Indiana has typically been a team that despite lackluster conference play, provided a challenge for Ohio State football teams in the past. Being one of few teams during the 2014 championship run that left Buckeye fans gasping for breath up until the late-third quarter. The game ended 42-27 in favor of the Buckeyes, but 21 of those 27 points for Indiana was thanks to the heavy footwork of junior, Tevin Coleman.
Coleman, at 5'11, 206 pounds, worked his way through the Indiana roster to cement himself as the leading team rusher and competed for top honors for the entire Big Ten conference. Were it not for a super successful running back class including Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon and, later in the season, Ezekiel Elliott, Coleman would have easily won all the rushing honors for the conference. He did, however, do enough to garner national attention and was taken in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons at No. 73.
His freshman year with the Hoosiers in 2012, required the future stud to play more special teams than offense, but Coleman still collected his first pair of touchdowns, one on a kick return and the other on offense. His sophomore campaign was on track to include his first 1,000 yard season, but he was plagued by an ankle injury that left him sitting out the last three games of the year.
His first two seasons were mere warm-ups for the breakout performance his junior, and final, year at Indiana. In just one season, Coleman amassed 2,036 rushing yards on 270 attempts, scoring 15 touchdowns for the Hoosiers; oh, and he did this while playing through a broken toe the second half of the season. He finished his career with a total of 3,219 rushing yards on 452 attempts for a 7.1 yard per carry average and 28 touchdowns.
It's important to remember, that while he was the most publicized running back on the team, he was not a lone-workhorse. D'Angelo Roberts and Devine Redding put out 493 and 118 yards respectively, in addition to short stints by other backs throughout the season.
Trying to find someone to fill the
1) Jordan Howard, JR
Howard transferred to Indiana following the shocking announcement that UAB was cancelling their football program; a decision which has since been reversed due to the influx of public opinion and monetary donations. The Hoosiers were excited to get the 6'1, 225-pound running back after an impressive two season with the Blazers. During his true freshman year, he rushed for 881 yards on 145 attempts for two touchdowns, in addition to one receiving touchdown that season. Howard really hit his stride last season, rushing for a total of 1,587 yards on 306 attempts and 13 touchdowns, with one more receiving touchdown to tout.
Having transferred from a, at the time, defunct program, Howard will bypass having to sit a year, and can suit up for the Hoosiers right away. He suffered a hyper-extended elbow during spring practices, but is expected to be ready to go by the time camp comes around. The number one running back spot should be Howard's to lose ahead of the season.
"He has enough game experience, even with a different offense," Wilson said of Howard, per 247Sports. "He's proven that he can handle getting hit and preparing and doing it week after week. Still, in our system, that'd be nice to see."
2) Devine Redding, SO
Redding was the number three back behind Coleman and Roberts in 2014, and is one of the more experienced players in the backfield. With Howard and Mister limited this spring, Redding got more reps in practice and during the team's spring game he recorded 13 rushing attempts for 57 yards. Several Indiana outlets suggest Redding is set to be the second back to Howard come the season.
3) Tommy Mister, RS FR
Mister is someone who has been touted as the next heir to the running back throne in Indiana, but his coming out party was thwarted by an ACL injury that left him in surgery and sitting out his freshman year. Coming in as a three-star recruit, hopes were high that he would be able to jump right in, but even after a year away recovering, he was limited again this spring with an ankle injury.
4) Ricky Brookins, RS FR
Brookins is the smallest among the running backs at Indiana; standing at 5'8, 188 pounds. He was an unexpected outcome from the Howard and Mister injuries, creating some buzz following his play during the spring game, rushing for 107 yards on 16 carries. Brookins was a walk-on during the 2014 season and subsequently redshirted his freshman year. He was a stand-out back in high school with 2,017 rushing yards, 27 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns. Hoosiers saw a glimpse of what he can do during the spring game and could get the chance to see him again on Saturday this fall.
5) Andrew Wilson, RS JR
Wilson, no relation to head coach Kevin Wilson, was just awarded an official scholarship in January 2015. He's worked hard as a walk-on to fill in both on offense and special teams. His freshman year, he recorded 45 rushing yards and one touchdown; falling to fifth in the depth chart, he saw playing time his sophomore year during the last four games of the season on special teams.
He's still got two seasons left and intends to be a leader in the locker room and earn some more playing time on offense. "As of right now, my main purpose is running back," Andrew Wilson said, per The Republic. "I'm actually losing some weight to be faster. I will work toward that goal."
6) Alex Rodriguez, RS FR
Rodriguez is another walk-on in this group of running backs, redshirting his freshman year in hopes of a long career. He's been able to get some more practice time with the aforementioned injuries and was able to perform well at the spring game with 63 rushing yards on 12 carries. Rodriguez, while a walk-on, brings impressive high school numbers including 1,303 rushing yards with 21 touchdowns and 333 receiving yards his senior year alone.