First Look at Indiana's Depth Chart for 2021, and the Surprises That Come With It

Indiana released its first football depth chart of the season over the weekend, and there were a few surprises. Several transfers have made an immediate impact thus far.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana released its 2021 media guide over the weekend at the Big Ten Media Days event, and a nice little surprise was that it included the first depth chart of the season, which doesn't usually happen.

Indiana coach Tom Allen isn't real big on naming starters early, because there are still plenty of jobs to be won during fall camp this year. But it's nice to see this first depth chart nonetheless, because it makes for great talking points.

A lot of them, actually.

Here's the depth chart, as of July 25. It includes jersey number, name, height, weight and year of eligibility: 

(Note: IU Athletics advanced players eligibility forward as normal in 2020-21. Any extra seasons of eligibility awarded due to COVID-19 will be recognized following a player’s regular senior season. A “+” will be added to indicate the extra season.  The "R'' includes a redshirt season.)

Indiana offense preseason depth chart

  • QUARTERBACK
  • 9 Michael Penix Jr., 6-3, 218, Junior-R
  • 14 Jack Tuttle, 6-4, 212, Junior-R
  • RUNNING BACK
  • 20 Tim Baldwin Jr., 6-0, 211, Sophomore
  • 6 Sampson James, 6-1, 220, Junior
  • 5 Stephen Carr, 6-1, 215, Graduate+
  • 10 David Ellis, 6-1, 214, Junior
  • WIDE RECEIVER
  • 13 Miles Marshall, 6-4, 212, Junior-R
  • 18 Javon Swinton, 6-2, 187, Sophomore
  • WIDE RECEIVER
  • 7 D.J. Matthews Jr., 5-11, 160, Graduate+
  • 12 Da’Shaun Brown, 6-2, 180, Sophomore-R
  • WIDE RECEIVER
  • 3 Ty Fryfogle, 6-2, 205, Senior+
  • 2 Jacolby Hewitt, 6-1, 198, Junior-R
  • TIGHT END
  • 86 Peyton Hendershot, 6-4, 254, Senior-R
  • 89 Matt Bjorson, 6-3, 241, Senior
  • 88 AJ Barner, 6-6, 245, Sophomore 
  • LEFT TACKLE
  • 77 Caleb Jones, 6-8, 362, Senior-R
  • 70 Luke Haggard, 6-7, 305, Senior
  • LEFT GUARD
  • 56 Mike Katic, 6-4, 312, Sophomore-R
  • 73 Tim Weaver, 6-6, 315, Sophomore-R
  • CENTER
  • 50 Zach Carpenter, 6-5, 320, Sophomore-R 
  • 79 Charlie O’Connor, 6-2, 303, Junior-R 
  • 62 Cameron Knight, 6-3, 281, Freshman-R 
  • RIGHT GUARD
  • 72 Dylan Powell, 6-3, 310, Graduate 
  • 71 Randy Holtz, 6-7, 340, Freshman-R
  • RIGHT TACKLE
  • 76 Matthew Bedford, 6-6, 310, Junior 
  • 66 Aidan Rafferty, 6-6, 298, Junior-R

Indiana defense preseason depth chart

  • DEFENSIVE END
  • 10 Ryder Anderson, 6-6, 266, Graduate+
  • 6 James Head Jr., 6-5, 262, Senior
  • DEFENSIVE TACKLE
  • 94 Demarcus Elliott, 6-3, 307, Senior
  • 99 Weston Kramer, 6-2, 290, Graduate+ 
  • DEFENSIVE TACKLE
  • 50 Sio Nofoagatoto’a, 6-3, 315, Junior
  • 55 C.J. Person, 6-3, 292, Sophomore-R
  • BULL
  • 92 Alfred Bryant, 6-2, 250, Senior-R
  • 87 Michael Ziemba, 6-3, 260, Senior+ 
  • 13 Jaren Handy, 6-6, 255, Junior 
  • 42 D.K. Bonhomme, 6-3, 235, Junior
  • LINEBACKER
  • 47 Micah McFadden, 6-2, 232, Senior 
  • 8 James Miller, 6-2, 223, Junior-R 
  • 44 Thomas Allen, 6-3, 240, Senior-R
  • LINEBACKER
  • 4 Cam Jones, 6-3, 224, Senior 
  • 46 Aaron Casey, 6-2, 228, Junior-R
  • HUSKY
  • 9 Marcelino McCrary-Ball, 6-0, 214, Senior-R+ 
  • 31 Bryant Fitzgerald, 6-0, 208, Senior-R
  • CORNERBACK
  • 23 Jaylin Williams, 6-0, 182, Senior 
  • 2 Reese Taylor, 5-11, 185, Senior
  • CORNERBACK
  • 3 Tiawan Mullen, 5-10, 180, Junior 
  • 7 Christopher Keys, 6-0, 185, Freshman-R
  • SAFETY
  • 1 Devon Matthews, 6-2, 205, Senior 
  • 19 Josh Sanguinetti, 6-1, 185, Sophomore-R
  • SAFETY
  • 0 Raheem Layne, 6-1, 200, Senior-R 
  • 5 Juwan Burgess, 6-1, 199, Senior-R 

Indiana special teams preseason depth chart

  • PLACEKICKER
  • 93 Charles Campbell, 5-9, 175, Junior-R
  • 80 Chris Freeman, 6-2, 190, Freshman-R 
  • KICKOFFS
  • 90 Jared Smolar, 5-11, 221, Senior-R+ 
  • 93 Charles Campbell, 5-9, 175, Junior-R 
  • 80 Chris Freeman, 6-2, 190, Freshman-R
  • PUNTER
  • 94 James Evans, 6-1, 222, Freshman 
  • 92 Chase Wyatt, 5-11, 196, Sophomore-R
  • LONG SNAPPER
  • 95 Sean Wracher, 6-4, 200, Junior 
  • 97 Jake Wellmann, 6-1, 225, Freshman-R
  • HOLDER
  • H 92 Chase Wyatt, 5-11, 196, Sophomore-R 
  • 90 Jared Smolar, 5-11, 221, Senior-R+
  • KICK RETURNER
  • 10 David Ellis, 6-1, 214, Junior 
  • 2 Jacolby Hewitt, 6-1, 198, Junior-R
  • PUNT RETURNER
  • Reese Taylor, 5-11, 185, Senior 
  • 7 D.J. Matthews Jr., 5-11, 160, Graduate+ 

Here are three things that jumped out at me quickly:

1. Newcomers making instant impact

Indiana was aggressive in the transfer portal this winter, filling gaps in their roster with players from Power 5 schools who could step in an help immediately. It's very clear from the first depth chart that several already have made great first impressions.

On defense, Ole Miss transfer Ryder Anderson is listed as the starter at defensive end, ahead of Hoosiers veteran James Head Jr. And on offense, Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews is listed as a starter at wide receiver and Michigan transfer Zach Carpenter is listed as Indiana's starting center. Former Texas A&M wide receiver Camron Buckley isn't listed on the depth chart, but he's sure to play a role, as well.

True freshman James Evans is listed as Indiana's starting punter. The New Zealand native is the only true freshman on the preseason depth chart.

Northern Illinois transfer Weston Kramer is listed as a second-team defensive tackle and Auburn transfer Jaren Handy is listed third at the ''Bull'' position, a hybrid defensive end spot. 

USC transfer running back Stephen Carr is listed No. 3 at that position, but that's going to be a battle to watch all preseason. It's going to be interesting to see how the carries get distributed on the team this year.

2. Interior line spots still up for grabs?

Indiana is intent on having a better running game this season, and a lot of that starts up front. Caleb Jones and Matthew Bedford are established starters at the tackle spots, and it's going to be interesting to see how playing time settles out at the three interior spots.

Carpenter, a Cincinnati native who got two starts at center last year for Michigan before transferring, is the leader to start at center for now, and it's the first time in a while that Indiana has a lot of depth at all those interior lineman spots. Mike Katic and Dylan Powell are the presumed starters at guard, but Tim Weaver, Randy Holtz, Charlie O'Connor and Cameron Knight all seem primed to be key contributors, as well. 

There's no question that offensive line coach Darren Hiller will have a lot of tough evaluating to do throughout fall camp. This five-man unit needs to gel as one quickly, especially with a tough season opener at Iowa looming on the horizon.

3. Any real depth concerns?

Tom Allen said Friday that this is the deepest team he's ever had at Indiana, and there's plenty of truth to that. Especially on defense, when you run down the names of the second-team guys, most of them are very capable of being starters and all of them will see plenty of action every week in different packages.

Despite the positive vibes, there's always something to worry about, right? Let's not forget that punter James Evans, the true freshman, has never played in a football game of any kind. He will need to adapt quickly.

You always worry about the tackle positions too on offense, especially since they're critical in protecting the quarterback. You worry about the depth there a little bit behind Jones and Bedford, but Luke Haggard showed some good things a year ago. I've been told I shouldn't worry about this, but I always will until I know for sure.

Lastly, of course, is the quarterback position. On the depth chart you've got Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle, which is great on paper. Even though Penix is sure he will be 100 percent reovered from his second ACL surgery by the Sept. 4 opener, there's still always reason for concern.

I don't worry about Tuttle, because he won a Big Ten game at Wisconsin a year ago and fought through injuries in both his starts, so we know he's a tough kid. It's after those two where there's a huge drop-off because Dexter Williams tore his ACL in the spring and is out for the year. If Indiana needs a third QB this year – and let's hope it never comes to that – it's likely they would have to turn to true freshman Donaven McCulley from Lawrence North. 

He's a summertime arrival because he played high school basketball, so his learning curve will need to be accelerated if anything happened to Penix or Tuttle. It's unlikely that happens, but you never know.