Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 14, 2013

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: A familiar face in the press box at IU


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — There are times when this really is a small world after all.

One of the first people I encountered in the press box at the Indiana-Bowling Green football game Saturday was one of the Bowling Green SIDs who looked familiar. Turns out it was Jason Knavel who I’ve had dealings with in the past when he worked for Times Union in Warsaw and later when he was the SID at Grace College in Winona Lake.

He is an assistant AD for athletic aommunications at Bowling Green. He has been at the school since November of 2008.

It all starts up front

When IU head coach Kevin Wilson took over the program there was only one offensive lineman weighing more than 300 pounds. Now there are seven on the roster. Not far from reaching that mark is sophomore left tackle Jason Spriggs. The Concord High School graduate is listed at 6-7 (297).

Spriggs entered Saturday’s game with 14 career starts for the Hoosiers. Combined with left guard Bernard Taylor (18) center Collin Rahrig (16) and right tackle Peyton Eckert (18) there were combined 66 career starts.

The 6-2 (285) red-shirt junior Rahrig is a Mishawaka Marian High School product.

The 52 letterwinners have a total of 384 career starts, which was tied for the sixth-most nationally.

Other local IU connections

Also on the Hoosier roster are 6-1 (293) red-shirt defensive tackle Leneil Himes (Plymouth High School), 5-11 (224) red-shirt sophomore Garrett Libertowski (South Bend St. Joseph High School), 6-0 (205) red-shirt sophomore Tyler Lukens (SB St. Joseph), 6-0 (208) red-shirt sophomore Max Matthews (SB St. Joseph) and 6-0 (200) red-shirt junior Justin Nowak (South Bend Washington),

Wilson’s background

Wilson played in the offensive line for the University of North Carolina from 1980-83. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Tar Heels in 1984-86. He then spent a year as the offensive line coach at Winston Salem State and a year as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at North Carolina A&T. In 1989, he became the head coach and athletic director at Foard High School in North Carolina. He was at Miami from 1990-98, at Northwestern from 1999-2001 and at Oklahoma from 2002-2010 before taking the IU job on Dec. 7, 2010.

As a position coach, he has worked with three All-Americans, an Outland Trophy winner (Jammal Brown), a Mackey Award finalist (Jermaine Gresham) and a two-time Remington Trophy finalist (Vince Carter).

Among the current NFL players he has coached are Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (No. 7 overall pick in 2008) and St. Louis Rams quarterback SamBradford (No. 1 pick in 2010).

IU assistant coach

Elkhart Central High School graduate Deonte Mack is a member of the IU strength and conditioning staff. He served as an intern in the 2011 season. He was a four-letterwinner for the Hoosiers in the defensive line from 2007-10. Mack played in 36 career games and totaled 45 tackles, two sacks and three and-a-half tackles for loss.

Area Bowling Green Connections

Coy Brown, 5-11 (221) sophomore backup middle linebacker for the Falcons is a NorthWood High School graduate.

Also on the team’s roster are 6-3 (209) red-shirt freshman wide receiver Gehrig Dieter (South Bend Washington), 6-0 (170) red-shirt freshman defensive back Alphonso Mack (SB Washington) and 6-2 (229) red-shirt freshman Terrance Bush (SB Washington).

Famous grandfather

Junior IU backup quarterback Tre Roberson is a graduate of Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. He won the Indiana Mr. Football Award in 2010. Roberson was the first true freshman QB in Hoosier history when he started the 2011 season. His 2012 season came to an end when he suffered a broken leg in the second game of the season against Massachusetts.

His grandfather, Larry Highbaugh, played defensive back and ran track at IU from 1968-71. He played briefly with the Dallas Cowboys before spending 13 seasons in the Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2004.

Highbaugh played for the British Columbia Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos, During his career with the Eskimos he won six Grey Cups and was a three-time CFL All-Star.