Skip to main content
Publish date:

Indiana's Running Back Shortage: Who Will Step Up Behind Stephen Carr?

Indiana running back David Ellis is out for the season after ankle surgery, and in the past two months, both Sampson James and Tim Baldwin Jr. have entered the transfer portal. So now it's a scramble to see who emerges behind Stephen Carr in Indiana's running backs room.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Running back Stephen Carr quickly worked his way up the depth chart after arriving at Indiana from USC this summer. And all those guys he passed on the way? They're falling by the wayside quickly, and it has created serious concerns with depth at the position.

On Monday, Indiana coach Tom Allen announced that running back David Ellis is done for the season after undergoing ankle surgery. He's been bothered by the injury all year, and it just never got better.

Ellis' departure, along with sophomore Tim Baldwin Jr. entering the transfer portal last week, is testing Indiana's depth at the position. Junior Sampson James, the presumed starter coming into the season, transferred to Purdue back in August after quickly falling down Indiana's depth chart.

"Yeah, it definitely looks different than it did in the beginning, and it's not what we expected to look like after five games," Allen said Monday. "Obviously circumstances are not what anyone expected. But opportunity presents itself, and when it does, you've got to seize it and be ready for it.''

Carr has been steady as the starter, rushing for 386 yards on 102 carries, and scoring three touchdowns through the first five games.

Baldwin, a sophomore from Nokesville, Va., was his primary backup, but he had a huge fumble at the 2-yard line in a loss to No. 3-ranked Cincinnati, and then fumbled again the following week at Western Kentucky. When he only got one carry — for a 1-yard gain — against Penn State, he decided to enter the transfer portal the following week.

Read More

With Ellis, who is a dual threat as a receiver as well, out for the year, others will have to step up. Davion Ervin-Poindexter, a junior from Merrillville, Ind., has had eight carries thus far, and Chris Childers has seven. 

Allen also mentioned that true freshman David Holloman is ready to step up.

"David Holloman, to me, is a guy that needs to step up, and he's a true freshman," Allen said. "He's been working with our ones and twos the last few practices. Charlie Spegal — (the walk-on from New Palestine who had a great high school career) — same thing, he's a guy that's been here, a guy that understands our system, can do a lot of different things in that part of it as well."

Allen said Trent Howland, another true freshman, is also a guy that is coming off ACL surgery a year ago after getting injured last December in a basketball game. He's a big, physical guy from Joliet, Ill., and has been getting some reps. 

"We've got guys in that room, and two other guys that have been playing," Allen said. "Davion (Ervin-Poindexter) has been playing quite a bit. He needs to take a step up and elevate, and Chris Childers, too. Those two guys have to continue to grow, and their role will be expanded without question."

Indiana is averaging 122 yards per game rushing thus far, which ranks No. 13 in the Big Ten, ahead of only Purdue (89.4). Carr's 386 yards ranks 10th in the league.

  • CONFIDENCE IN TUTTLE: If Jack Tuttle has to start at quarterback on Saturday for Indiana with Michael Penix Jr. still nursing a shoulder injury, everyone in the Hoosiers' locker room is confidence that Tuttle will play well. CLICK HERE
  • TOM BREW COLUMN: In football, sometimes it's more who you play than how you play. Tom Allen doesn't like losing, but how the Hoosiers have lost has concerned him. Starting the second half off with Michigan State gives the Hoosiers an opportunity to turn their season around quickly. CLICK HERE
  • PENIX STATUS UNCERTAIN: Indiana coach Tom Allen said that quarterback Michael Penix Jr is "still week-to-week'' with a shoulder injury, and confirmed that no updates will be given on his healthy prior to Saturday's kickoff with Michigan State. CLICK HERE
  • OHIO STATE GAME TIME SET: The big Ohio State-Indiana showdown on Oct. 23 in Bloomington will be played under the lights at Memorial Stadium. Here's the game time and TV information. CLICK HERE
  • 5 TEAMS IN AP TOP 10: For the first time ever in the 75-year history of the Associated Press college football poll, there are five Big Ten teams in the top-10, including Iowa at No. 2. Here's the story and the complete top-25 poll. CLICK HERE