After being forced by injuries into starting at quarterback as a true freshman, Indiana sophomore and former Lawrence North star Donaven McCulley may be making a position change.
IU play-by-play announcer Don Fischer appeared on Indiana Sports Talk on 107.5 FM The Fan last week and was asked about the quarterback position. Fischer said the Hoosiers had decided to move McCulley to receiver. An IU spokesman said Friday the program would have no comment and would neither confirm nor deny that McCulley had been moved. He is still listed as a quarterback on IU’s roster.
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“They’ve taken Donaven McCulley out of the quarterback role and they moved him to wide receiver,” Fischer said on the radio show. “I think you’re going to see some spectacular things out of this kid before he’s done at Indiana. He’s a terrific athlete. He’s 6-5. He can really, really run. That’s one thing he did last year when he was called upon to play at quarterback.”
Without addressing McCulley’s status specifically, IU coach Tom Allen said in an interview with the Herald-Times and IndyStar in May the quarterback competition had been narrowed to two men — Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak and fifth-year senior Jack Tuttle. Bazelak threw for 5,058 yards and 23 touchdowns in three seasons at Missouri with more than 2,300 yards passing in each of the past two seasons. Tuttle, a former four-star recruit and Utah transfer, has thrown for 819 yards and four touchdowns at Indiana with his reps limited by former All-Big Ten quarterback Michael Penix Jr, who transferred to Washington this offseason.
“They’ve separated themselves, I feel like, during the spring,” Allen said.
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The 6-5, 210-pound McCulley was an all-state quarterback and one of three finalists for IndyStar Mr. Football in 2020. A four-star recruit, he is the fifth-highest rated recruit to enroll at Indiana in the recruiting service It was according to the 247Sports composite rankings, but he opted not to enroll early for the spring semester in 2021 so he could be a part of Lawrence North’s basketball team, which reached the Class 4A state finals.
Allen had decided to redshirt McCulley in 2021, but the combination of a season-ending ACL tear suffered by redshirt freshman Dexter Williams and in-season injuries to veterans Penix Jr. and Tuttle left McCulley as the only healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster when Tuttle was injured against Ohio State on Oct. 23. McCulley completed 35-of-82 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions and rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns. The Hoosiers lost every game he appeared in, however, as part of a disappointing 2-10 season.
As a big and athletic target, McCulley would have an opportunity to earn immediate playing time as a wide receiver. The Hoosiers lost their two most productive wideouts in Ty Fryfogle and Miles Marshall. Slot receiver and Florida State transfer DJ Matthews, who showed promise in the season’s first four games before suffering an ACL tear while fielding a punt against Western Kentucky, is back and is the obvious favorite to be the starting inside receiver, but both outside spots are open. Among others, McCulley would be competing with returners Javon Swinton and Malachi Holt-Bennett and incoming transfers Emery Simmons from North Carolina and Cam Camper from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas.
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Follow Herald-Times IU Insider Dustin Dopirak on Twitter at @DustinDopirak or email him at DDopirak@gannett.com.