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Last updated: Wed. Jul. 09, 2014 - 07:47 am EDT

IU boosts linebacker, quarterback prospects

Ex-Notre Dame recruit joins the Hoosiers

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BLOOMINGTON – Did Indiana answer its who-is-Nate-Sudfeld's-quarterback-backup question with the late addition of Danny Cameron?

Can Notre Dame's linebacker loss be the Hoosiers' difference-making gain?

It's too early to tell, but getting Cameron and Nile Sykes provides unexpected options for the upcoming football season.

Cameron is the son of Cam Cameron, the former IU quarterback and head coach, plus veteran NFL coach. The father is the LSU offensive coordinator, and was in Bloomington last month with his son for a Hoosier football camp that turned into a mutual courtship.

Danny Cameron was set to attend prep school in Maine when the Hoosiers offered. He spent last season as a backup at Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic High School, which won a district title last year.

The 6-2, 200-pounder becomes IU's third scholarship quarterback behind Sudfeld and freshman Alexander Diamont. Depth was needed after last year's Hoosiers quarterback strength took a hit in recent months with the transfers of Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson.

“Danny and Coach Cameron visited with us a couple weeks ago and we all feel confident that this is a strong fit,” coach Kevin Wilson said in a university release. “Danny adds depth to our quarterback position.”

Roberson's transfer to Illinois State last month was an unexpected blow. He was a co-starter last season and figured heavily in this season's plans either as a full-time starter or in a rotation with Sudfeld.

The Hoosiers look to be fine as long as the 6-5, 232-pound Sudfeld stays healthy. The junior ranks second in school history in completion percentage (60.2) and seventh in touchdown passes (28). Last season he threw for 2,523 yards and 21 touchdowns, with nine interceptions while starting eight games.

It will help having the Big Ten's No. 2 offensive line (behind Wisconsin) according to veteran college football analyst Phil Steele, plus a potentially solid rushing attack behind tailback Tevin Coleman.

Getting Sykes was a surprise considering he had signed with Notre Dame and was attending summer school there in June. But when the Irish released the 6-1, 219-pound three-star prospect recently from his national letter of intent, the Hoosiers quickly offered. They had recruited him hard when he was an Illinois all-state pick last season for Montini Catholic High School near Chicago.

As a senior Sykes totaled 80 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He also had scholarship offers from Purdue, Missouri, Illinois, Cincinnati, Iowa State and Syracuse.

Rivals.com listed Sykes as the No. 20 inside linebacker nationally and the No. 18 prospect in the state of Illinois.

“After coach (Brian) Kelly and Notre Dame released Nile from his NLI, he reached out to us,” Wilson said in a university release. “We recruited Nile hard and he was a guy we really wanted. We are happy to have him and welcome him into our program.”

Given Indiana's well-documented defensive woes in recent years, Sykes figures to get every chance to make immediate impact. IU had the Big Ten's worst defense last year, allowing 38.8 points and 528 total yards a game.

The Hoosiers will run a 3-4 defense this season under new coordinator Brian Knorr. They return starting linebackers David Cooper, T.J. Simmons and Flo Hardin, plus veterans David Kenney, Clyde Newton and Zach Shaw.

As far as the offense, senior receiver Shane Wynn is one of 47 players to make the Paul Hornung Award Watch List. It's presented annually to the nation's most versatile player.

Wynn has showed his versatility by becoming the first Hoosier ever to score while receiving (17), running (one), kick returning (one) and punt returning (one).

Wynn ranks third in school history in kick return yardage (1,610), fifth in receiving touchdowns (17), eighth in catches (133), 10th in all-purpose yards (3,270) and 17th in receiving yards (1,490).

He leads all Big Ten receivers with 20 career touchdowns. Last year he scored 13 touchdowns, 11 by reception.

The Hoosiers also got their 10th commitment for the Class of 2015 with the addition of athlete Titus Booker from Grayslake North High School in Illinois. Booker is one of the state's fastest athletes. The two-star prospect was second in the state high school 100-meter dash (10.6 seconds) and was fifth in the 200, with a best of 21.5 seconds. He's run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

Last season, despite being limited to six games because of a high ankle sprain, Booker rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also saw time as a receiver.

Booker also has potential as a defensive back.

IU's other commitments are defensive end Joe Belden, tight end Austin Dorris, offensive linemen Brandon Knight, Hunter Littlejohn and Simon Stepaniak, quarterback Tommy Stevens, defensive back Omari Stringer, defensive end Jacob Robinson and receiver Leon Thornton.

Stevens, out of Indianapolis Decatur Central, is the highest rated recruit at No. 15 nationally. Knight rates No. 43. Thornton is at No. 60.

pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com


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