BORDEN — Indiana football coach Tom Allen is excited about the potential of the school’s incoming 2019 freshman football class.
Allen expects most of the class to be on campus when IU’s summer session begins next week. A second wave of three or four players, Allen said, will come in the next two weeks.
“As is always, we have a couple of guys who have to do some final work, so we’ll know more on them in a couple of weeks,” Allen said before an IU alumni event at Huber’s Winery.
IU’s 2019 class, ranked 37th nationally and eighth in the Big Ten by 247.com, is led by four-star running back Sampson James of Avon, four-star defensive end Beau Robbins of Carmel and four-star outside linebacker Cameron Williams of Merrillville. James is one of five players who enrolled in January, while 17 more signed letters of intent and will arrive this summer. One transfer, Utah quarterback Jack Tuttle, also arrived in January and took part in spring practices.
“Bringing those guys in this summer and getting that recruiting class is exciting,” Allen said. “Just knowing that that’s what we’re going to have to do to be able to be where we want to be, which is to have the quality depth that you need to finish out games and finish out the season.”
Allen said last season a pair of freshmen — linebacker James Miller and wide receiver Miles Marshall — benefitted from a new NCAA rule that allowed players to play in up to four games without burning their redshirt year. Marshall appeared in one game against Rutgers. Miller appeared in three games last season, recording three tackles in a start against Michigan.
“Just kind of showing the skillset that he had the toughness the ability to make plays in that venue as a true freshman, great to be able to let him do that and have four more years,” Allen said.
Allen said quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is continuing to make positive progress in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL, while Tuttle is back to 100 percent after sitting out the spring game due to an illness. Coming out of the spring, Allen feels like the secondary is the strongest and deepest part of his team, while he remains concerned about the depth on his offensive and defensive lines. Allen addressed the defensive line depth somewhat by adding JUCO transfer defensive tackle Demarcus Elliott (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) earlier this month.
“We’ve got some young guys that have got to step up,” Allen said.
Allen was asked about how he intends to keep IU’s running backs happy with their amount of touches. The Hoosiers have established some depth in the backfield, with returning starting running back Stevie Scott (1,137 yards rushing, 10 TDs), sophomore Ronnie Walker Jr. (141 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and James, who rushed for 38 career TDs in high school.
“Keeping everybody happy is probably not the objective,” Allen said. “I think the objective is that we’re successful as a team.”
But Allen later said he understands it will be a balancing act and will rely on running backs coach Mike Hart for feedback on how his position group is progressing on and off the field.
“Coach Hart has to do a great job of helping the guys understand that if you want to be able to touch the football, you better be able to do all the little things right, and if you don’t, someone is going to take to your place,” Allen said. “I think that room is indicative of that.
“It allows us to keep guys fresh. It allows us to keep the wear and tear off their own bodies, which I think is a selling point when you talk about, in recruiting, the days of carrying the ball 30 times a game, that doesn’t happen.”
START TIMES ANNOUNCED
IU announced start times for five of its football games Thursday. IU’s season opener against Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium on Aug. 31 will start at noon and air on CBS Sports Network. Its home opener the following week at Memorial Stadium against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 7 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air on the Big Ten Network.
Other start times announced include Sept. 14 against Ohio State at Memorial Stadium (noon, FOX), Sept. 28 at Michigan State (3:30 or 4 p.m., TV TBD) and the Oct. 12 homecoming game against Rutgers (noon, TV TBD).
IU also announced it will implement tiered pricing for single-game tickets for its six home dates, with youth discounts. Tickets for adults will range from $20-55 for the season opener vs. Eastern Illinois, $50-$105 for the Sept. 14 game against Ohio State, $20-70 for the Sept. 21 game against UConn, $30-70 for the Oct. 12 homecoming against Rutgers, $30-70 for the Nov. 2 game against Northwestern and $50-95 for the Nov. 21 game against Michigan. More info on the tier pricing can be found at iuhoosiers.com.
SOCCER SCHEDULE SET
The IU men’s soccer team released its schedule Thursday. The Hoosiers will open their season Aug. 30 at home against Pittsburgh, one of 10 teams that finished the 2018 season ranked in the RPI Top 50.
Other key non-conference home matchups include a Sept. 1 game against UCLA and a Sept. 17 game against Notre Dame, a rematch of an NCAA quarterfinal matchup IU won 1-0 last season.
IU junior lefty Andrew Saalfrank was named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball on Thursday. Saalfrank (8-1, 2.56 ERA, 96 K in 69.2 IP) is IU’s first All-American pitcher since Joey DeNato in 2014.
IU (36-21) opens NCAA Tournament play in the Louisville Regional against Illinois State on Friday at 2 p.m. at Jim Patterson Stadium.