BLOOMINGTON — When practices for Indiana fall football camp start next month, it will present an opportunity for a pair of incoming freshman specialists.
David Ellis and Sean Wracher weren’t big names in IU’s top-40 national 2019 recruiting class. But both could serve important roles on special teams for the Hoosiers next season.
Ellis, a speedy 6-foot receiver from Clinton Township, Mich., will get a chance a win a job returning kicks and punts, while Wracher could take over as long snapper for the departed Dan Godsil, who recently signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ellis returned five kicks (four kickoffs, one punt) for touchdowns in his senior year at Chippewa Valley (Mich.) High School. The longest went for 96 yards. Ellis will vie to win the punt return job vacated by J-Shun Harris III, who returned three punts for TDs in his college career.
“That’s big shoes to fill,” Ellis said. “You know, he was an excellent return guy.”
But Ellis has confidence in his ability and wants to show the coaching staff he can cover kicks as well as return them.
“I can cover kicks, and I can cover punts as well if they needed me to,” Ellis said. “So, special teams, I’m kind of a do-it-all guy.”
Wracher is considered one of the top long-snapping prospects in the 2019 class, ranked seventh in the nation by 24-7.com analysts. He was also being recruited by Penn State and Syracuse but chose IU based on how well Godsil developed during his career with the Hoosiers.
“It was appealing to me that to have an opportunity to start right away and to get my path going with this program, to move on to the next level,” Wracher said.
At 6-4 and 195 pounds, Wracher’s goal during the offseason is to get stronger to deal with his blocking responsibilities post snap.
“The biggest aspect for me going forward here is getting my body to a point where that’s not going to be an issue come Game 1,” Wracher said. “As a snapper, it’s definitely tough, but you are blocking for a second or two before you get the punt off. So keeping your technique and your footwork really good is going to make you successful in that area.”
Wracher said long snappers throughout the country are a tight-knit fraternity, who often trade film to offer advice on technique. He said the hardest part of being a long snapper is mental, not physical.
“You are doing the same thing over and over again in high-pressure situations, and you’ve just got to have the mentality you’ve done this 1,000 times, and it’s just another snap,” Wracher said. “I think what separates the good guy from the not-so-good guy is the ability to keep the same mindset and keep the same consistency all of the time.”
IU WBB player gets 6th year
IU junior women’s basketball guard Ali Patberg was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA on Friday.
A Notre Dame transfer from Columbus, Patberg led the Hoosiers in scoring (15.8 ppg) and assists (4.8 apg) last season to earn All Big-Ten second-team honors.
With the sixth year, Patberg will be eligible through the 2020-21 season. Patberg sat out her freshman year at Notre Dame due to an injury and sat out another year while transferring from Notre Dame to IU.
Finnerty wins gold
Former IU swimmer Ian Finnerty won a gold medal in the 100 breakstroke at the World University Games on Friday in Naples, Italy.
Finnerty broke his own meet record he set Thursday with a time of 59.49 seconds.
Another former IU swimmer, Zach Apple, won gold in the 4x100 freestyle relay Thursday and qualified for the finals of the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:47.76.