After playing in only four games the last two seasons due to injuries tight end Danny Friend is healthy and ready to do what he can to help the IU offense have a great 2016 season. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound redshirt junior spoke to Peegs.com recently about Fall Camp went for him.
The Illinois native was pleased with how camp went for him and his teammates, and he said the best part is he feel great physically.
“It’s been going really well,” Friend said about Fall Camp. “The team has had a lot of energy and I think we have been looking good. I am feeling good and healthy which is good. I am just excited to start the season because I’ve missed a lot of time the last couple years. You put in all these hours in the weight room and on the practice field and now I finally have something to show for it.”
Indiana tight ends coach said the staff has high expectations for Friend this season after not having him much for the last two years.
“Injuries are a part of the game and he’s been unfortunate in a couple situations where he was engaged in blocking and a guy rolls on the back of his legs,” Patton said about Friend. “There are things you can control and there are things you can’t, but his focus and energy to get himself back right physically has been awesome. He’s feeling good and he’s playing well and he’s practicing well. We expect him to have a really good year because he’s a fourth-year player even though he has only played about two years of football. He’s hungry, I would say that. He’s hungry to keep himself healthy and to play good football and to help this offense.”
With the loss of both Michael Cooper and Anthony Corsaro at tight end Friend is now the veteran leader at that position and he feels a responsibility to carry the culture that Cooper and Corsaro established.
“We just need to hold everyone to the standard that those guys (Cooper and Corsaro) left us,” Friend said. “We also need to make sure each guy is accountable and that they do their job every day. As a position group we have to help this offense in however they have us do it, whether that be in the running game or the passing game.”
Friend is a very good blocking tight end and he knows that is what his primary role is, but he worked hard this summer on his route-running so that he can be a threat in the passing game if he is asked to be a pass-catcher for the Hoosiers.
“I definitely worked on running routes and having more acceleration and more speed in my routes,” he said. “My job is more of a run blocker but if they want me to go out there and catch passes and I will do it to the best of my ability. I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
The talented Hoosier tight end said he gets as much satisfaction from blocking for a touchdown as he does from scoring one himself.
“When one person scores we all score,” Friend said. “When somebody scores it is a race to the end zone because we’re all trying to get down there to be the first guy down there to celebrate.”
While Friend is the blocking tight it is Jordan Fuchs that provides the Hoosiers with a talented receiver at that position, and Friend said he has been impressed with how Fuchs has looked in camp.
“He looks great,” Friend said about Fuchs. “He has definitely stepped up big time. Mentally he is just more focused. You can see it with the way he goes out to practice every day. He’s more driven and he’s going to make a big impact for us this year.”
The only other Hoosier that was at tight end last fall is redshirt freshman Austin Dorris, and Friend said the Ohio native has a big upside once he gets it all figured out.
“He has got to keep progressing every day,” Friend said about Dorris. “He missed some time in the spring and missed a little bit of time in this camp, but he just has to keep coming every day and get better. If he does that and keeps grasping the offense like he has he will definitely be out there.”
One newcomer at tight end that has made big impression on Friend is junior college transfer Ian Thomas.
“He is incredibly athletic,” Friend said about Thomas. “He just needs to keep working on knowing the offense. The better he understands the routes the less tentative he will be and the faster he will be able to play and the better he will be able to play.”
With the season opener just days away Friend said he and the rest of his teammates are really looking forward to getting out on the field and playing for real.
“We’re extremely ready,” he said. “Coming to work every day for practice is good and we need it, but we’re ready to get out there and play somebody else.”