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B1G shoes to fill: Indiana Hoosiers

Zander Diamont is among the candidates looking to fill the very large shoes of Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

After taking a step forward last season, the Indiana Hoosiers are going to need a handful of new stars to emerge in critical spots in order to keep the momentum going for coach Kevin Wilson. The Hoosiers might not find all their answers during spring practice, but the search and the competition are already well underway as they try to keep pace in the rugged East Division.

B1G shoes to fill: QB Nate Sudfeld

Why: Replacing the starter at this position would immediately go to the top of the priority list for any team, let alone one losing the most productive passer in the Big Ten. Sudfeld’s arm strength, accuracy and knowledge of the offense are all going to set a high bar for his replacement, but his veteran presence and leadership only added to his value for the Hoosiers in his final campaign.

Replacement candidates: Zander Diamont (6-foot-1, 174 pounds, junior), Danny Cameron (6-foot-1, 210 pounds, redshirt sophomore), Richard Lagow (6-foot-6, 240 pounds, redshirt junior)

The skinny: Diamont has the edge in experience and he’s shown some explosiveness as a rushing threat, but his appearances so far off the bench haven’t really revealed much about his upside as a passer. The Hoosiers landed the top junior-college arm on the market, though, and Lagow’s physical tools look pretty similar to Sudfeld’s as he arrives to try to win that vacant job. Lagow threw for nearly 2,300 yards and tossed 21 touchdowns at Cisco College in Texas, and with Diamont currently recovering from offseason surgery, he could benefit from the head start in the spring.

B1G shoes to fill: RB Jordan Howard

Why: The Hoosiers made it look easy to replace one star tailback with another when Howard arrived to replace Tevin Coleman, but pulling off that trick might not be as simple this time without a transfer with NFL ability and immediate eligibility on the market. Injuries kept Howard from reaching his statistical potential last year, but he still rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 9 touchdowns during his lone season with Indiana.

Replacement candidates: Devine Redding (5-foot-10, 205 pounds, junior), Mike Majette (5-foot-11, 204 pounds, sophomore), Camion Patrick (6-foot-2, 223 pounds, redshirt junior)

The skinny: There’s no question that Redding will lead the way in the backfield for the Hoosiers after topping the 1,000-yard mark and matching Howard’s nine touchdowns while coming off the bench. But as Indiana found out again last season, depth at that spot is invaluable given the pounding tailbacks can take in the Big Ten, which still leaves a bit of a hole to fill for the ground game. Majette has also enjoyed some success in a complementary role already in his career, and now that he’s eligible, Patrick could prove to be a dangerous threat as well.

B1G shoes to fill: LT Jason Spriggs

Why: The veteran was one of the best blockers in the country a year ago, and the stability Spriggs provided on the line is not going to be duplicated easily. The Hoosiers will have some tough decisions to make as they try to replace a guy who could be headed for a long career in the NFL.

Replacement candidates: Brandon Knight (6-foot-5, 290 pounds, sophomore), Dimitric Camiel (6-foot-7, 310 pounds, redshirt senior), Delroy Baker (6-foot-6, 305 pounds, redshirt sophomore)

The skinny: If the Hoosiers decide to stick with Camiel on the right side after he started there in all 13 games a year ago, they’ll need one of their youngsters to emerge at a crucial spot to help protect a new quarterback. Baker had a redshirt season to help develop physically and has the potential to be a useful piece on the offensive line. But it’s Knight heading into his true sophomore campaign that seems to be the more intriguing option for Wilson in the early stages thanks to his versatility and athleticism -- which he showed off last season with a touchdown catch against Purdue while playing tight end. There’s plenty of time for that to change in what could be one of the most important position battles on the roster.