Indiana will have to replace a running back in Devine Redding that twice rushed for over 1,000 yards, but there should be plenty of options starting with fifth-year senior Camion Patrick. Peegs.com takes a look at the running backs on the Indiana roster with our RB Position Primer.
CLASS: Redshirt Senior
STATS: In 2016 Patrick had six receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown, and he carried the ball four times for 10 yards and one touchdown.
NOTES: Camion Patrick came to IU as a wideout in the 2015 recruiting class, but because an academic issue he was not eligible to play so he spent that season on the scout team at running back. He was so impressive that he was moved to running back last spring, but unfortunately he suffered a knee injury during spring ball that kept him from doing much over the first half of the 2016 season. Once he was able to come back he was moved back to wideout to protect his knee, and in a small sample size he showed glimpses of why former coach Kevin Wilson called him the best player on the team at the end of the 2015 season. The Tennessee native will be at running back this season and he has a chance to give IU another 1,000 yard rusher if he can stay healthy this fall. He has the size of a Jordan Howard and athleticism that is similar to Tevin Coleman, which is why the offensive coaches were so excited about his potential. He will probably be limited in spring after suffering a late season injury that was not related to his knee injury, but he is the odds on favorite to be the starter at RB when the IU offense takes the field this fall.
STATS: In 2016 Majette rushed for 180 yards on 39 carries, and he had seven receptions for 87 yards.
NOTES: In his first two years with the Hoosiers Mike Majette has shown that he is a guy with tremendous explosion that can make big plays when he has the opportunity to do so, but he has also struggled to stay healthy as he has failed to finish both of the seasons he has been at IU. If he can stay healthy he gives the staff a player with good size that has breakaway speed and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Majette has been especially effective on screen plays where he is able to get the ball in space and use his speed to make things happen. With Camion Patrick most likely limited this spring Majette could open spring ball as the number one back for the Hoosiers.
CLASS: Redshirt Sophomore
STATS: In 2016 Williams rushed for 167 yards on 48 carries, and he had seven receptions for 50 yards.
NOTES: Devonte Williams was recruited as a RB by the IU staff but he actually spent his true freshman season in 2015 as a cornerback for the Hoosiers. He played in a few games at that position before suffering a season ending injury. Fortunately for him the injury occurred early enough that he was able to get a medical redshirt. Williams was moved to the offensive side of the ball during Fall Camp last season and he showed flashes of why the staff was so excited about his potential as a running back when they recruited him out of high school. Williams is not the type of running back that is going to bust it up the middle and break a lot of tackles at the line of scrimmage, but he is a guy that could make big plays if he can get a crease and get to the second level where he can use his speed and quickness in the open field.
STATS: In 2016 Natee rushed for 237 yards on 61 carries with two touchdowns, and he had one reception for four yards.
NOTES: Tyler Natee, or “Big Bacon” as he is known, had a solid freshman season for the Hoosiers last fall. Coming in it was hard to know what to expect from the Texas native because he was a QB in high school, and it was unclear whether or not his skills would work at the Big Ten level. The other question with Natee was where would he play. Would he be a tight end, a running back, or an H-back? He was used as a RB and as a Wildcat QB and he did a nice job when called upon. Now the question with Natee is how does he fit at IU with Kevin Wilson no longer running things since he was kind of Wilson’s pet project. The other issue is his size and whether or not he can stay at a weight that allows him to be an effective runner at this level. If he can do that there should be a role for him going forward in the IU offense.
CLASS: Redshirt Freshman
STATS: In 2016 Gest received a medical redshirt. He rushed for 47 yards on 10 carries, and he had one reception for two yards in three games before suffering an injury that ended his season.
NOTES: Cole Gest looked to be on the verge of breaking out last fall when he went down with an ankle injury against Wake Forest. The Ohio native was a player the staff was very high on coming in and in the first few games he showed flashes of why they were so excited about him, but against the Demon Deacons he suffered a lower leg injury that ended his freshman season. Gest brings a great deal of explosion and athleticism to the running back position. He may not be very tall but he has enough strength to be an effective runner between the tackles. Where Gest really excels is when he can get outside and use his speed to make big plays. Even though he is coming off the injury and is still pretty inexperienced at this level, it would not be surprising to see him in the two-deep at RB.
CLASS: Redshirt Junior
STATS: In 2016 Brookins rushed for 82 yards on 20 carries, and he had four receptions for 16 yards.
NOTES: Ricky Brookins is a former walk-on that has played running back for the Hoosiers and he has also played some at wideout. Last year he played more wideout than running back because there was a need for depth at slot receiver. In the Foster Farms Bowl he was at running back and he was the back-up to Devine Redding, and the Terre Haute native had a good game with 53 yards rushing on 12 carries. Brookins gives the Indiana offense a guy who has some speed and has the versatility to play multiple positions.
CLASS: Redshirt Junior
STATS: In 2016 Rodriguez rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries, and he had one reception for 15 yards.
NOTES: Former walk-on Alex Rodriguez is a power back that gives Indiana someone they can use in short yardage and goal line situations. The Indianapolis native is one of the strongest players on the team, and that strength shows through on the field when defenders try to tackle him. While he does not possess great speed, he is still able to have some nice runs because of his ability to break tackles. With so many talented guys in front of him it could be tough to find carries for Rodriguez, but because he can be effective as a power back there should be a role for him in the IU offense.
Devine Redding – In his career Redding played in 36 games with 17 starts. He rushed for 2,252 yards on 508 carries with 17 touchdowns, and he also had 27 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Starter: Camion Patrick
Back-up: Mike Majette
3rd string: Cole Gest
Running back has easily been one of the top positions on the Indiana roster the last few years with guys like Tevin Coleman, Jordan Howard and Devine Redding putting up impressive numbers on the ground. Redding had another year of eligibility but decided to give the NFL a shot. The good news for IU is they have a running back on their roster in Patrick that has the ability to put up numbers very similar to what Coleman and Howard did when they were at IU. The biggest thing for Patrick is getting on the field and staying healthy. If he does it would not be surprising to see him run for well over 1,000 yards this fall. Behind him there is quality depth in Majette, Gest, Williams, Natee, Brookins and Rodriguez. Gest is the intriguing player at running back for the Hoosiers because of his power and explosiveness. He is not the tallest back, but he is not small and he has great burst. Majette is also an explosive back that has shown the ability to be a real weapon for IU when he is healthy. Williams is s smaller back that is at his best when he can get out in the open and get in space. Natee had a defined role with Kevin Wilson as the head coach, but it is hard to say if that is still the case going forward with a new offensive staff. Brookins and Rodriguez give the Hoosiers quality depth at running back. Both have played in big games and played well. There will be a new running backs coach at IU this year and he should have plenty of options when it comes to finding someone to run the ball at a high level.