Indiana Hoosiers Top NFL Prospects for 2012 and Beyond


The Indiana Hoosiers are typically not known for their prowess on the football field, and lately they are not known for their prowess in either basketball or football, the two major collegiate sports. The Hoosiers, like a few of our previous teams, are going to endure a change at the head coaching position. Kevin Wilson takes over a team that has really struggled over the last few years, though they are slightly improving every year, with three, four, and five wins in the last three seasons.

Wilson’s crew doesn’t feature a ton of staggering NFL talent, but there are some guys that could make an impact at the NFL level in 2012 or beyond, and one big receiver in particular…

88 Damarlo Belcher (Senior), WR, 6’5″ 214

Belcher is a big possession receiver who had a great season in 2010, leading the Hoosiers’ very balanced passing attack with 832 yards on 78 catches. He also added four touchdowns, and has vaulted himself into the Indiana football record books. Belcher is third in Indiana history with 164 career receptions, and sixth with 1,939 yards. As a true freshman, he played in 12 games and started two of them, and has been extremely productive for them ever since. Since 2008, Belcher has found the end zone 11 times, and is the leader of probably the best overall unit on the entire Indiana team. As a sophomore, Belcher caught 61 passes for 770 yards and five touchdowns, and really has shown over the last two years that he can be a big play guy for the Hoosiers. He is tall and has great overall length, and while he’s not exactly “fast” he is a long strider and he can make plays down the field, where he is a serious mismatch. His NFL potential is higher to me, though I don’t know if he will be drafted higher than Tandon Doss was this past year, though he certainly could be. Ben Chappel is no longer the quarterback at Indiana, so that will be an adjustment in and of itself. Chappel was very good at distributing the ball to all of the receivers, but without him, you have to wonder if the new, younger quarterback is going to lock in on the experienced Belcher to bail him out of situations.

28 Darius Willis (RS Junior), RB, 6’0″ 220

Indiana has been primarily a passing offense over the last few years, so Willis is a guy who has gone under the radar as it is. Factor in a left knee injury that prematurely ended his 2010 season, and virtually no one knows about this guy right now, but they should. Willis has ideal NFL size and speed, and despite his durability issues, he is a guy who could really turn some heads this year. As a RS Freshman in 2009, he ran for 607 yards and six touchdowns, and he was expected to break out as a sophomore. He was well on his way to doing that before the aforementioned knee injury derailed his season. In five games, he ran 64 times for 278 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 11 receptions for 102 yards and a score.

53 Jeff Thomas (RS Senior), LB, 6’1″ 244

Big, rangy linebacker who finished second on the team with 82 tackles last year after transferring from Foothill Community College in California. Enters his senior season as the leader of the Indiana defense, and definitely has some potential for the NFL if he can continue to hone his craft. In addition to his 82 tackles, he had 7.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, a sack, and a broken up pass. In 2009, he was the Nor-Cal Conference Defensive Player of the year with 104 tackles, 14.5 for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and six passes broken up. Solid instincts and good field awareness. Always around the ball. If he continues to improve, he might get drafted but he should definitely get a tryout next year. He definitely has the size, but does he have enough speed and athletic ability to play in the NFL?