirt Junior
STATS: Patrick did not play in 2015 because he was ruled academically ineligible.
NOTES: No players has generated as much buzz as Camion Patrick has and he has yet to step on the field in a real game for the Hoosiers. Head coach Kevin Wilson has on more than one occasion called Patrick the best player on the team. He came to IU as a receiver from East Mississippi C.C. but was moved to running back during the season last fall and really opened some eyes there while playing on the scout team offense. He suffered a knee injury in spring ball that will most likely sideline him for the non-conference portion of the schedule, but he is expected to return for most, if not all, of the Big Ten season and he is expected to make an impact on the Indiana offense.
NOTES: Newton is a newcomer at the running back position after playing his first three years at linebacker. The IU senior was at linebacker in the spring but asked to get an opportunity on offense this fall and so far he has made a strong impression at his new spot. In high school Newton was a very good running back prospect, but the Indiana staff recruited him to play linebacker. At 6-foot-1 and 225-pounds the Florida native gives the IU offense a power back with some speed and athleticism.
CLASS: Redshirt Freshman
NOTES: Williams played last fall as a true freshman for the Hoosiers on defense as a cornerback, but he suffered a season-ending injury after just a few games and was able to get a medical redshirt. The Maryland native was recruited by the Hoosiers to play running back but the staff decided to try him at corner last fall. He made the move back to running back this spring and he gives the Indiana offense a very dynamic athlete that is capable of a big play whenever the ball is in his hands.
NOTES: Gest may not be the tallest running back but he is a powerful player with very good speed. The running back position is a very deep and talented group but it would not be surprising to see the Ohio native get some reps this fall on offense. In Fall Camp Gest has shown that he could be a nice threat as a receiver coming out of the backfield. He is also a candidate to be used as a returner on special teams.
NOTES: Natee is a very unique player that played quarterback in high school for one of the top programs in Texas despite being around 6-foot and 270 or so pounds. For a guy his size he moves very well and has light feet despite being built like a lineman. He is listed as a running back but the staff has talked about using him as an H-back, at tight end, and maybe even as a Wildcat QB.
The Hoosiers are once again forced to replace a running back that left early for the NFL Draft. Two years ago it was Tevin Coleman that had a big junior season, and that was followed by the very good year that Jordan Howard put together last fall after transferring from UAB. The top back-up for both Coleman and Howard was current Indiana junior Devine Redding. The Ohio native had an impressive season himself in 2015 as he rushed for over 1,000 yards. This year he is the top back for the Hoosiers, but he will have plenty of help as the IU running back position is loaded with talented players for 2016. Mike Majette got some carries last fall and he showed that he is capable of making big plays when given the chance. Alex Rodriguez was not used a great deal, but when he was he showed that he could be a solid situational back for the Hoosiers. The intrigue this year surrounds Camion Patrick and what he can add once he is healthy. Coach Wilson has been very complimentary of the former juco transfer, and if he is as good as advertised the Hoosiers could have another NFL prospect in their backfield. Another interesting running back option for IU is Clyde Newton. Newton is moving to running back after playing a great deal at linebacker his first three years, and based on what he has shown in Fall Camp it appears he has a chance to be an impact player for the Hoosiers this fall. Devonte Williams and Cole Gest give the IU offense two dynamic athletes that can be used in a variety of ways, while Tyler Natee is a very unique player that may look like a lineman but he has enough athleticism to be a skill position player. Add it all up and you have arguably the deepest and most talented position group on the Indiana roster.