TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State football coach Mike Sanford said he wanted more depth at the close of spring football.
With 14 newcomers that have arrived since April, Sanford got what he wanted.
ISU announced the 14 newcomers on Thursday. All have been practicing with the team since it opened preseason practice on Aug. 1.
Sanford had said that wide receiver and the linebacking positions were particular causes for concern and that was reflected in the makeup of the newcomer pool. Five wide receivers and three linebackers comprised over half of the Sycamores’ newbies.
“We did address a lot of our needs. I feel very good about the class we recruited in February, but you never know until you get into camp,” Sanford said.
The additions to the wide receiving corps are perhaps most vital and include the only Division I transfer among the ranks of the new Sycamores — former Louisiana Tech wide receiver Travis Reyes.
Receivers Demory Lawshe (31 catches, 393 yards, 3 TD), Tanner Riley (22-219-1) and Chris O’Leary (7-74) all return, but Sanford wanted more depth.
That desire was amplified when Donald Spencer — who had 21 catches for 196 yards in 2012 — was dismissed from the team. Sanford declined to elaborate on the reason for Spencer’s dismissal.
Joining Reyes are Jeremiah Alphabet (who broke his wrist Tuesday and has had surgery), Greg Cuthbertson, Antonio Johnson and David Roberts. It’s a mix of Division I and junior college transfers as well as true freshmen.
“We feel we need to have competition and speed at wide receiver. We need to have the capability to force people to defend the pass,” said Sanford, citing Shakir Bell’s presence at running back and the need to take pressure off of him. “We needed speed, physicality and size.”
Reyes, who sat out 2012 as a redshirt at Louisiana Tech, had 29 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns at California’s Foothill Community College in 2011.
“I sent coach Sanford some film and he said we need some wide receivers to make some big plays,” Reyes said.
When asked to assess the Sanford system, Reyes put it down to one thing … pace.
“The system here is fast. Louisiana Tech had a fast pace and I thought I would be in shape and handle these practices easily, but the pace is faster than what I was practicing at,” Reyes said. “Its been an adjustment. This pace is ridiculous. I don’t know how a defense is going to be able to withstand that pace for four quarters.”
Reyes is a native of Los Altos, Calif., as is the lone offensive lineman brought in — Aaron Jelovic. The western flavor is strong among the newcomers — eight were brought in from states in the Rocky Mountains or West Coast, the area where Sanford has spent much of his coaching career.
The three linebackers brought aboard — Castille Bayers, Nick Cody and Connor Toohey — will be called upon to cement a unit that was decimated by graduation after the 2012 season.
“There’s a lot of competition going on for spots. Its been fun. I come in with a strong mindset everyday,” said Cody, who is playing at an inside linebacker position.
Punter Jordon Stangler, a junior college transfer, will be called upon to fill the void left when Australian punter Rhys Felton — recruited in January’s class — didn’t qualify academically.
n Thursday practice — The Sycamores were given a twist when a downpour drowned the Memorial Stadium surface for the last third of the team’s practice time.
For the most part, the inclement weather was handled well by the Sycamores, according to Sanford, as it was in the spring.
“I was very pleased with how we dealt with weather situations in the spring — we had cold, we had snow, we had some really bad rain. We carried through that today. We got a lot done,” Sanford said. “The one thing I was disappointed in was the center-quarterback exchange. We had some issues. It was good for us to encounter it and work on it.”
ISU will have its second two-a-day practice session on Friday.
ISU football newcomers
Pos/Name Class Hometown (Prev. School)
DB Carlos Aviles Fr. Highlands Ranch, Colo.
DB Clay Guess Jr. Costa Mesa, Calif. (Orange Coast)
LB Castille Bayers Fr. Aurora, Colo.
LB Nick Cody Jr. Rancha Santa Margarita, Calif. (Orange Coast)
LB Connor Toohey Fr. Newport Beach, Calif.
LS Joshua Appel Fr. Normal, Ill.
LS Cody Childress Fr. Mishawaka
OL Aaron Jelovic Jr. Los Altos Hills, Calif. (Foothill)
P Jordon Stangler Jr. Surprise, Ariz. (Eastern Arizona)
WR Jeremiah Alphabet Fr. Austell, Ga.
WR Greg Cuthbertson Jr. Blythewood, S.C. (Ventura)
WR Antonio Johnson Jr. Oklahoma City (Hutchinson)
WR Travis Reyes Jr. Los Altos Hills, Calif. (Lousiana Tech)
WR David Roberts Fr. Xenia, Ohio