April 1, 2009
Marcus Thigpen and his 631 rushing yards are gone, but Indiana does return a quartet of players who raced for a combined 123 yards per game in 2008. Kellen Lewis finished second on the club with 500 rushing yards, a 5.4 average, 50.0 yards per game and three touchdowns.
Fifth-year senior running back Bryan Payton finished third on the team with 339 yards and a 4.3 average with two scores. In his career, Payton owns 756 yards, 184 attempts, a 4.1 average and six TDs.
Junior Demetrius McCray rushed for 214 yards on 59 carries (3.6 average) and two touchdowns. The Brandon, Fla., native has 672 career yards on 169 attempts, good for a 4.0 average, and has crossed the goal line four times.
After redshirting last year, former Franklin Central standout Darius Willis is poised to display the talent that made him one of the highest-rated recruits in the state two seasons ago. Willis showed off those skills en route to earning 2008 co-offensive scout team player of the year honors. Willis rushed for 1,728 yards (6.0 average) and 28 scores and was runner-up for Indiana Mr. Football his senior campaign. He collected all-state, All-Marion County and all-conference honors and was rated the 41st-best running back nationally by Scout.com and Rivals.com.
Sophomore Zach Davis-Walker debuted in 2008 following a redshirt season with 106 yards and a 4.6 average. He carried the ball 23 times and scored one touchdown.
Junior Trea Burgess, who contributed 54 yards last year, will move to linebacker during spring practice and sophomore walk-on Shawn Major-Winston will also get carries this spring.
The Hoosiers broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark (2,003) for the second straight year in 2008, the first time since 2000-01 an IU team produced back-to-back 2,000-yard rushing seasons. Indiana averaged 4.5 yards per carry and carded 19 rushing scores, its best numbers since 2001 (5.5, 33), and the team rushed for over 250 yards four times with a season-best 297 yards in its season-opening win over Western Kentucky.