He played for a team that finished with four wins, so it might have been easy for some across the country to ignore Tevin Coleman.
But if you were watching Big Ten football last season, you know that Coleman was one of the best players in the country.
Now Indiana has the unenviable task of figuring out a way to replace the guy who posted the 19th-best rushing season in college football history.
Coleman sprinted his way to 2,036 yards, one of just 24 times an FBS running back has hit the double-millennium mark in a single season. He hit the end zone 15 times and averaged nearly 170 yards per game. Much of his lack of attention came from the fact that Melvin Gordon played in the same conference, and the Wisconsin running back finished with the second-best rushing season in college football history, tallying a jaw-dropping 2,587 yards. Gordon was a first-round pick of the San Diego Chargers. Coleman didn’t get picked till the third round, by the Atlanta Falcons.
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Replacing Coleman is going to be quite difficult for the Hoosiers, as he accounted for 90 of the team’s 301 points and 44.8 percent of the team’s total offensive yards.
“No one’s going to fill Tevin’s shoes. He was a great back, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to fill his shoes exactly,” offensive lineman Jason Spriggs said last month during Big Ten Media Days.
Here’s the thing, though. Replacing Coleman might not be as difficult as it could’ve been.
Indiana added a huge transfer this offseason, bringing in UAB running back Jordan Howard when the Blazers’ football program was shut down. Howard rushed for 1,587 yards last season, the 14th-best mark in the country.
He might not be Tevin Coleman. But he still posted a terrific season rushing the ball.
Indiana also lost backup D’Angelo Roberts this offseason, and he was impressive in his own right, rushing for 493 yards on 107 carries. But Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson feels good about Devine Redding, who will team with Howard to carry the weight for the Hoosiers this season. Redding toted the ball just 29 times last season, going for 118 yards.
“Counting a lot on Jordan and Devine to be the bell cows, and we’ll see how much they want,” Wilson said Sunday during the team’s media day. “I think Jordan Howard’s good. I think Devine’s going to be really good. But it’ll be interesting to see how much they want when you start feeding them the ball. Do you really want it and are you going to bring it day after day? You knew Tevin was gonna bring it. … Right now, I think we’ve got some good players, but until you get into games and (see) consistency and toughness and taking care of the ball and protections, I’d like to think those two guys (can do it), but bullets start flying maybe some things will change.”
Indiana hasn’t won more than five games in a season under Wilson, but it’s been able to do certain things really well. Two years ago, it was passing. Last season, it was running. The Hoosiers ranked fifth in the Big Ten in total offense, paced by a rushing offense that was the conference’s third best.
No one can replace Coleman, but with Howard in the fold, that rushing standard will be a little easier to keep up.