IU’s Wilson makes impression
Once IU picked Kevin Wilson as its new head coach, Belcher’s decision became much easier. Wilson’s run as an assistant coach at Oklahoma from 2002-2010 was so impressive that Belcher figured he’d stick around and possibly improve his draft stock.
“Once I found out he was coming to IU, that was a big reason why I stayed,” Belcher said. “I looked at his past history at Oklahoma and knew (his teams) threw the ball well. Great offensive coordinator.”
Wilson led offenses that played in national championship games after the 2003, 2004 and 2008 seasons and in Big 12 title games in seven of his nine years at Oklahoma. He was named the nation’s top assistant coach in 2008.
In all, 22 Oklahoma offensive players, including 2010 No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, were drafted during Wilson’s stay at Oklahoma.
“He’s a great coach and he’s a mastermind on the offensive playcalling,” Belcher said. “I’m excited to play for him this year, and I know the rest of my teammates are too.”
Wilson’s track record is just part of his appeal. His direct, no-nonsense approach has drawn praise from players trying to bounce back from a 5-7 season.
“He’s the first person to tell you you’re messing up,” tight end Todd Bolser said. “If you’re doing well, he’ll tell you you’re doing well. If you’re doing bad, he’ll pull you without even saying anything. He’s very strict. He knows what he wants, he knows what he expects, and I think we all respect that.”
Those expectations are especially high for the top players.
“When he first got here, he said he’s going to get on the leaders more than anybody else because the younger guys are going to do as we do,” Belcher said.
And when the leaders don’t produce?
“He’ll break you down and bring you right back up,” Belcher said.
Wilson said he learned his approach from his mentors, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and the late former Northwestern coach, Randy Walker.
“I just try to be honest,” Wilson said. “There’s not an agenda.”
Belcher caught 78 passes for 832 yards as a junior.
Another receiver, Duwyce Wilson, caught 32 passes for 488 yards last season.
At quarterback, Dusty Kiel, Ed Wright-Baker, Teddy Schell, Adam Follett and rookie Tre Roberson are in the running to replace Ben Chappell.
Indiana has six starters back on defense. The defensive line is experienced, with tackles Adam Replogle and Mick Mentzer and end Darius Johnson back.
Linebackers Jeff Thomas and Leon Beckum return. Thomas was second on the team with 82 tackles.
Free safety Donnell Jones anchors the secondary. He tied for the team lead with five pass breakups last season.