Indiana junior defensive end Greg Middleton is among 42 of the nation's defensive players who have been named to the 2008 Lott Trophy Watch List released on Friday.
Last season, Middleton received All-America honors from the Associated Press, The Sporting News, CBSSports.com, SI.com, Rivals.com and CollegeFootballNews.com. He was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award and became the first IU defensive lineman since Adewale Ogunleye in 1997 to earn first team All-Big Ten honors. Middleton set a new single-season school record with 16 sacks, which also led the nation.
Named after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Now in its fourth year, The Lott Trophy is the first college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player.
Indiana’s first scrimmage of the spring is Saturday at Memorial Stadium. It is open to the public and admission is free. It was originally scheduled to start at 1 p.m., but is now slated to begin at 1:30.
Because of the injuries to IU’s offensive line, the scrimmage will be different than most scrimmages. There will be periods of live scrimmaging, broken up by stretches of other drills that will give the offensive line time to regroup after during double-duty on both the first-string and second-string offenses.
By the end of practice Thursday, IU was down to seven healthy offensive linemen. They started with eight, but Andrew McDonald left practice after getting his bell rung. The coaching staff is hoping McDonald will be back today and starting left tackle Rodger Saffold is expected to back any day. Saffold hasn’t practiced yet this spring because of a strained leg muscle, but he now feels well enough to play, Lynch said, although IU’s staff is being careful about not having him come back too soon.
Columbus East junior wide receiver Duwyce Wilson was a visitor at practice Tuesday. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Wilson has scholarship offers from IU and Wisconsin, and is also being recruited by Illinois, Purdue, Kentucky and Iowa, among others.
Redshirt freshman tight end Max Dedmond (Evansville Central, 6-5, 240) is one of the youngsters who’s playing well and seeing a lot of playing time with the first string. On defense, Eric Thomas, a 6-4, 265-pound redshirt freshman from Cleveland, Ohio is playing on the first string due to the absence of Greg Brown and Deonte Mack because of injuries.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Darius Johnson is playing with the No. 2 defense behind older starters Will Patterson, Matt Mayberry and Geno Johnson, but is getting noticed this spring. “I think our safeties are playing very well and I really like our linebackers,” coach Bill Lynch said. “We’ve got some good depth at linebacker. The young guy that I see keep making plays is Darius Johnson. He’s a force.”
Lynch on newcomers A.J. Thompson (OL) and Kyle Kozak (DE): “I really have been impressed with A.J. Thompson because he’s playing right side and left side with a brand-new offense (to him) and we’re going no huddle, (new) signals. I think he’s really hung in there very well. And Kyle Kozak is a football player. He’s one of those defensive guys who shows up and you notice him a lot. I think both of them have really made the adjustment well.
You can check out the questions and answers from today’s Indiana sports chat here.
We tackle questions about Tom Crean, Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis, Jordan Crawford, Eric Gordon, Kyle Kozak, IU’s assistant basketball coaches and others.
There’s so much news to be had today, but I thought I’d give you a run down of some things that have interested me today:
- Jamarcus Ellis and Armon Bassett, the guards who were recently ousted from the team by interim coach Dan Dakich, were not invited to the team meeting with Crean this morning.
- Eric Gordon, the freshman guard who is currently trying to decide whether or not to jump to the NBA, did not attend the meeting. I spoke with his father, Eric Gordon Sr., earlier today and was told that Eric will announce on Friday a plan — a plan — for the next week or so. He’s not going to make his final decision known but instead outline some of his thoughts about how he’ll come to whatever conclusion he comes to. Gordon Sr. said that what Tom Crean has to say — the new coach has expressed a desire to meet with Gordon — will not play heavily into E.J.’s decision. “What he’s doing is making a decision about what’s best for him,” Gordon Sr. said. “He’s got to make the right decision for his own future based on what’s going to help him the most.”
- Crean knows he will be re-recruiting most of the current players. He said that they were quiet when he met them during the 10 a.m. meeting today. But that’s what he expected. He hopes to meet with them individually in the coming days.
- Eli Holman, the 6-9 center out of Richmond, Calif., will fly home Friday night and meet with family and friends to discuss his future. He said he was not currently leaning toward staying or going. Jordan Crawford said he will take some time to ponder his future, too. Those were the only two players who attended the announcement today.
- Lawrence McGugins, the AAU coach and trusted adviser to top recruit Devin Ebanks, believes Indiana made a solid hire by grabbing Crean. “He’s won in a major conference, one of the top conferences,” he told me today. “He’s a good catch, a great coach. He knows what he’s doing in running a program all around.” Ebanks is waiting to hear from Crean before moving forward with his decision. The 6-9 wing from New York City is also considering Memphis, Rutgers, Texas and West Virginia.
- Crean hasn’t had time to even consider who he’ll try to hire to fill out his coaching staff. He plans on speaking with the current coaches â€” Dakich, Ray McCallum and Jeff Meyer â€” sometime soon. He’s also keeping his assistants from Marquette in mind, and two of those have (what’s the best word here?) interesting ties to the Indiana situation. Tim Buckley actually took over for Ray McCallum in 2000 when McCallum left his alma mater, Ball State, for the Houston job. Buckley had spent several years as McCallum’s top assistant, and last year was on Steve Alford’s staff at Iowa. Bennie Seltzer played for Kelvin Sampson at Washington State, then became an assistant on Sampson’s staff at Oklahoma after a short pro career. He spent nine years as Sampson’s assistant but went to Marquette when Sampson left for Indiana.
We’ve uploaded the audio from ten different interviews â€” two with Crean, one with Eli Holman and others â€” conducted by Herald-Times reporters today. There’s also a Vodcast discussing the events of the day.
To check out our first news story with the highlights of today’s press conference, click here.