The Year of the Redshirt
March 26, 2010
by Jeremy Gray
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Bigger, stronger, smarter, faster. In theory, redshirting football players should make each individual player more of all of those things.
Bill Lynch's redshirting strategy will come into full flower this year and it is one of the biggest stories heading into the 2010 football season. He's betting that after redshirting a slew of key players, the extra year of maturation will provide his team with added depth and make them better equipped to handle the rigors of Big Ten football. I couldn't agree more.
Before I delve into why I think this will prove beneficial for the 2010 Hoosiers, here is a list of just some of the key players for Indiana who have redshirted a year since their arrival in Bloomington:
Tyler Adetona, Chris Adkins, Lawrence Barnett, Leon Beckum, Larry Black, Jr., Ted Bolser, James Brewer, Trea Burgess, Aaron and Adrian Burks, Kevin Bush, Dimitrius Carr-Watson, Ben Chappell, Jamonne Chester, Javon Cornley, Marc Damisch, Max Dedmond, Matt Ernest, Mitch Ewald, Nick Freeland, Josh Hager, Chris Hagerup, Darius Johnson, Donnell Jones, Fred Jones, Dusty Kiel, Deonte Mack, Will Matte, Andrew McDonald, Mick Mentzer, Chad Sherer, Damon Sims, Nicholas Sliger, Eric Thomas, Nick Turner, Terrance Turner, Darius Willis, Duwyce Wilson and Edward Wright-Baker.
What has redshirting done for this IU team? For starters, Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker will only have to sit behind Chappell for one of their eligible years instead of two. It's also a good thing that Terrance Turner and James Brewer were redshirted because they would be working 9 to 5's like the rest of us if they had never redshirted. Anyone else happy that Indiana will have Darius! Willis, Will Matte, and Larry Black, Jr., for three more years instead of two? Me too.
Redshirting adds depth and gives the coaching staff options. It gives student-athletes a year to get acclimated to college life and spend every free moment in the weight room to put on much needed pounds (starters often lose weight over the season). Redshirting also allows players an extra year to learn systems, work on flaws, and gain confidence. In essence, redshirting is trading a fresh out of Senior Prom 19-year-old Darius Willis for a run em' over 23-year old Darius Willis. I'll take the latter.
Indiana has rarely been afforded the luxury of redshirting players en masse. With coaching changes, injury, and shaky recruiting taking their toll, Indiana has been forced to play all of those who can play. Bill Lynch and his staff have recruited and retained solid classes and have opted to redshirt large swaths of players to build for the future.
Well, the future is now. Redshirts will be all over the field for Indiana and the Hoosiers are now operating in a way that is commensurate with most of their opponents in the Big Ten who have employed a similar philosophy for years. I think it will pay off.
Unlike in other sports, the unique physical demands of college football make it difficult for a true freshman to be productive. Again using Willis as an example, he was very good in his redshirt freshman season in 2009, but he had moments where struggled. Had 2008 been his freshman season, Willis would have been smaller, weaker and less confident. I would imagine that he would have had more bad days than good had he played right out of high school.
There will be a lot of discussion about the 3-4 defense, the talented receiving corps, players switching positions, and filling holes on defense this upcoming season. However, I think 2010 will be known as the 'Year of the Redshirt'. Let's see how it plays out.
Check back soon