Bloomington - As Indiana's Sept. 3 season opener draws nearer, one of the questions that must be answered is who will serve as Ben Chappell's back-up? Both Teddy Schell and Adam Follett return, but freshmen Edward Wright-Baker (pictured) and Dusty Kiel are both making their own cases to fill that role...
Bloomington – Matt Canada isn’t expecting a great deal of sympathy with the predicament he’s facing these days.
Indiana’s Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach knows Ben Chappell will be under center when the Hoosiers open the season Sept. 3 against Eastern Kentucky. But there’s a great deal of uncertainty about who will be his back-up.
Will it be one of the returnees? Redshirt freshman Adam Follett is a big kid with a strong arm who spent the spring as the team’s No. 2. There’s also sophomore Teddy Schell, who’s just now getting back to full strength from an elbow injury and subsequent surgery that has limited him ever since he arrived on campus.
Or, could it be a true freshman? New arrivals Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel have both impressed Canada with their ability to pick up the offense, their presence on the field, and their potential.
“You look at them both – they’re both Big Ten quarterbacks,” Canada said of the two newcomers.
With a week and a half of fall camp now complete, Canada has done his best to give all five quarterbacks an opportunity to showcase their skills in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions. There will come a point, though, where he’ll have to zero in on the two or three that will make up the depth chart, because “you can’t get five guys ready to be a quarterback.”
That might prove to be a tough call, but Canada says he’s fortunate in that the choice will be from a handful of good options, instead of trying to pick the best of some bad choices. All five quarterbacks have had their moments since fall camp opened, and at this point none of them would be a surprising choice as the team’s No. 2.
“You can’t have enough good players,” Canada said. “No one is walking around going, ‘I have too many good quarterbacks. Poor me.’”
Two of the good ones are the two new arrivals, Kiel and Wright-Baker. While the quarterback position is one of the more unlikely spots for a true freshman to bypass a redshirt season and instead play, both of IU’s highly-regarded newcomers are making a case for the No. 2 job.
The 6’2”, 220-pound Kiel had the benefit of graduating from high school early and making the trip from his home in Columbus, Ind., to observe each of IU’s 15 spring practices. Wright-Baker didn’t have that luxury and admits to being overwhelmed when fall camp got underway.
“We go out, and my first day was crazy,” Wright-Baker said. “Everybody was everywhere.”
Wright-Baker has since settled in and has been equally impressive as of late. Both young quarterbacks know there’s a legitimate opportunity to crack the two-deep this fall, and potentially play should anything happen to Chappell during the season.
“The more we are learning, the better we’re getting,” said the 6’1”, 205-pound Wright-Baker, who accounted for 31 touchdowns last year at Jeffersonville (Ind.) H.S. “We’re getting the reps, and the No. 2 spot is open, and one of us has to take it.”
Kiel is making a case for the job as well, although he’s trying to avoid making that his primary focus during camp.
“If I’m pushing the guys around me, then that’s good for me,” said Kiel, who threw for 3,172 yards and 35 touchdowns last season at Columbus East. “I’d like to be the No. 2, but if Adam (Follett) is better or if whoever is better, then that’s coach’s decision. I’m here to compete and try to give 100 percent every day.”
Both continue to do that, and as a result they’re getting serious looks by their position coach as potential back-ups for Chappell. It remains very possible that one of the veterans could ultimately prove to be the choice at No. 2 and both Kiel and Wright-Baker will redshirt, but neither is going to make that decision an easy one for Canada or Coach Bill Lynch.
“We believe when you come in here, you’re going to be at the bottom of the depth chart,” Canada said. “The guys that are here, they’re always ahead. They’re our guys, they’ve been here, they’ve worked – I don’t think there’s any other way to do it.
“In the same breath, in recruiting and through time we say we’re going to play the best guys. If you come in and prove you’re ready to play and the best guy, then go.”
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