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Part 2 – The championship years: Andy Graham sits down with legendary IU Soccer Coach Jerry Yeagley to discuss the national championship seasons.
Indiana isn’t where it wants to be, but it is getting closer.
And wins like the one the Hoosiers pulled off Sunday bode well for their capacity to get there.
They withstood a Northwestern gut punch in the top of the seventh inning, shrugging off five Wildcat runs, including a go-ahead grand slam by cleanup hitter Joe Hoscheit. Then they swung back, plating two runs during an opportunistic bottom half and running off with a 7-6 victory at Bart Kaufman Field.
“We’re like a Rocky movie,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “We just keep getting punched and knocked down and we fight back. It’s kind of been the way we’ve played all year. It says a lot about our character when you come back and come back and come back. We’ve learned to play from behind and have success, which is exciting for the postseason.”
Although its path to a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance seems muddled — an RPI rating of No. 128 is problematic — Indiana (26-16, 11-4) is within striking distance of the conference crown.
IU enters the final month of the season only a half-game behind first-place Minnesota, with a crucial series in Minneapolis looming next weekend.
Sweeping a team like Northwestern (10-33, 2-16), a young program mired in the pits of the conference, is an important step forward for the Hoosiers.
And refusing to let a late rally overwhelm them revealed a strong streak of resiliency that this team can lean on down the stretch. The Hoosiers took all three games this weekend by one run, and have now won 11 one-run games this season.
“We’re talking about playing for the league,” Lemonis said. “Every time we come out here, there’s that pressure that we put on ourselves because we want to be in that situation to handle that pressure. We know what’s in front of us.” (more…)
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.
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