Offseason workouts, 7v7 tournaments and showcases have been limited in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas in most years Outside the Huddle would have a pretty good gauge of some of the breakout candidates for the 2020 season, this year we are going off of limited on-field action entering the start of July practice.
That said, some players have still been able to make their mark and rise their stock since the end of last season.
OTH takes a look at six of them.
QB Jeff Becker, junior, Carroll
While Becker amassed over 2,500 total yards a season ago, including over 2,000 yards through the air, the junior did at times struggle against elite defenses in terms of reads, as expected in his first year as a varsity starter.
But an offseason of workouts will help Becker with his decision making, particularly when to exit the pocket and when to stay in and deliver a downfield strike. The 6-foot, 190-pound signal caller rushed for over 500 yards for the Chargers last year, and make some on-the-run throws that were truly remarkable.
He has the chance to emerge as the top quarterback in the area in 2020.
WR Jared Kistler, senior, Homestead
Lost in the accolades put upon guys like Cam Rogers and Jake Archbold at receiver for the Spartans last year was Kistler, who actually was Homestead’s leader in receiving yards at 677.
The rangy 6-3, 205 pounder has packed about 20 pounds onto his frame, giving him the ability to be more physical and combative with defensive backs on jump balls.
Kistler has just a single Division I offer at this time (Bowling Green), but another season of success will change that. He will enter the year as Homestead’s top receiving option. With a new quarterback on tap with the return of Luke Goode unlikely, Kistler will be that safety blanket for whomever is slinging it for the Spartans – believed to be either junior Grady Swing or
LB Domanick Moon, junior, Snider
Moon was overshadowed on defense by the likes of Gianini Belizaire and Jayshawn Underwood in 2019, but the inside linebacker is a safe bet to emerge as one of the best defenders in the SAC this fall.
At 6-2 and 218 pounds, the younger brother of former North Side standout and Eastern Michigan player D’Marcus Moon is the perfect blend of size and speed to be able to penetrate the gaps and blow up a play in the backfield and get to the outside and seal the edge.
Moon, who has scholarship offers from Toledo, Syracuse and Cincinnati, finished last year with close to 30 tackles for the Panthers. Expect that number to double this season.
OL DJ Moore, junior, Snider
No one’s star has risen more rapidly in northeast Indiana than Moore. The 6-4, 295-pound offensive guard has burst onto the scene as one of the top prospects in all the Midwest in the Class of 2022.
Since May 1, Moore has received scholarship offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Oregon and Arizona State.
What impresses the most about Moore is just how light he moves on his feet despite his size. He is not a guy in the trenches who relies on brute strength to make up for sluggishness. He can get the jump at the point of attack then bury you with his upper body power.
As Snider reworks its offensive backfield with the graduation of quarterback Jon Barnes Jr. and lead running backs Lenny Bennett and Kam Trotter, Moore and the offensive line will be huge in making the new faces feel comfortable.
QB Duce Taylor, senior, North Side
When it comes to velocity and arm strength, there is no doubting that Taylor is tops in the area. But throwing the ball 50 yards downfield is more impressive when you can put it on target.
That is what Taylor has looked to refine in the offseason. While the senior was plagued by wide receivers dropping passes last year, he also had a tendency for balls to sail on him as well while completing just 41 percent of his passes in 2019.
Expect that percentage to rise considerably in 2020. Taylor shined at the Midwest Exposure Skill Camp in Fort Wayne late last month, putting throw after throw both inside and outside the pocket on target to receivers.
With several MAC offers in hand, Taylor is on target to head to a Division I program following graduation, but first he will attempt to lead North Side to its first winning season since 2013.
LB/RB D’Andre Wright, senior, New Haven
If New Haven coach Jimmy Linn uses Wright in a similar way to last season, the senior could end up being one of the top two-way players in the area.
Wright made his mark on defense at middle linebacker by being quick assassin, blowing up plays in the backfield with 18 TFL to go with 52 tackles and four sacks.
Offensively, Wright rushed for nearly 400 yards and also showed some ability as a receiver with a handful of catches.
At the Midwest Exposure Skill Camp, the 6-2, 215-pound Wright opened eyes at his ability to pick up a receiver and stay with him in coverage. His solid hands utilized by the Bulldogs on offense also came in handy with some impressive interceptions in coverage.
Wright does not have any Division I offers at this time, but that could change, especially with a superb 2020 season.
OTHER NOTABLES: QB Luke Haupert, Snider; OL Landen Livingston, Leo; OL Chris Hood, East Noble; QB Greg Bolt, Columbia City; WR Ethan Chambers, Homestead;