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Jason Spriggs, Jordan Howard and Nate Sudfeld aren’t the only Hoosiers who have found NFL homes.
Offensive lineman Jake Reed, tight end Michael Cooper and defensive tackle Darius Latham have all reached agreements with organizations after going unselected during Saturday’s final rounds of the NFL Draft.
Cooper, a former walk-on, will join Sudfeld in Washington. Cooper earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors as a senior after making 17 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns. A former Arizona transfer, Cooper appeared in 48 career games and made 14 starts at Indiana.
Latham, a Big Ten honorable mention selection as a junior last season, landed with Oakland. The North Central product decided in late December that he would forego his final year of college eligibility and declare for the draft. He finished his IU career with 81 tackles, 31 solo stops, 7.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss.
Reed, a versatile lineman, reached an agreement with Atlanta, the home of former IU running back Tevin Coleman. The Columbus native appeared in 40 career games between center and guard. He started all 13 games at center during his senior year.
The next step in the draft process for Troy Williams is clear.
Williams has been invited to the NBA Draft Combine next month, his uncle Boo Williams told The Herald-Times on Saturday. The Indiana forward declared for the NBA draft earlier this month.
The combine is an invitation-only event, held May 10-15 in Chicago. Players who have declared for the draft have 10 days from the conclusion of the combine to decide whether they will remain in the field or return to school. Williams has not hired an agent and still holds a year of eligibility should he wish to return to IU.
According to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Saturday, former IU point guard Yogi Ferrell is an alternate participant for the combine.
Nate Sudfeld became the third Indiana player drafted this weekend, going to the Washington Redskins in the sixth round.
Sudfeld, the No. 187 overall selection, was the 11th quarterback selected — and the fourth from the Big Ten, joining Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Ohio State’s Cardale Jones.
Indiana now has three draft selections for the first time since 2010.
Sudfeld is the first IU quarterback drafted since the Redskins took Gibran Hamdan in the seventh round in 2003. The Modesto, Calif. native is the 12th Hoosier taken by Washington, which also selected tight end Ted Bolser in 2014.
Sudfeld is expected to battle for a backup role in training camp. The Redskins have Kirk Cousins playing under the franchise tag this season, and recently resigned backup Colt McCoy.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay said he graded Sudfeld as the eighth-best quarterback in the draft class.
“The more I watched him, the more I appreciated him and really thought he had a chance to make it to the next level,” McShay said. “Now, he’s inconsistent and he’s really gotta become more consistent with his footwork and work on that, but he makes throws that a lot of the guys I studied this year can’t make. He’s got that big time arm, he gets the ball out quickly, he’s not mobile and he’s never going to be a running threat by any stretch of the imagination, but what he does is he creates some tiny pockets and can maneuver just a little bit as a big quarterback inside the pocket to buy himself a little bit of extra time.
“As the rush is coming on, he does a nice job with his feet. He’s not going to extend a lot of plays, but he does a really nice job with his feet of finding extra time in the pocket. He took a lot of hits over his career. He has a 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. This guy played a lot of football at a high level. Very productive. I think he’s got a chance to be a really good backup in the league.”
Sudfeld finished his college career as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Indiana history. He is first in passing touchdowns (61), passing yardage (7,879), 350-yard games (6), 300-yard games (11), 250-yard games (13), 200-yard games (19), four-touchdown games (5) and three-touchdown games (10).
Sudfeld was named a third team All-Big Ten selection as a senior after leading the league in passing yards per game (297.8; 14th nationally), passing yards (3,573; 21st), total offense per game (293.2; 20th), total offense (3,225; 20th), touchdowns (27; T-21st) passing efficiency (151.0; T-21st), yards per completion (14.5; 4th) and yards per attempt (8.7; T-15th).
This story will be updated.
For the second consecutive year, Indiana has produced an NFL running back.
Jordan Howard went to the Chicago Bears in the fifth round with the No. 150 overall pick, following in the footsteps of Tevin Coleman, who went to Atlanta in the third round last year.
This is the first time since 1992 that Hoosier running backs have been selected in back-to-back drafts. The Phoenix Cardinals selected Anthony Thompson in the second round in 1990, Ernie Thompson went to the Los Angeles Rams in the 12th round in 1991 and the New Orleans Saints selected Vaughn Dunbar in the first round of the 1992 draft.
Howard slipped deeper into the draft’s final day than expected. He was the 10th running back taken after entering the weekend graded as the third-best player at his position, according to NFL.com.
Howard will join a Bears backfield that also features former Michigan State back Jeremy Langford, who enters camp as the heir to former starter Matt Forte. Langford averaged 3.6 yards per carry while rushing for 537 yards as a rookie in 2015.
“This man will be starting this upcoming season,” IU running backs coach Deland McCullough tweeted. “Congrats Jordan!!!! (You) got a lot of fuel for that fire bro.”
Howard earned first team All-Big Ten honors after rushing for 1,213 yards in his one and only season in Bloomington. The former UAB transfer finished second in the Big Ten with 134.8 rushing yards per game, while scoring nine rushing touchdowns.
He became the 11th Hoosier to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in a single season, doing so despite missing 18 quarters due to injury. He suffered an ankle injury in a Week 5 game against Ohio State before missing the final two games of Indiana’s season with a knee injury.
“He’s just got to stay healthy,” ESPN draft analyst Louis Riddick said. “He had his knee scoped at the end of the year. If he can stay on the field, though, he’s a bull in the backfield.”
Speaking with reporters at the NFL Combine in February, Howard acknowledged that the short shelf life of NFL running backs factored into his decision to declare for the draft after his junior year. After dealing with a series of injuries during his lone season with the Hoosiers, Howard aimed to start his professional career while his stock remained high.
“You talk about an aggressive, hard-nosed runner, he takes it right at a defense, north-south. This is Jordan Howard,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “The issue is going to be durability with that style.”
This story will be updated.
Saturday’s series finale between Indiana and Northwestern has been postponed due to rain.
The game has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday. Tickets for Saturday’s contest will be honored then.
Senior right-hander Evan Bell (0-3, 3.77 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Hoosiers.
Indiana has lost another early commitment from its 2017 recruiting class.
Four-star athlete Lynn Bowden announced Saturday that he has decommitted from IU, citing “unforeseen circumstances.”
Bowden, who gave the Hoosiers a verbal pledge in late February, was the jewel of the 2017 class. He was seen as a running back at Indiana, but may have also factored into the passing game. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound prospect is considered the No. 3 prospect in the state of Ohio and a top-100 player nationally, according to 247 Sports.
“I would like to thank Indiana University community for the love and support,” Bowden wrote in a message posted to his Instagram account. “As you all know I committed in February to IU. It was (my) attention to play at IU but God has a different plan. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I am reopening my recruitment.”
Indiana was reportedly the first school to offer Bowden.
“I thought that was a shockingly good early commitment,” Scout.com analyst Allen Trieu said last month. “That was a guy who I think was going to get more offers. I think an Ohio State offer was a possibility, but even looking at the programs that Indiana beat for him this early in the process — Tennessee, West Virginia, Michigan and Kentucky had all offered — so for Indiana to get a kid of that caliber this early in the process I thought was outstanding and surprising.”
IU, which also lost three-star receiver Josh Johnson to Iowa State in late March, has three players pledged for 2017. That list includes Avon linebacker Bryant Fitzgerald, Carmel defensive end Britt Beery and Florida offensive tackle Tyler Knight — each of whom are considered three-star prospects.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has said in the past that he expects this to be one of the smallest signing classes during his tenure in Bloomington and may not exceed 20 signees.
Tyler Lass was trying to pitch around Craig Dedelow, but the Hoosier outfielder swung anyway.
With the winning run waiting at third base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Dedelow’s choice to hack didn’t go over well in the Indiana dugout — at least not initially.
But after Dedelow turned a questionable decision into the signature moment of Indiana’s 4-3 walk-off win — and doubleheader sweep — over Northwestern, there was room for jocularity.
“I went from cussing at him to cheering for him,” Lemonis said with a smile.
That’s because Dedelow made the most of his dribbler to the right side of the infield. Given the stakes of the moment, with runners on the corners and the game on the line, Lemonis would’ve preferred a more nuanced approach. The first pitch from Lass arrived far outside the strike zone, making the Wildcat reliever’s intentions clear.
So when Dedelow swung at an off-speed pitch below his knees on the next offering, Lemonis was incredulous.
“I had walked back to the bat rack because I knew they were pitching around Dedes and he swung at a changeup in the dirt,” Lemonis said. “I was probably mad at Craig and then he ends up hitting the game-winner.”
Indeed, Dedelow hustled down the line as first baseman Zach Jones fielded the ball and made a hurried flip to Lass, who was covering the bag. It was a bang-bang play that never connected, as the ball popped in and out of the pitcher’s glove in a moment of panic. It allowed Tony Butler to score easily from third, give the Hoosiers (25-16, 10-4 Big Ten) a come-from-behind win that seemed unlikely only a couple innings earlier.
After edging Northwestern, 2-1, in the opener of Friday’s doubleheader, Indiana’s bats struggled to get anything going against Wildcats starter Joe Schindler, who retired 15 in a row midway through the nightcap.
Although, truthfully, the Hoosiers had an uneven day at the plate between both games, getting out-hit 10-5 in the first game before rallying late and producing five of their nine hits during the final two innings against the Wildcats (10-32, 2-15).
“We just weren’t great offensively today,” Lemonis said. “I don’t know why, but we played good defense and pitched. That’s usually our thing. They let us hang around and we had some good at-bats late.” (more…)
As he watched the television and anticipated the phone call that would change his life, Jason Spriggs tried not to get lost in the wait.
Viewed as a potential first-round talent, the former Indiana left tackle was left to go to bed Thursday with his future on hold for yet another day. But what happened Friday made the suspense worth the trouble.
The Green Bay Packers selected Spriggs in the second round with the 48th overall pick, sending him to a winning organization that values outstanding play up front.
“It was indescribable how excited I was to be part of such an organization and have an organization believe in me that they wanted to pick me up and bring me onto the club,” Spriggs said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “There are no words to describe the feeling.”
Green Bay traded up to get in position to land Spriggs, swapping the No. 57 overall pick, along with a fourth- and seventh-round selection to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 48 overall pick.
Spriggs, who was believed to be a late-first round option for a handful of teams late Thursday night, is the highest Hoosier draft pick since the St. Louis Rams selected tackle Rodger Saffold with the first pick of the second round in 2010. Spriggs is the ninth Hoosier selected by the Packers and the first since defensive back Jimmy Thomas in 1983.
Though it required an extra day of waiting, Spriggs is happy to have his new home decided.
“There were some teams that had me graded in the second round and maybe sneaking into the first, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference per se,” Spriggs said. “For me, that’s not where most of my attention is. I just wanted to get to a club that I fit well in.” (more…)
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When his older brother speaks, Trendon Watford listens.
To navigate the prep basketball landscape as a burgeoning Division I prospect, Watford knows he needs guidance. In his brother Christian — a former Indiana University standout — Watford has an accomplished mentor.
“He’s been through the college level, the NBA level (and) he’s been through the professional level,” Watford said. “He just tells me it’s going to be hard and you have to keep working every day, day in, day out.”
So that’s what Watford is doing, challenging himself this spring and summer as one of the few freshmen playing big boy basketball on the Nike EYBL circuit. Flanked by players two years older and more physically mature than him, Watford is receiving an early lesson in what it takes to follow his brother’s path to basketball’s next level.
His quest for development and notoriety brought him to Indiana last weekend, where his Alabama Challenge 17U squad tipped off against prospects from across the country at Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse in Westfield. In seven EYBL games this spring, Watford is averaging 14.1 points and six rebounds, while shooting 34 percent from 3-point range.
Seated in the front row for his games was Christian, who watched his younger brother start to make a name for himself against more experienced competition as his freshman year of high school comes to a close.
“It’s tough,” Christian said. “He played up last year, but (there’s) the difference between 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds. Doesn’t seem much. It’s a year, but it’s really like, just a lot of guys mature from 16 to 17 more than 15 to 16. He struggled with it a little early, but now he’s getting the hang of it. That’s all it is — strength, speed, size. That’s all it is at the end of the day.”
Already, the younger Watford has the size, skill and projectable frame that has Division I programs interested. (more…)
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Former Indiana guard Jess Walter is no longer headed to Northern Kentucky following the departure of head coach Dawn Plitzuweit.
The University of South Dakota announced today it had hired Plitzuweit, who was formerly an assistant at Michigan. One of the top reasons Walter chose Northern Kentucky was because Plitzuweit had recruited her out of high school in Midland, Mich.
“I wanted to announced that I am reopening my recruitment once again, due to Coach Dawn accepting a position elsewhere,” Walter posted on Twitter. “Thank you to Coach Dawn and the staff at NKU for the opportunity. I am still very excited about what the future holds, and I know God has a plan for me through this season of change.”
The day after IU was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, Walter announced her intent to transfer. She averaged 2.8 points in 16.4 minutes per game in 2015-16, struggling early in the season after suffering a concussion in practice.
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