Youthful Indiana short on experience after losing top-skill players
For Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas, finding replacements for a pair of offensive stars won't be easy.
But he's eager to find out whether there's enough talent on a thin roster to make up for the losses of quarterback Logan Weaver and wide receiver Tyrayl Veney, both of whom are in their first college season at Indiana (Pa.).
“I feel like we've got a solid group of skill kids, so we'll see who emerges,” Zilinskas said.
Quality, he hopes, will outweigh the lack of numbers.
“We only have seven seniors, and our numbers are down because of that class. We're only going to have about 45 players on our roster,” Zilinskas said.
Weaver accounted for 20 passing touchdowns — 13 to Veney — and six rushing while combining for more than 2,100 total yards as Indiana posted a 7-3 record, despite losing in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs to Hopewell and sensational running back Rushel Shell, the WPIAL's all-time leading rusher, who went on to sign with Pitt.
While the quarterback job is a work in progress between junior Dequan West and sophomore Sean Thompson, there is a stable of athletic receivers available.
Junior Darrious Carter and sophomore Riley Stapleton are a pair of 6-foot-4 prospects for the position. Both have been regulars on the Indiana basketball team. Derek Stapleton, a 6-3 junior, and 6-0 junior Darnae Clemons, a state high jump placewinner, also figure to be in the mix.
“There's a lot of potential there for playmaking,” Zilinskas said.
The team's experience is slim, with just a pair of two-way veterans returning in 6-5, 285-pound senior center/linebacker Justin Spencer, who is considering an offer from Youngstown State, and 6-2, 190-pound senior running back/linebacker Nick Cornell.
Cody Squiric, a 6-2, 285-pound junior who played defensive tackle last season, is expected take on a spot at offensive tackle this season, Zilinskas said.