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Dawkins fills void as Indiana’s next quarterback

Former Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins announced his commitment to Indiana Tuesday night. (UA)

It appears Indiana has found its quarterback for the 2018 season.

On late Tuesday evening, former Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins announced his commitment to Indiana as a grad transfer and was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. Dawkins, also considering the likes of Chip Kelly and UCLA, Lane Kiffin/FAU, and Nebraska’s Scott Frost, will play his final season for Tom Allen and the Hoosiers — eligible immediately following his graduation from Arizona in May.

“I didn’t see a better fit for me,” Dawkins told ESPN. ” I could have committed there two weeks ago. There were other schools, but at the end of the day, Indiana definitely showed that they’re interested and they wanted me, they made that clear and apparent. I really respect that about them. They weren’t going to dance around. They genuinely wanted me.”

The news isn’t necessarily shocking. With two young quarterbacks on his roster, Allen has reiterated IU’s presence in the grad transfer quarterback market this offseason, but that market was slim. The Hoosiers have dipped into the transfer pool before, adding QB Richard Lagow from junior-college to succeed current Philadelphia Eagle Nate Sudfeld for two seasons.

This move is different. On the surface, Dawkins provides Indiana with experience and versatility that had been lacking on the current roster. Certainly nothing is a given, but Dawkins’ commitment will likely continue the development of rising sophomore Peyton Ramsey and heralded freshman Michael Penix. Ramsey was summoned last season and played valiantly in nine games. Penix chose IU over Florida State, among others, and is impressing with arm strength and poise as an early enrollee. The options are endless, now, but this move allows for Penix to potentially redshirt behind Dawkins and begin his collegiate career following a full offseason.

At Arizona, Dawkins appeared in 20 games for one of the nation’s top programs. He was Arizona’s starter for 10 of 12 games in 2016 after Anu Solomon suffered a knee injury. This past season, Dawkins won the starting job over Khalil Tate (and Solomon, who transferred), and played in the Wildcats’ first five games before sustaining an injury of his own. In his career, Dawkins has thrown for 2,353 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He is more than his arm. The 6-foot-3 California native has rushed for 1,481 yards and 18 touchdowns — including a 79-yard sprint against eventual CFP Semifinalist Washington.

With that, Dawkins provides offensive coordinator Mike DeBord with a bevy of options. A year ago, Indiana’s offense was ran in similar format with both Ramsey and Lagow. They were very different quarterbacks. With Dawkins, that will no longer be the case. DeBord, and Indiana, can now mold its offensive scheme to fit Dawkins’ height, speed, and maturity. If he adapts well, the former 4-star recruit may transform the offense with confident play-calling.

“Coach DeBord, some of the quarterbacks he’s had, Tom Brady, Brian Griese, just to name a few,” Dawkins said to ESPN. “Everything’s there from a mental standpoint. I know I’m not going to be able to walk in and start, but i’m fired up to get in a new competition with a new group of guys. I’m fired up to learn a new offense and go win some games.”

Dawkins is correct. He isn’t guaranteed to start. The Hoosiers are very high on Ramsey, a homegrown talent who took advantage of an adverse situation last fall. And they are high on Penix, too, as an exciting prospect who certainly has a future in Bloomington. Saturday’s Spring Game will offer insight, albeit limited, on the development of both. But given Dawkins’ track record and grad transfer status, it’s likely now his job to lose.

I am a senior from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, studying in IU’s School of Global and International Studies. Prior to joining The Hoosier Network, I spent two seasons covering IU Athletics for the Indianapolis Star alongside Zach Osterman after becoming the Sports Editor of the Indiana Daily Student as a freshman. While I found myself studying Italian in Florence this past summer, I interned with The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2017 — my hometown paper. In case you want to talk cheesesteaks or the Philadelphia 76ers, you can find me on Twitter, @ByTeddyBailey.

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