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QB Dawkins leaves Indiana program

August 28, 2018

Brandon Dawkins came to Indiana to be its starting quarterback.

That didn’t happen. Now he’s gone.

Less than a week after Peyton Ramsey was named IU’s starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at Florida International, Dawkins has decided to leave the program.

The graduate transfer from Arizona had been in a three-way competition for the starting job, joining Ramsey and true freshman Michael Penix, but Dawkins struggled to assert himself as anything more than a backup option. His elusiveness on the ground, meanwhile, was mostly muted due to the fact that quarterbacks are not eligible for contact in practice.

″(He’s) just going a different direction with his life, so (he) kind of wanted to sort some things out, figure out what’s next for him,” Allen said.

After he informed his quarterbacks on Wednesday that Ramsey would be the starter, Allen said Dawkins took time to consider his options.

“A couple days after that, he and I met,” Allen said. “Then, (Sunday), he let us know where he’s at.”

Dawkins did not respond to a message from The Herald-Times seeking comment.

Dawkins announced his transfer to Indiana in April after playing parts of three seasons at Arizona, where he started 14 of the 23 games in which he appeared. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Dawkins threw for 2,414 career yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for the Wildcats, while running for 1,582 yards with 20 touchdowns and a 68.8 per-game rushing average.

Even without entering the season atop the depth chart, it was still possible that Dawkins would have been used situationally. Allen told reporters last week that he saw a scenario where Dawkins could have had his own package tailored to his strengths as a runner.

Instead, IU will open the season with Ramsey and Penix as its most game-ready options.

Asked whether he was surprised to see Dawkins leave, Ramsey hesitated.

“I don’t know,” Ramsey said. “I don’t really know how to answer that question. He was good to me the entire time that he was here and I wish him nothing but the best.”

To rebuild depth, Allen has moved freshman cornerback Reese Taylor to quarterback. Monday was his first day of practice at the position.

At the same time, Taylor, who won Indiana’s Mr. Football honor after quarterbacking Ben Davis to the Class 6A state title, is no stranger to offense. He received reps at the offensive skill positions during fall camp as a versatile, athletic weapon IU hoped to deploy in certain situations.

It’s unclear how much IU might use Taylor in that manner as he picks up third-string quarterback duties. But there’s no doubt that Indiana wants the talented newcomer on the field in some form or fashion.

And getting a player with Taylor’s high upside at the position may turn into a nice trade off for the Hoosiers.

Dawkins’ decision also impacts Penix, a redshirt candidate. Ideally, Indiana would have preferred to play him in no more than four games, preserving his redshirt and guaranteeing an extra season of eligibility. Now, that might be more difficult.

Either way, Penix is on track for game reps early this season to see how he handles live action. His first taste may even come this weekend at FIU.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if you see him on Saturday,” Allen said. “I don’t know when, where, how. I just think he’s a young man that we want to be able to grow his development into the program and see how he handles all that and responds. We’ll find out for sure on Saturday how it plays out.”

Justus named placekicker

After a month-long battle, IU has named a starting placekicker.

Redshirt junior walk-on Logan Justus will handle field goals when Indiana faces FIU on Saturday night. Justus, who has been with the team since 2015, has not kicked in any games for the Hoosiers. He beat out scholarship freshman Charles Campbell for the job.

“That was a tight one, too,” Allen said. “Went down with the older, mature guy. Just the way we charted everything, I feel like he’s earned the right to be the starting field goal kicker going into Week 1. Charles Campbell is right there on his heels. We’ll get a chance to see what he can do, too.”

Although Justus is listed atop the two-deep, situations could dictate which kicker enters the game.

Allen said it was possible that he could choose either Justus, a lefty, or Campbell, a righty, to kick a field goal depending on which side of the hashes the ball sits.

Redshirt sophomore Jared Smolar, who previously kicked at Rutgers, will handle kickoffs.

No update on Ellison

Tom Allen declined to provide details on the indefinite suspension of sophomore running back Morgan Ellison on Monday, saying the matter was outside of his purview.

“That’s totally out of my hands,” Allen said. “I have no comment.”

Asked if it’s likely Ellison is reinstated to the active roster at some point, Allen said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know,” Allen said. “Just not in my hands.”

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