After a season that saw the Hoosiers drop to the cellar of the Big Ten, they need a reload. At least in terms of personnel, Indiana has done so, flipping over its depth chart at nearly every position.

IU is likely to have new starters at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, running back, on the defensive line and at linebacker. Only the offensive line and secondary were safe from sweeping changes. In all, the Hoosiers have only 4 starters returning on offense — all on the line — and 7 on defense.

A few weeks ago, coach Tom Allen was asked what is on the minds of many: Which is the outlier, the Hoosiers’ 2020 season in which they won 6-of-8 games to become one of the surprises of the Big Ten? Or the ’21 season, when IU lost all 9 of its league games and was only 2-10 overall?

There aren’t yet many answers, as Allen chose to keep training camp largely closed to media and the public.

Let’s take a look at what we know about IU’s depth chart ahead of the Hoosiers’ opener vs. Illinois:


Allen has made his choice for the Hoosiers’ Game 1 starting quarterback, but he’s not letting the public know. They’ll find out Friday, when IU lines up against Illinois in Memorial Stadium.

Likely, though, QB1 is Missouri junior transfer Connor Bazelak, assuming he edged out senior Jack Tuttle. The two were thought to be in a close battle for the starting job, and their similarities — they’re both pocket passers — likely made for a difficult decision. But Bazelak’s experience at Missouri, where he threw for 16 touchdowns last season, but also 11 interceptions and lost his job before the bowl game, likely puts him over the top.

IU also saw a 3rd player enter the conversation during camp, when sophomore Dexter Williams II brought extra juice to the position as a change-up option. Williams, who redshirted last season after an ACL injury in the spring, is unlikely to be in the conversation as a starter, but could occasionally give the Hoosiers a different look as a Wildcat-like QB.

Running back

The Hoosiers will have an entire new look in their backfield, and that’s probably an upgrade.

Maybe one of the biggest disappointments last season was Indiana’s inability to get its ground game going. So the transfer portal was a priority, and the Hoosiers brought in 2: Auburn’s Shaun Shivers and North Carolina’s Josh Henderson. Both will get carries, but it’s thought that Shivers might be the starter, considering the ability he showed as a backup for the Tigers. There, he accumulated more than 1,000 yards on a 5.1 yards-per-carry average, with 8 touchdowns, in 4 years. He’s a smaller back, about 5-7, 186 pounds, but has burst and isn’t shy about contact. Henderson is a bigger, potentially more physical option at 5-11, 215, who will get snaps as well.

The duo wants to help IU climb out of the depths of the Big Ten in rushing offense, where it finished 12th last season, averaging less than 115 yards per game on only 3.2 per carry.

Wide receivers

Indiana is in a search for playmakers on the perimeter.

Whether it’s found any isn’t yet answered, at least publicly. But it has players trying to fill those critical voids, like slot man DJ Matthews, who showed briefly at the beginning of last season that he could be a major factor for the Hoosiers before a knee injury took him off the field. He’s back now, and likely to be a frequent target.

But what of the rest?

Junior Javon Swinton is likely to see an increased role, after he caught 15 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown last season, making him the leading returning receiver. Although he hasn’t yet shown it in his career, Swinton could be a down-field target, largely because of his frame at 6-2, 190 pounds.

Indiana brought in others to compete for roles, like Cam Camper (Trinity Community College), Emery Simmons (North Carolina) and Andison Coby (Tennessee). But it might have been a positional newcomer who made the biggest splash in training camp; former quarterback Donaven McCulley is in the wide receiver room and has adjusted to the position quicker than anyone could have imagined. The 6-5, 210-pounder might be the most athletically gifted of all the Hoosiers’ options.

Tight end

Even though longtime starter Peyton Henderson is departed, Indiana feels good about its tight ends.

Junior AJ Barner is likely to be the starter, after he had 14 receptions for 162 yards, making a gigantic play against Idaho with a 76-yard touchdown. Indiana’s quarterback shouldn’t have trouble finding him in the middle of the field, with Barner being a 6-6 and 250-plus.

The backups don’t have much experience at Indiana. James Bomba transferred in to Indiana after spending a year at Miami (Ohio), where he redshirted. Redshirt freshman Aaron Steinfeldt could also figure into the mix.

Offensive line

One of the biggest disappointments for the Hoosiers last season, among a slew of them, was the performance of the offensive line.

It was average at best, in pass protection and run blocking, and so it’s been a big-time priority for an upgrade in 2022. The good: Indiana has 5 players back this season who have starting experience. The bad: Many are the same players who under-performed last season.

Seniors Luke Haggard and Matthew Bedford might man the tackle positions, with juniors Mike Katic and Tim Weaver at guards. Junior Zach Carpenter, who transferred from Michigan before the ’21 season, is likely to get the nod at center. If that’s the 5-some, then it’ll take on Illinois with a combined 57 games of starting experience.

Now, IU can only hope that the unit plays to its experience level. As is frequently the case on the offensive line, depth is an issue; for the most part, IU has underclassmen on the second unit.

Defensive line

The Hoosiers need more production from their front four.

It almost goes without saying because the numbers speak for themselves. Indiana’s defensive line accounted for only 5.5 sacks in ’21, and while that’s only one statistic, it’s indicative of a bigger problem. Allen tried to address the issue in the offseason, making the defensive line a priority of the transfer portal, with the biggest gets being Cal’s JH Tevis and Ole Miss’s LeDarrius Cox. They were brought in to help with a lack of depth on the interior of the D-line, where Indiana will also try to get production from veteran Demarcus Elliott.

Seniors James Head Jr. and Alfred Bryant might be starters on the edge, although the 2 combined for only 2.5 tackles for loss last season. IU needs more edge rushers, but none of the other options are known products.


Senior Cam Jones is ready for his starring role. After playing sidekick to Micah McFadden for the last several years, Jones moves up to No. 1. And he’s eager for it, after a season that saw him make 64 tackles, 2 for loss with a sack and a fumble recovery.

But Jones is going to need some help. Former Miami linebacker Bradley Jennings Jr. transferred in to Bloomington and could earn a starting role if he stays healthy. That was an issue for the athlete in the ACC. He’s spent camp competing with senior Aaron Casey, who had 25 tackles in a reserve role last season.

Defensive backs

Indiana has the goods to be good in its defensive backfield.

Former All-American Tiawan Mullen looks to return to form after an injury-plagued season. In the shortened 2020 season, he was great, collecting 3 interceptions and 3.5 sacks. Fellow cornerback Jaylin Williams is solid, too, with a current team-best 6 career interceptions. The transfer to Purdue of nickel back — and spot starter — Reese Taylor hurts, because it saps the Hoosiers of experience in their 2-deep.

At safety, Indiana has 2 more seniors: Bryant Fitzgerald and Devon Matthews, who are one of the better duos in the Big Ten East. Last season, they combined for nearly 100 tackles, including 9.5 for loss. But again, like seemingly every position for the Hoosiers, there’s a ton of questions about the depth.

Look for senior Noah Pierre to play IU’s extra DB position, after he had 36 tackles and a pick last season.