Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

2016 Position Primer: IU Defensive Backs

Peegs.com takes a closer a look at the Indiana defensive backfield. It is a spot where the Hoosiers have a good mix of talent and experience at both cornerback and safety.

The 2015 season was a struggle for the Indiana secondary, but the game experience the IU defensive backs received last fall should pay off this season. In this preview Peegs.com takes a look at the names to know in the Hoosiers defensive backfield

Position Primer: Indiana Quarterbacks

Position Primer: Indiana Linebackers

Position Primer: Indiana Tight Ends

Position Primer: Indiana Running Backs

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TOP RETURNEES

http://www.scout.com/player/158937-chase-dutra?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

STATS: In 2015 Dutra recorded 61 tackles, four tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

NOTES: Dutra missed five games last fall because of an injury, but he still managed to finish fifth on the team in tackles with 61. The Brownsburg, Indiana native was also limited in spring ball as he was rehabbing the injury that he suffered last fall. He has also been a little limited in Fall Camp, but if he is healthy he is expected to be a key contributor for the back end of the Indiana defense.

http://www.scout.com/player/149115-rashard-fant?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

STATS: In 2015 Fant recorded 52 tackles, 22 pass break-ups, 1.5 tackles for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery.

NOTES: In 2015 Fant emerged as one of the better cover corners in the Big Ten. His 22 pass break-ups led the conference and it was the second highest total in the country. While the pass break-up number is very good, the fact that Fant had that many PBU’s and only one pick is a little disappointing. He had chances to get a few more picks but was unable to do so. If the Georgia native can turn some of those pass break-ups into interceptions he will go from a good Big Ten cornerback to one of the top cornerbacks in the conference.

http://www.scout.com/player/161151-jonathan-crawford?s=170

CLASS: Sophomore

STATS: In 2015 Crawford recorded 76 tackles, four interceptions, one tackle for loss, one sack, one pass break-up, one forced fumble and one blocked field goal.

NOTES: Crawford was inserted into the starting line-up in game one and he went on to start all games for the Hoosiers last fall. He played very well in the first half of the season before appearing to hit the freshman wall both physically and mentally in the second half of the season. The year of experience should be huge for him as he will be counted to be a big playmaker for the IU secondary in 2016. If he continues to improve he has a chance to be an All-Big Ten type player before his college career is over.

http://www.scout.com/player/174383-andre-brown?s=170

CLASS: Sophomore

STATS: In 2015 Brown recorded 35 tackles, four pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.

NOTES: Brown played in the first nine games in 2015 with eight starts before suffering a season-ending injury. The Georgia native showed flashes of why the staff was so high on him when they signed him, but like so many young players he struggled with consistency. He gives the IU defensive backfield a big, physical corner who can play the run and pass.

http://www.scout.com/player/164968-tony-fields?s=170

CLASS: Junior

STATS: In 2015 Fields recorded 19 tackles and one interception that he returned 20 yards for a touchdown against Wake Forest.

NOTES: Fields appeared in all 13 games for the Hoosiers as a top reserve at the safety position. His interception in the road victory against Wake Forest was an especially big play. The Florida native might not start any games this fall for the IU defense, but he will almost certainly get valuable playing time and be in the rotation at safety all season long. It is not out of the question that he could also get some snaps at the Husky position.

http://www.scout.com/player/193296-ben-bach?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

STATS: In 2015 Bach recorded 12 tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass break-up.

NOTES: Bach played in all 13 games last fall and got his only start of the season in the Pinstripe Bowl against Duke. The former walk-on was also a key member of the Indiana special teams unit. In the spring he was moved to the Husky position and it looked like he could be the starter there, but in Fall Camp he was moved back to corner and is in the mix to be the starter opposite of Rashard Fant. He gives the IU secondary a big corner who is not afraid to play physical on the perimeter. He could also see time at Husky this fall.

http://www.scout.com/player/186161-jameel-cook?s=170

CLASS: Sophomore

STATS: In 2015 Cook recorded 16 tackles, one interception that he returned 96 yards for a touchdown against Florida International, and one pass break-up.

NOTES: As a true freshman last fall Cook only started one game but he was a key player for the Hoosiers as he was their Nickel DB. He played in eight games total before suffering a foot injury that cost him the rest of the season. The interception he had against FIU sealed the game for the Hoosiers. The Texas native gives the IU secondary another long, rangy DB that can play both the run and the pass.

http://www.scout.com/player/180385-tyler-green?s=170

CLASS: Sophomore

STATS: In 2015 Green recorded 16 tackles and one tackle for loss.

NOTES: Green came to Indiana as a highly regarded safety out of DeMatha H.S. in Maryland but the IU staff liked his potential at corner so they moved him there. He did not see any action in the first five games but did play in the final eight with a couple of starts. The upside for Green is very high because corners with his combination of size and athleticism are rare.

http://www.scout.com/player/178294-leon-thornton?s=170

CLASS: Sophomore

STATS: In 2015 Thornton recorded 10 tackles and one tackle for loss.

NOTES: Thornton was a wide receiver for the first 10 games of the season before being moved to corner the week of the Maryland game. He ended up playing the final three games of 2015 on defense with a start in the final regular season game against Purdue. Thornton was a corner last fall and back in the spring, but in Fall Camp he has been getting reps at safety.

http://www.scout.com/player/174028-kiante-walton?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Sophomore

STATS: In 2015 Walton recorded 13 tackles in two games of action before suffering a season ending injury and taking a medical redshirt.

NOTES: Walton was off to a good start last fall with 13 tackles in two games, but unfortunately his season ended early and he had to take a medical redshirt. The Georgia native is back healthy and should be in the rotation at the safety position. Walton will probably also be used extensively on special teams for the Hoosiers.

http://www.scout.com/player/166535-noel-padmore?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

STATS: In 2015 Padmore recorded eight tackles.

NOTES: Padmore has primarily been a special teams performer for the Hoosiers. He has received very few snaps with the defense, and with some new faces at that spot for 2016 playing time for him could once again be tough to come by. Look for Padmore to get the majority of his snaps on special teams.

http://www.scout.com/player/185563-zeke-walker?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

STATS: In 2015 Walker recorded nine tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.

NOTES: Walker missed over half the 2015 season after suffering a foot injury that ended his season after five games. He has been healthy in Fall Camp and he appears to be one of the candidates to man the Husky position for the Hoosiers. Walker is a good fit at Husky because he has the athleticism to play in coverage, and the size to play the run.

http://www.scout.com/player/166117-wesley-green?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Sophomore

STATS: Green sat out the 2015 season after transferring to IU from South Carolina.

NOTES: Green was a highly recruited cornerback out of the state of Georgia in 2014 and he ended up signing with South Carolina. After one season with the Gamecocks he decided to transfer and ended up at Indiana. Green has the potential to be a very good cover corner for the Hoosiers, but he has struggled with consistency and that has kept him from moving solidly into the two-deep at cornerback.

NEWCOMERS

http://www.scout.com/player/158767-jayme-thompson?s=170

CLASS: Redshirt Junior

NOTES: Thompson is a junior college transfer that has been at IU since January. He practiced with the team in the spring and is expected to be a top contributor at the Husky spot, and also at both the safety spots. The issue is he has missed quite a bit of time in Fall Camp with a turf toe injury. Practicing in the spring does help but even then he was not able to be out there every practice because he got banged up then as well. If he is able to be on the field for the Hoosiers he should be an impact player.

                                     

http://www.scout.com/player/188051-marcelino-ball?s=170

CLASS: Freshman

NOTES: Ball was one of the last additions for the Hoosiers in the 2016 signing class, and he might end up being of the biggest contributors this fall. The Georgia native was recruited to play the Husky spot, and so far he looks like a perfect fit for that position. Ball has an older brother that plays for Carolina in the NFL, and he has two other brothers that played college football.

 

http://www.scout.com/player/196641-khalil-bryant?s=170

CLASS: Freshman

NOTES: Bryant gives the Indiana defense another athletic safety that could also play the Husky spot if asked to do so. With so many talented and experienced guys in front of him at safety playing time could be hard to come by, but Bryant has been mentioned by the coaches as someone that has opened some eyes in camp so it would not be surprising to see him get some snaps this fall.

http://www.scout.com/player/172561-a-shon-riggins?s=170

CLASS: Freshman

NOTES: Riggins was an outstanding two-way player at Hamilton H.S. in Ohio, but the Indiana staff recruited him all along to play cornerback. While it can be difficult for freshman to play at corner in major college football, Riggins has earned very good reviews for his performance in Fall Camp and there is a good chance he is in the rotation at corner this fall.

ANALYSIS

There is no question that that 2015 season was a difficult one for the IU secondary, but that is almost to be expected when you play as many young and inexperienced defensive backs as the Hoosiers did. The silver lining in what happened last year is that these young and talented defensive backs got valuable experience that should start to pay off this year. If guys like Andre Brown and Tyler Green use last year’s struggles to get better it should make the cornerback position a much better one when you add them to the likes of Rashard Fant and Ben Bach. At safety there is a great deal of talent that has playing experience. Chase Dutra has played a lot of football for the Hoosiers over the last two years, and so has Tony Fields. Jonathan Crawford played in all 13 games last fall. Jayme Thompson might be a newcomer but he spent one season at Ohio State before playing at one of the top junior college programs in the nation the last two years. Getting Kiante Walton and Jameel Cook back healthy is big for the safety spot. The Husky position, which is basically a third safety in the IU defense, looks to be in good hands with Zeke Walker and Marcelino Ball there, as well as Ben Bach who has been at corner in Fall Camp but was the number one Husky in spring ball. Besides Ball there are a couple other impressive looking freshman in Khalil Bryant and A’Shon Riggins. If this secondary can stay relatively healthy they should be vastly improved over what IU had out there last fall.


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