Aaron Casey highlighted a group of six Indiana football players who were recognized on one of Phil Steele’s All-Conference or All-American squads for the 2023 season.
Jaylin Lucas, Andre Carter, Sean Wrachner, Donaven McCulley and James Evans were the other Hoosiers nominated by the publication.
Casey was named a second-team All-American as well as first-team All-Big Ten by the publication. The redshirt senior linebacker was one of the bright spots during a difficult season for Indiana football.
In 2023 Casey finished the regular season second nationally in tackles for loss with 20.0, he also made 78 solo tackles which also led the Big Ten.
Casey finished 109 total tackles which was fourth in the conference as he became the first player to make 100 tackles in a season by an Indiana football player since Tegray Scales (126) did it in 2016.
Sophomore Jaylin Lucas was named to Steele’s All-Big Ten second team as a punt returner.
After an explosive freshman season as a returner where he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, many teams avoided kicking to Lucas at all costs. Despite that, Lucas was still able to be dangerous in the return game, averaging 26 yards per return including an electric 100-yard kick return touchdown against Purdue.
After another explosive season for Indiana football, Lucas entered the transfer portal and has not decided where he will be playing next season.
Defensive lineman Andre Carter was named to the Big Ten’s third team. In his first and only year with Indiana football, Carter was extremely disruptive on the defensive line.
Carter made 49 tackles including 11.0 tackles for loss in 12 games. Carter also had two sacks and was ranked No. 8 in the Big Ten in total pressures with 32 according to Pro Football Focus.
Fifth-year senior long snapper Sean Wrachner was also named to the conference’s third team. Wracher snapped in all 57 games of his career and was a played a big part in the success of the Indiana punting unit.
Wrachner has been named to a Phil Steele All-Big Ten team every year of his career.
In his second season as a wide receiver, Donaven McCulley was named to the Big Ten’s fourth team. McCulley had a breakout year in 2o23 where he led Indiana football in catches (48), receiving yards (644) and touchdowns (six).
The 6-foot-5 quarterback turned wide receiver ended the season on a tear, establishing himself as one of the best pass catchers in the conference. In the Hoosiers’ final five games of 2023, McCulley caught 28 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns.
After entering the transfer portal, McCulley announced he would be returning to Indiana to play for new head coach Curt Cignetti.
Indiana punter James Evans was also named to the conference’s fourth team. Evans broke the school record for punting average last season when he averaged 45.8 yards per punt.
Evans’s longest punt was 70 yards and had 22 punts travel over 50 yards. His punting average was third in the conference and 15th in the country.
Below is the full release.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Redshirt senior Aaron Casey earned yet another accolade on Monday (Dec. 18) as he landed on Phil Steele’s second-team All-America squad. The linebacker was also named to the first-team All-Big Ten list by the publication.
Sophomore Jaylin Lucas was Steele’s All-Big Ten second team punt returner, while defensive lineman Andre Carter and long snapper Sean Wracher each were named to the conference’s third team. Wide receiver Donaven McCulley and punter James Evans each earned fourth team distinction.
Casey was among the nation’s best at the linebacker position with 109 tackles on the season, which included a Big Ten-best 20.0 tackles for loss – a total that ranked No. 2 in the FBS at the end of the regular season. The only FBS defender with multiple games of 4.0 tackles for loss or more, Casey ranked No. 2 nationally in TFLs, while his 19 solo tackles for loss led the nation.
In 2023, Casey led the Big Ten and ranked No. 2 nationally in tackles for loss (20.0) and solo tackles (78). His 109 total tackles sit No. 4 in the Big Ten and No. 23 in the FBS and mark the first 100-tackle season by an IU defender since Tegray Scales (126) in 2016. He led the Power 5 with 22 tackles for loss or no gain per Pro Football Focus.
His 20.0 tackles for loss are tied for No. 4 on the single season charts with Nathan Davis (1995) and were the most by an IU defender since Scales’ 23.5 in 2016. Of his 20.0 tackles for loss, 19 of those were solo TFLs, which led the FBS. His career total of 36.0 tackles for loss finished No. 8 all-time at IU, just one behind Micah McFadden‘s career total (37.0).
Casey is the 12th linebacker in Indiana history to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors and the third since 2017. He joins Scales (2017) and McFadden (2020) as the most recent to win the award. In 2023, Casey was the first IU defender to earn multiple Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week awards in a career and gave IU two defensive weekly award winners for just the second time in a single season.
Even with teams kicking short or electing for out of the end zone, Lucas was still the highest-rated kickoff return man in the FBS among specialists with 25-or-more returns on the season. His 572 kickoff return yards led the Big Ten, was No. 5 among Power 5 returners and sat ranked No. 14 in the FBS. His 100-yard kickoff return against Purdue tied for the longest play in IU history and was one of 10 returns of 100 yards in the FBS during the 2023 season, the only 100-yard effort in the Big Ten.
In 2023, Lucas finished with 1,108 all-purpose yards, the most in a season since Stevie Scott III (1,223) in 2018. His total included 572 kickoff return yards, 275 rushing yards, 247 receiving yards and 14 punt return yards. He accounted for five total touchdowns – 1 return, 2 rushing and 2 receiving – and led the team with 101 offensive touches during the season.
Carter was among the most disruptive defensive linemen in the Big Ten and finished his one season on campus with 49 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Per Pro Football Focus, Carter ranked No. 8 in the Big Ten in total pressures (sacks, hits and hurries) at 32 and his 697 total snaps played were No. 4 among Big Ten defensive linemen.
In 12 games played, Carter had at least 1.0 tackles for loss in seven games and posted four games with multiple tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Detroit, Michigan, native began the season with 2.0 tackles for loss in each of the first two games. That total was the best start to a season since 2004 when Kyle Killion posted 5.5 tackles for loss in games versus Central Michigan and Oregon.
In his fifth and final season, Wracher continued his duties as the team’s primary long snapper. The Akron, Ohio, native appeared and snapped in all 57 games of his five-year career. His work with the punt unit helped Evans maintain an average of 45.8 yards per punt in 2023, the best single season mark in Indiana program history. The fifth-year senior has been named to a Phil Steele All-Big Ten team each season of his career.
In his second season at wide receiver, McCulley started 11 of 12 games on the outside and caught a team-best 48 passes for 644 yards. His six touchdown grabs were the most on the team and five came over the last five weeks of the season. He caught 60 percent of his targets during the season and his 10 contested catches ranked No. 3 among Big Ten wideouts in 2023.
His 48 grabs were tied for No. 10 in the Big Ten, his six touchdown catches ranked tied for No. 6 in the conference and a 13.4 yards per catch average ranked tied for No. 14 on the B1G charts. His six touchdowns led the team in 2023 and are the most by a wide receiver since Ty Fryfogle caught seven in 2020. His 48 catches are the most since Whop Philyor hauled in 70 during the 2019 season.
With a school-record punting average of 45.8 yards per punt, Evans blasted past Drew Hagan‘s mark of 44.8 in 1999. Of his 57 punts, 22 traveled over 50 yards, with a long punt of 70 yards. His punting average ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 15 nationally.
A three-year anchor on special teams, he owns 201 punts in his career and is just the fifth Hoosier to reach the 200-punt mark in a career. With a career 43.9 yards per punt average, Evans ranks No. 1 on Indiana’s career charts, more than a full yard ahead of Alan Sutkowski (42.5 ypp; 1995-97).
SEE ALSO: ‘There will be no self-imposed limitations’: Curt Cignetti avoiding complacency and already changing the expectation around Indiana football
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