Bloomington – Does Indiana have the best stable of pass catchers in the Big Ten?
Quarterback Ben Chappell certainly thinks so, and isn't shy about showing his support for those who are on the receiving end of his throws.
"I don't think there's any question (they're the best in the Big Ten)," Chappell said.
While it's not too often that IU can make such a claim about a skill position, it's hard to question Chappell assessment. The Hoosiers return their top three pass catchers from a season ago – two of whom ranked in the top five in the Big Ten a season in receptions – and add a redshirt freshman who was the crown jewel of the 2009 recruiting class.
Headlining the list is All-Big Ten junior Tandon Doss, who caught 77 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns. Doss established himself as one of the league's most dangerous playmakers in 2009, and Indiana is counting on even bigger things from the Indianapolis product this fall.
"Tandon can do it all," Chappell said. "He's the kind of guy you want to just get the ball to. He's great with the ball in his hands. I think the thing that makes him great is his hands – he catches everything with his hands and they are super strong."
Doss' big sophomore campaign figures to make him a top defensive priority for opposing teams, but Chappell has plenty of other weapons to utilize. Junior Damarlo Belcher (61 catches, 770 yards, 5 TDs) and senior Terrance Turner (46 catches, 433 yards, 1 TD) are also back after starting a season ago.
The 6'5" Belcher is a second player who has shown All-Big Ten capabilities during his time in an IU uniform, giving Chappell a big target that can get behind defensive backs and jump over them in the red zone.
"He can jump through the roof – he's a guy you love to throw it up to and watch him go," Chappell said. "He's also really improved his route running from a year ago."
The unsung member of the starting unit is Turner, but Chappell says he's every bit as important to unit's success.
"Terrance is the leader of the group," Chappell said. "He's a big, strong guy, he loves going over the middle and doesn't mind taking a hit, and I think that makes him unique. He'll do whatever you need – take a hit, lower his shoulder, break a tackle."
That trio will be familiar faces to opposing teams, but the fourth member of the stable of receivers will be a new player to contend with. Redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson is expected to see plenty of time as well and is more than capable of making his share of big plays.
"Duwyce is probably the fastest of all of them," Chappell said. "He's the type of guy I can't overthrow – no matter how far I throw it I can't overthrow him."
That all adds up to the deepest and most complete group of wide receivers that Indiana has had in recent memory, which certainly brings a smile to the face of Chappell.
"It's pretty special," Chappell said. "Those guys have all the talent in the world. It's a lot of fun throwing it to them."
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