Bloomington, Ind. – The Indiana coaching staff is talking big when it comes to Tandon Doss.
The senior at Indianapolis' Ben Davis H.S. is one of 15 players who have already committed for the 2008 recruiting class. A 6-3, 190-pounder who has been Ben Davis' primary ball carrier this fall, Doss will could be filling some big shoes a wide receiver once he arrives at IU next fall.
"(The IU staff) is talking about me replacing James Hardy next year on the outside," said Doss, who is Scout.com's 94th-ranked wide receiver nationally. "It's very exciting to hear that, but those are some pretty big shoes to fill."
There are plenty who think that Hardy will be departing at season's end for the NFL, which will present an opportunity for someone to surface. Based on Doss' productivity this fall, he could very well be that person.
Ben Davis has struggled to a 4-3 start, but it hasn't been Doss' doing. He's accounted for 12 touchdowns this fall, scoring via the run, the pass and the return. He leads the team with 750 rushing yards on 101 carries, while also catching 29 passes for 414 yards.
He's become the focal point of the Ben Davis offense ever since quarterback Marqueis Gray was lost with a broken bone in his non-throwing arm in a week two loss to Penn.
"I was going to play a bigger role whether Marqueis was hurt or not," Doss said. "Offensively, the team looks to me to make plays for them and score a lot of points. When we're down, they look to me to bring them back up."
Indiana, meanwhile, will soon be looking to him to contribute in Bloomington. He was in Bloomington for the Hoosiers' 27-14 loss to Illinois and plans to be in the stands again this weekend when they try to improve to 5-1 against Minnesota. The trips have given Doss a first-hand look at the offense, one that figures to once again have Kellen Lewis running the show next fall.
"The offense is really explosive, and I like how they air the ball out," Doss said. "It's a great thought to play in that offense. It's my dream."
That's one of the big reasons why Doss committed so early, accepting IU's scholarship offer in June. While he said he does still hear from a few coaches who inquire about just how solid his commitment is to the Hoosiers, Doss said there's no cause for concern.
"I tell (the IU coaches) that they don't have anything to worry about," Doss said. "There's nothing that can change my mind."
If there's one source of disappointment for Doss, it's that he likely won't be joined by a couple of his high school teammates in IU uniforms. Indiana was recruiting both Gray and athlete Lavarus Williams, but Williams committed Central Michigan and Gray has been looking more closely at programs such as Minnesota and Oregon, among others.
Doss had hoped that he'd be one of three Ben Davis players arriving in Bloomington next fall, but he's come to grips with the fact that won't happen.
"I thought we'd go together," Doss said. "It would be fun to still play with them, but they had to do their own thing."
And Doss continues to do his. For Ben Davis that will involve running the ball quite a bit on Friday nights, but at the next level he knows he's best suited to be on the receiving end of throws from Lewis and other future Hoosier quarterbacks.
"I love wide receiver," Doss said. "With my size, I'm not a real big physical person, but I'm taller and have the agility to get in and out of cuts. I think that makes wide receiver the best fit for me."
And Indiana the best as well.
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