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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, July 24, 2018 12:20 pm

More from Big Ten Football Media Days: Day 2

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

CHICAGO -- Indiana head coach Tom Allen, entering his second full season leading the Hoosiers, spoke with reporters at Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday. He spoke for about 10 minutes and discussed a wide variety of topics.

Here's what Allen had to say about ...

Transfer linebacker T.D. Roof being ruled eligible to play this season: "We made an appeal [to the NCAA]. That's one thing, you talk about transfers and there's an appeal process you go through and we felt like we had a good case for him so we made the appeal. Our compliance office did a tremendous job of being thorough. One thing I will say, Georgia Tech [Roof's previous school] cooperated as well and they did what was best for a young man. I just think it's a great decision for him, great for us. We got the news a couple days ago and I was pumped, it's exciting. He's really fired up."

His linebacking corps with the addition of Roof and the return of senior Dameon Willis Jr.: "Any time you bring back young men that have played, you can't put a price tag on that experience. Just the confidence that they bring to the room. I watch Dameon as he interacts with our players -- we had all of our players over at our home the last couple of weeks at different intervals and different groups -- he was there with the linebackers and you can just tell he has that personality, [the players] follow him and he's a tremendous leader. Then TD, same thing. As a freshman in the ACC, he was on special teams, made a bunch of tackles for [Georgia Tech], then just seeing him in the spring, so I just think you add those two guys, and there's a whole bunch of other guys who are young and waiting to play, as well and they're gonna have to fight and compete and claw and scratch to get that playing time."

Money in college football: "I tell this to parents, when you think about major college football right now, the amount of money that's involved in the facilities, the coaches' salaries, the pressure to win and yet, these guys are going to school to get their degree and play college football. Most of these guys are not going to play in the NFL. So we gotta remember what we're doing and why we're doing it. I think that's my job as the leader of the program to make sure we stay grounded. It's very important, there's a lot at stake for sure, but it's not life and death. We're teaching young men to be men and be leaders of their homes one day, be leaders on the job one day and be men of character, men of class and that's what I believe is my ultimate job."

Nick Westbrook's health (Westbrook missed almost all of 2017 with a torn ACL): "[Having him back] is big for us. I love him as a person and his work ethic has just been off the charts. I've just been so happy for him to see him run and cut and plant. Obviously, you've gotta get out there and trust it in fall camp, but he was in there in spring with a blue jersey on, so he wasn't being touched. But he was planting and cutting during the spring, so from everything I see, he's 100 percent. Now he's just gotta go play and go do what God's gifted him to do, which is catch footballs."

How he'll approach the new redshirt rule that allows players to appear in four games and keep their redshirt: "We got a 12-game season and a four-game window, so it's not gonna probably be clean, where one guy plays four games in a row and this guy plays the next four games in a row, but you have to have a plan for who's going to be on special teams and who's going to be playing on offense or defense in that same game. The issue that you're going to have is, if you don't have that planned out ahead of time, they won't get enough reps [in practice] to be ready to play. Playing them just to play them doesn't really accomplish anything. I want them to be ready to play. So during fall camp, we have to target the guys we want to have in this pool, so we're gonna have a pool of guys that we're gonna say, 'These freshmen are gonna be candidates [to play].' Some guys are just gonna have to play and we're not planning on redshirting them at all. But the ones that we would have maybe redshirted, now we're gonna have a chance to play them, when they're ready to play, and as many snaps as they're ready to play in a given game."

How that new redshirt rule changes his evaluation process in fall camp: "Like with any new rule, we'll see, time will tell. I will say this, I think it's so good for the players. I just notice the way they approach it, they're fired up. They realize they're going to have an opportunity to play. I never want a kid to come in and say 'Hey, I'm going to redshirt,' but they kind of see the writing on the wall as things unfold in fall camp. So now, they're going to stay engaged, which is huge for us. A guy may be on the scout team, but it doesn't mean he's definitely [not going to play] for the rest of the year. To me, I think it just elevates everything. We've gotta have a great plan as a staff."

Transfer quarterback Brandon Dawkins, who will be immediately eligible to play as a grad transfer: "First of all, it's an open competition for quarterback. So he's not been named the starter. He'll have to compete for that position. What I've been impressed with him is his personality. It's tough to come into that situation. You come in as a graduate at that key spot and you have players already on your team that are there, and it takes a special guy, I think, to come in have the right personality. He has a humility about him. He's got a great way he carries himself. He hasn't come in with any kind of entitlement or expectation for himself. [It's] that, 'I just came here to help this team get better and help this team win.' I love that about him. He's a big physical guy that can run. I haven't seen him throw per the rules, just on film, and I've seen him work out and spent time with him obviously and been able to get to know him as a person. Excited about him joining our team and the experience he brings to us."

dsinn@jg.net