Bloomington – Two players have been missing from IU football practice the last several days, and one is gone for good.
IU Coach Bill Lynch confirmed that freshman offensive lineman A.J. Thompson has left the team and has decided to transfer, while freshman wide receiver Tandon Doss has been forced to leave camp while IU waits for his eligibility status to be sorted out by the NCAA's Eligibility Center.
The 6-2, 305-pound Thompson was one of two members of the '08 class to enroll early, arriving on campus in January so he could go through spring drills. He had an extended opportunity to show off his skills in the spring due to the plethora of injuries to members of the offensive line, but he decided to leave the program earlier in camp.
"He decided to transfer, and I don't know exactly where right now," Lynch said of the Lakeland, Fla., product. "We've talked about some places so we can help him out. But he hasn't decided where yet."
While Thompson's IU career appears over, Doss' is on hold. The 6-3, 185-pound wideout from Indianapolis' Ben Davis H.S. has been held out of practice since last Friday due to the academic issue, and he's now had to leave camp while IU awaits word from the NCAA's Eligibility Center on his status.
Until the Eligibility Center clears Doss to return to practice, IU cannot have him as one of the 105 members of the team who they are allowed to pay for during camp.
"Where he is in the system, he has to leave camp," Lynch said. "That's why he isn't here. That's why we're going to know something pretty soon so we can get him back here."
Lynch said IU is also still waiting to hear back from the NCAA on its appeal on Jerimy Finch.
- in Doss' absence, another freshman wide receiver has started turning heads – Demarlo Belcher. The 6-5, 210-pounder from Ft. Wayne's North Side H.S. was the last member of IU's 2008 class, but he's been doing enough as of late in camp to insert his name into the mix of freshmen who might play this season.
Belcher made a handful of big plays during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, including an acrobatic catch with the No. 1 offense against Chris Phillips. After Wednesday's practice, Lynch said Belcher had arguably his best day of camp.
"He's a good talent," Lynch said. "He wants to learn, he wants to know the offense, and he wants to do things right. He does have that ability when the ball is in the air to go make a play, and he made several today."
- the injury situation was a little bit better Wednesday. Joe Kleinsmith and Jammie Kirlew were both back to full contact after dealing with ankle injuries, and left guard Pete Saxon was back in a limited capacity as well. After practice Saxon said he might be back to full contact in the next day or two. Both Ray Fisher and Geno Johnson (leg) were held out of practice Wednesday, but they are listed as day-to-day.
- the Hoosiers finished practice with a lively overtime scenario – four different offensive units were given the ball at the 25-yard line. None of the four drives went for touchdowns, with three ending with field goals.
Kellen Lewis was the first on the field, and he didn't get much help from his receiving corps as Brandon Walker-Roby and Terrance Turner both dropped balls to force Austin Starr to kick a 42-yard field goal.
Teddy Schell then led the No. 3s, which went three-and-out, and Nick Ford tied things up with a 41-yard field goal of his own. On the third offensive set, Adam Follett was sacked by Ryan Marando on a third down which forced Ford to attempt a 49-yard field goal, which he bounced off the left upright.
Austin Starr wound up winning the period for his team on the final offensive set. After Donnell Jones forced Demetrius McCray out of bounds on a 3rd-and-short, Starr fended off a boisterous opposing sideline to boot a 39-yard field goal to give his team the victory.
"The grind of camp can get to you. that's why if you can make it competitive, kids like doing that," Lynch said of the overtime session.
- both quarterbacks were extremely sharp during 7-on-7 – Lewis was 7-of-8 with touchdown throws to Turner and Belcher, while Ben Chappell was 10-of-13 with a couple of TDs of his own.
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