BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Two letters, RB, sit next to Jaylin Lucas’ name on the Indiana football roster, but both fall far short of reflecting his talent.
Lucas earned the nickname “The Most Dangerous Man Alive” during his high school years in Louisiana. After the 2022 season, in which he led the nation with two kick-return touchdowns, titles like All-American and Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year were added to the descriptor list.
Lucas said these awards mean a lot and he’s always dreamed of what he’s experiencing now. He sees it as a sign that his hard work is paying off. But as his sophomore season begins in 2023, Lucas’ journey with the Indiana Hoosiers is about more than just himself.
“My main focus is just to win,” said Lucas. “Have a successful program here in Indiana.”
In Tom Allen’s sixth season as head coach, Indiana edged 4-8 against Illinois, Idaho, Western Kentucky and Michigan State. It was the second straight season that Indiana failed to get bowl eligibility after playing into January during the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
Allen and the Hoosiers still need a lot of work to get back to this point, but Lucas is hoping his breakthrough speed can get them there.
“This year, man, everyone’s looking up to me,” the 5-foot-9 Lucas said Saturday. “This morning man about 75 per cent of the football team did extra work and that just made me feel proud and made me realize we are approaching the coming season differently. Everyone is ready to roll this season. Everyone is locked up.”
Lucas finished last season with 49 carries for 271 yards, or 5.5 yards per carry, and two rushing touchdowns. He caught 16 passes for 82 yards and returned 21 kicks for 591 yards and two touchdowns. Lucas’ 28.1 yards per kick return ranked sixth in the nation, but no one equaled his two totals, which came against Rutgers and Michigan State.
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These successes as a freshman in the Big Ten certainly caught the attention of coaches across the country. Given the proliferation of the transfer portal, it rarely comes as a shock when a student-athlete tests their options. But that wasn’t the case with Lucas.
“Here in Indiana, man, it’s all love,” Lucas said. I’m really not worried about them [transfer] portal now. I just feel like this is the best fit for me and I could see myself building a legacy here in Indiana.
Despite impressive numbers, Lucas called his freshman season “just the little things.” He plans to take his game to another level in his sophomore year.
What would that look like for Lucas?
“Take over the game,” he said. “I can say our O-Line is looking very good this year. They did extra work and not like last year. I say my O-Line, they’re definitely going to be tough this year.”
Lucas strives to be consistent this offseason by putting in extra work every day and blocking out outside noise. On the field, he recognized pass protection as his biggest area of needed improvement. He envisions being prominent in the run and kick return games as expected, but Lucas also wants to snap more as a slot receiver to take advantage of his speed.
“I’m just going to be all over the field,” Lucas said. “Just being the main factor with the Hoosiers.”
- INDIANA LANDS TAYVEN JACKSON: Former Tennessee quarterback Tayven Jackson is returning to his home state to play for Tom Allen and the Indiana Hoosiers. Jackson, a former four-star recruit, won two state championships at Center Grove High School and is the younger brother of Indiana basketball star Trayce Jackson-Davis. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA FOOTBALL TRANSFER PORTAL TRACKER: Visit our Indiana Football Transfer Portal tracker for a complete list of Hoosiers who have entered the transfer portal, been drafted in the NFL, exhausted their college eligibility, and players transferring to Indiana for the 2023 season. We will update this list regularly during the off-season. CLICK HERE
- RECRUITMENT CLASS 2023: Indiana signed 16 players during the early signing phase on December 21, including 11 high school players and 5 college transfers. Here’s a full breakdown of each player, complete with quotes from manager Tom Allen. CLICK HERE
- TAYVEN JACKSON VISITS INDIANA: Former Tennessee quarterback Tayven Jackson, younger brother of Trayce Jackson-Davis, attends the Indiana basketball game with Indiana football coaches Tom Allen and Walt Bell. CLICK HERE
- TAYVEN JACKSON ON BROADCAST PORTAL: Tennessee quarterback Tayven Jackson, the younger brother of Indiana basketball star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, has entered the transfer portal. Jackson will be in Bloomington, Indiana for the Indiana vs. Wisconsin basketball game at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. CLICK HERE