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'I couldn’t pass up that opportunity': Trio of Power Five transfers eager to play for Tom Allen

Ryder Anderson wasn’t aware of Tom Allen and Indiana’s "LEO" mantra. But when he first stepped foot on campus, he could notice the impact right away. 

“As soon as I got here I noticed the relationships,” Anderson said. “They all brought me in the same way.”

After being a key part of the Ole Miss defense that stymied Indiana’s offense in the Outback Bowl, Anderson will join the Hoosier defense as a graduate transfer defensive lineman. Ole Miss held Indiana to 20 points, and Anderson totaled two tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry and one sack.

The transition for Anderson to new Indiana defensive coordinator Charlton Warren’s defense shouldn’t require much of an adjustment period. During Anderson’s freshman and sophomore seasons at Ole Miss, the Rebels ran a 4-2-5 defense, which has been a staple of Allen’s defensive system.

Anderson said he has a lot of fun playing in a 4-2-5 defense and anticipates playing more defensive end at Indiana than he did last year. Because of his versatility on the defensive line, Anderson said he can also move inside depending on the scenario.

The Hoosiers will be gaining some much-needed size on the defensive front after Jerome Johnson entered his name in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Anderson will bring just that. Standing at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, Anderson’s size and speed can give opposing offensive linemen serious troubles. 

When Anderson spoke to the media on Thursday, he ironically mentioned Allen’s message about Indiana not finishing the 2020 season the way it wanted. While Anderson was part of the reason for Indiana’s collapse in the Outback Bowl, he is excited to be a part of Allen’s message.

“Everything up to this point has been 'finish,'” Anderson said. “That will be the same line as we head into spring ball and do all the little things right.”

While the recent trend at Indiana has been an upswing for the football program and the exact opposite for men’s basketball, another transfer still knows Indiana for its basketball.

Former Florida State wide receiver DJ Matthews will join the Hoosiers for the 2021-2022 season, and said he started following players such as Michael Penix Jr. and Ty Fryfogle at the start of this year. Matthews recognizes the rapid growth of the football program, but was made aware of Indiana University for other reasons.

"I called it (Victor) Oladipo's school," Matthews said.

Matthews was a highly-touted recruit out of high school, and was ranked the No. 51 recruit in the country and the eighth-ranked wide receiver. Ideally, Matthews will fill the Whop Philyor role for the Hoosiers in the slot after Philyor’s decision to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

On Thursday, Matthews said he expects to play in the slot, but knows that could change based on matchups and offensive scheme during the season. However, Matthews is also excited to make his impact felt on special teams. In three years at Florida State, Matthews returned 56 kicks and punts for 582 yards and one touchdown.

"I take all special teams seriously,” Matthews said. “I love special teams...That’s what got me on the field when I first got to college."

Allen has continued to build strong connections with the state of Florida, and Matthews is just another example. Coming from Jacksonville, Matthews said he is close friends with Indiana defensive back Devon “Monster” Matthews. 

Being from Florida, DJ said it took him a few weeks to adjust to the winter weather of Bloomington, but Devon has helped him with the transition. DJ said Devon helped explain to him how the program was run and things to prepare for upon his arrival in Bloomington.

Standing at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, DJ Matthews brings a similar skillset to the Hoosiers that Philyor did for four seasons. Matthews figures to fit in the slot and use his speed to his advantage, but he is also excited to play with Fryfogle, who is returning for a fifth season.

"I was excited when I saw Ty Fry post that he was coming back,” Matthews said. “It gave me a lot of confidence that we would have older guys to lead and take the next step.”

While the idea of playing with one of the best receivers in the Big Ten was intriguing for Matthews, the head coach he will play for might have him even more excited. Matthews said Indiana was one of the first schools to reach out to him, and he has heard so many great things about Allen.

“For coach Allen to reach out and get an opportunity to join a winning program, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity,” Matthews said. “...Playing for one of the greatest coaches in college football right now.”

Matthews will be in his fifth year of college next season, and his goals are pretty simple.

“I’m happy I got the opportunity to be around so many guys who are willing to work and pursue the dream and chase everything, chase greatness,” Matthews said.

The final member of the trio of Power Five players transferring to Indiana for next season is offensive lineman Zach Carpenter. Carpenter played his first two seasons at Michigan where he saw action in just five games.

He primarily appeared for the Wolverines on special teams, but made his collegiate debut on Oct. 24 at Minnesota playing center. Out of high school, Carpenter was rated as a three-star recruit and the 33rd-ranked offensive guard in the country.

On Thursday, Carpenter told the media that he has always seen himself as a leader. Because of this, he is ready to compete for the starting job at center due to the departure of Harry Crider. Carpenter said he is comfortable playing both center and guard, but prefers center because it gives him a better chance to play at the next level.

Indiana recruited Carpenter out of high school, and when he decided to transfer, he said it was not difficult to rekindle his relationship with Allen. 

“Throughout the season you saw Indiana football was big all over national coverage and really put them in my mind for where I want to go,” Carpenter said. “...Right off the bat nothing really changed.”

Carpenter described last year’s Indiana football team as electric. He said the culture Allen has built at Indiana was a huge factor in his decision, and he remembers a specific play that depicted this. 

“[Indiana] is coming off the sideline and I remember coach Allen giving the kid a hug and he fell down,” Carpenter said. “Just stuff like that that I hadn’t experienced before.”

Since his arrival in Bloomington, Carpenter said he has been hitting the weight room with Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Football Performance Aaron Wellman. Compared to his past experiences in the weight room, Carpenter said he enjoys Wellman’s approach because it is not just an emphasis on lifting heavy weights, but rather what is best for your body composition.

“It is an individualized approach,” Carpenter said. “I think that’s great not only to perform the best on the field, but to get yourself ready to take the next step.”

Though Carpenter hasn’t been in Bloomington for long, he said he has never felt uncomfortable in his transition to a new team. He said he can notice that the coaches truly care about the players and always want the best for them.

“It’s been everything and more,” Carpenter said. “This place is special. The culture here is unreal.”

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