BLOOMINGTON — Redshirt sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot is ready to prove to Indiana coaches he can be counted on for both blocking and receiving this season.
“I would like to believe I’m a catching tight end that blocks,” Hendershot said. “But, in the past, I haven’t gotten the opportunity.”
That opportunity could come in new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s scheme. Hendershot showed flashes of receiving ability as a redshirt freshman last season. The former Tri-West standout from North Salem started 10 of 11 games for the Hoosiers in 2018, making 15 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns. DeBoer is looking to get both tight ends and running backs more involved in the passing offense and is open to taking more shots downfield.
“I was happy with my role last year because I was a first-year guy. When you are in your first year, you don’t expect to get a lot of balls,” Hendershot said. “But now I’ve showed I will do whatever for the team. I blocked a lot last year. I’m excited this year to get some downfield opportunities and show my athleticism.”
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Hendershot spent the offseason working on being able to make tough, contested catches in coverage.
‘It doesn’t matter if people are on me or not because if I want the ball, I gotta be able to catch everything,” Hendershot said.
Hendershot displayed some of his receiving ability during IU’s intrasquad scrimmage over the weekend, making a touchdown catch in the red zone. IU tight ends coach Nick Sheridan said Hendershot is showing more maturity in camp.
“He’s understanding the day-to-day grind of being a big-time football player, and so I’ve been pleased with that,” Sheridan said.
But Sheridan said there’s still plenty Hendershot can accomplish between now and the end of camp.
“There are no physical limitations for Peyton,” Sheridan said. “He’s big and strong. He can run. He can catch. I think a strength of his would just be toughness and competitiveness. He didn’t shy away from anything his first go-around in the Big Ten.
“Things to develop and get better at was more preparation, how you take care of your body, how to take care of your mind so you that you can be your best on Saturdays every fall. I think that maturity has started to set in. He understands the importance of having his body feel fresh, his mind feel fresh and he’s taken the next step to try to prepare in a more mature and a better way.”
Hendershot is inspired by former IU teammate and tight end Ian Thomas, who is entering his second NFL season with the Carolina Panthers. Hendershot played Fortnite with Thomas over the summer and still seeks advice from him occasionally.
“He’s just tells me ‘Do you role,’” Hendershot said. “Never try to go out of it. He blocked a lot when he was here, and I think in the NFL to be a tight end you’ve got to be able to block to stay in there. So just really focus on blocking and whenever the ball gets thrown to you make the most of your opportunities.”
IU held its first intra-squad scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium. IU coach Tom Allen said all three quarterbacks -- redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey, redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. and redshirt freshman Jack Tuttle -- performed well. “It’s still open,” Allen said. “They’ve just got to keep doing what they are doing and find a way to separate themselves a little bit. I don’t know if Saturday made it any easier.” … Allen was pleased with the overall energy and execution in the scrimmage, noting both the offense and defense made big plays. “We had too many holding calls on the (offensive) line,” Allen said. “So we’ve got to work on that. Had a Big Ten officiating crew that was here which is great, to talk to our team, and we even had a couple of pass interference on defense which was good to get those called, but they were costly at key times.” … The Hoosiers held a light, non-contact practice Monday, working mostly on special teams and late-game situations. Senior wide receiver Donovan Hale took a scheduled day off. Sophomore defensive back Reese Taylor remains out with a hand injury, while freshman tight end Gary Cooper is out with a leg injury. … With Taylor out, junior running back Cole Gest is getting additional reps returning punts and kicks. “We’ve been very pleased with how Cole Gest is growing, learning systematically,” IU special teams coordinator William Inge said. “We knew early on that this is very important to him. He’s showing with great action from a detail standpoint he can do what we’re asking him to do.”