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Position battles: Indiana Hoosiers

2/10/2015

Before you know it, spring practice will be underway around the Big Ten. To get you ready, we're examining a few position battles to watch at each program.

Next under the microscope is Indiana.

1. Wide receiver: The Hoosiers lose leading receivers Shane Wynn and Nick Stoner, plus running back Tevin Coleman -- who finished second on the team with 25 receptions in 2014 -- but regain the services of quarterback Nate Sudfeld, whose shoulder injury spelled doom for the Hoosiers on offense last season. A glut of sophomores return to fight for three starting spots, though, of course, Indiana will use four- and five-receiver sets. Start with J-Shun Harris II, Dominique Booth, Simmie Cobbs and UAB transfer Marqui Hawkins, who began his career at Florida. Ricky Jones returns as a junior, and Indiana signed three receivers, headlined by Leon Thornton and 6-foot-3 Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, last week to supplement a talented but inexperienced position group.

2. Cornerback: Gone are starters Michael Hunter, who is transferring to Oklahoma State for his final season of eligibility and Tim Bennett, who led Indiana with nine pass breakups last season. So that leaves Donovan Clark and Rashard Fant, who contributed as freshmen. Classmates Noel Padmore and Laray Smith, a converted running back, played sparingly last season. Kenny Mullen, a rising senior, returns from a knee injury suffered in the Hoosiers' September win over Missouri. New signee Andre Brown will get a look in August.

3. Linebacker: David Cooper and Forisse Hardin ranked among Indiana's top five tacklers as seniors on a struggling defensive unit. T.J. Simmons, the starter in the middle, returns as a junior after leading all players at the position group with 72 stops. Tegray Scales fills a spot after earning freshman All-America recognition. Greg Gooch, Clyde Newton and Marcus Oliver, an important reserve who was lost to injury early last season, will fight for time, as will redshirt freshman Nile Sykes, who earned scout-team accolades last fall.