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Indiana Football Position Preview: Tight End



As fall camp quickly approaches, Hoosier Illustrated takes a look at each position group for Indiana football. (Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports)

As fall camp quickly approaches and Big Ten Media Days now in the rearview mirror, a critical summer slowly winds down for the Indiana football program.

Ahead of fall camp, will take a look at the position groups on both sides of the ball and break down the state of the position.

Next up are the tight ends.

Indiana’s tight end room took a big hit this offseason with the transfer of AJ Barner to Michigan. Now, it’s not only a thin group, it’s also a very inexperienced one.

There are just two players at the position that are returning who caught a pass last season, and that duo of Aaron Steinfeldt and James Bomba totaled just 11 receptions.

“I love that room as far as just the way these guys work,” IU head coach Tom Allen said earlier this spring. “Coach Wright does a great job developing them, and they need more development.”

More Indiana Football Position Previews: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receivers

Core Group

At this moment, there is no clear go-to player at the position, rather a few guys that will likely battle it out over the coming weeks.

That includes Aaron Steinfeldt, James Bomba and Bradley Archer. While Steinfeldt and Bomba return from last season, Archer is a transfer in from Stanford. While he is a graduate transfer, Archer wasn’t heavily involved in the passing game throughout his career. He caught just four passes in his career, with three coming last season.

He has the body type to be very effective in the passing attack, however, especially in the red zone. Archer is currently listed at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. For the majority of his time at Stanford he was used in the blocking game and on special teams. He’ll likely see action in both aspects this year as well, but I would look for him to make an impact in short yardage and red zone situations as well.

As for the main returners, look for Steinfeldt to be the popular choice to take over the room and stand out in fall camp. He’s already taken a step up this spring. The 6-foot-5 and 255-pounder was one of the most improved players by Allen’s view heading into the summer.

“Aaron is one of our most improved players,” Allen said this spring. “He has grown a lot. He has gotten way more physical. His footwork, his hand placement. He has always had good ball skills. He had a good spring for us. He needs to continue to develop that over the summer.”

Steinfeldt had six catches for 52 yards and one touchdown in 2022, but he went his final four games without a single grab. His best performance was three receptions for 10 yards and his lone touchdown on the year against Maryland.

As for Bomba, the former Miami (Oh.) transfer played similarly to Steinfeldt last year. He finished with five receptions for 22 yards. His best outing was against Purdue in the season-finale, going for 11 yards on two catches.

Another big-bodied tight end, Bomba is listed at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds.

He was out for most of spring practice, so that inability to get extra reps will likely hurt him when it’s time to get into fall camp.

Overall, it’s a room that will likely see this trio make an impact in some capacity, likely the biggest coming from Steinfeldt.

Others Who Could Make an Impact

Outside of that trio, you’re looking at a lot of true or redshirt freshmen who will be on the roster.

To name a few, guys like Ryan Miller, Brody Foley and Sam West have shown flashes of potential throughout this offseason.  West is a true freshman but was someone who surprised the staff this spring with some of the plays he had.

If you’re looking down the line, a wildcard like Trey Walker could potentially step into a specific role. He’s a redshirt senior who has been on the roster for a few years and understands the offensive system. He, like many others in the group, missed time during the spring, so his summer months will go a long way in determining what his role is to start the season.

Overall, you’re looking at a group that has a lot of question and not many answers. There is some potential talent with this unit, but staying healthy is key.

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s important for me to become the best head coach I can be’: Tom Allen taking a step back to — hopefully — take a step forward with Indiana football

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.