US Lawns Football Camp Preseason Preview: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends


Seth Montgomery |

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – It’s the first week of US Lawns Fall Football Camp and Indiana State Football is back in action at Memorial Stadium as the Sycamores prepare for their upcoming Sept. 1 kickoff against North Alabama.

The Sycamores will be breaking down the team throughout fall camp leading up to the opener in Terre Haute with a position-by-position group preview as well as an opponent preview. In today’s issue, we take a look at wide receivers and tight ends.

From the coordinator

Talented and deep. potential to be really good. Great work ethic. Excited about their future. – Offensive Coordinator mike bad at the wide receivers and tight ends.

position breakdown
Expected starters (based on Preseason Two-Deep): Dante Hendrix, Harry Van Dyne, DaijonCollins, Dakota Caton, Lance Rees, Heinrich woodcock
returnees: Tanner Klein, Michael Vazquez, James Mallory, Jared Kistler, ethane chambers, Kevin Barnett, De Andre Rhodes, Malachi Qualls, Matae Thomas, Tyce Ferrell
Additions/new additions: Zavion Taylor, Harrison Stomps, Kai Rios, Rocco Ciocca

things to see
Hendrix breakout season

Nice to see you’re back Dante Hendrix! The Sycamores wide receiver is back for his sixth year at the Indiana State Blue & White in fall 2021 after a shortened season due to injury. The Florence, Kentucky, native struggled through a midseason injury on his way to finishing with a best 42 catches for 447 yards while scoring three touchdowns in six games. Hendrix would have finished the 2021 season among the MVFC leaders by receiving yards per game (74.5), while his 10.6 yards per reception would also have put him among the best in the valley.

Hendrix was a 2019 First Team All-MVFC receiver in his last full season, finishing among the league leaders in yards (653) and receptions (51). He leads a strong receiving corps and has set an Indiana State record in which he has made at least one catch in 26 straight games. He will likely be targeted early and often during the 2022 season as the Sycamores will have a new primary quarterback up front for the eighth straight season.

Return of Caton
Dakota Caton suffered a preseason injury last year that took the 2021 redshirt junior out of the Sycamores equation. After a year of recovery and working his way back through spring training and summer months, the Sullivan, Indiana native is ready to finally build a strong 2019 campaign. Caton’s open-field skills and speed earned the first team All-MVFC in his final season on the field, when the wide receiver led the conference with 25.5 yards per return and ranked 20th in the national average for return yards. He finished third on the team in catches (21) and added 221 receiving yards in 2019 and was expected to play a big role on the ISU offense in 2021 before his injury.

Caton’s ability to be dangerous on the periphery continues to make him dangerous as the Sycamores have demonstrated their willingness to move players around the field. His playmaking skills will make him a key role in the short passing game as the Sycamores continue to develop under the first-year offensive coordinator mike bad.

The tight end fight

Gone is all do-tight-end Zach Larkin. The former Sycamore finished among the team leaders in receptions (29) and yards received (312) while tied for the team lead with three touchdowns received. The 6-5 athlete leaves a big gap in the middle of the field in the Sycamore passing game, but Indiana State is bringing back several players with experience this year, including Heinrich woodcock, Tyce Ferrelland Lance Rees.

Woodcock and Ferrell are the more established options as both players see action in all 11 games of the 2021 season, with the duo recording 11 catches and 74 yards. Rees wasn’t on the field last season, but the Marshall, Illinois native is a former first team all-conference and all-area select from his high school days and brings a 6-4, 250-pound frame to the field . In addition to the trio, the Sycamores also extend a warm welcome to first-year students Kai Rios and Rocco Ciocca to the mix, both of which are expected to receive additional replays as fall camp progresses to the start of the regular season.

The entirety of the tight end group brings size to the field that will be vital in the Missouri Valley football game. All five active players listed in the position group are at least 6-3 and average 238 pounds as the Sycamores will be using sets that could feature several tight ends this year.

watch numbers

  • 26Dante Hendrix wants to build on an already strong legacy here in the state of Indiana. The Florence, Kentucky native will be looking to continue his ISU-record streak of 26 consecutive games with one reception. He broke the previous mark of Robert Tonyan Jr. (21, 2015-16) last season.
  • 75 – Indiana State’s Reception Corps is experienced, but the ISU took a hit after the withdrawal Rontrez Morgan (39), Phazione McClurge (36) and Zach Larkin (29) as the Sycamores return just 75 of 206 receptions from last season. With a new offensive system and a variety of players expected to line up on the field, new offensive coordinator mike bad will be looking for new weapons to fill in the gaps in the 2022 season.
  • 177.5 – Indiana state pass counts are up a notch from the 2019 season as the Sycamores recorded 1,952 receiving yards in the 2021 campaign. ISU rushed for at least 200 passing yards in four different games last season, including a season-high 243 yards in the season finale win over Illinois State.
  • 140 & 1,781Dante Hendrix enters the 2022 season with 56 catches and 604 yards away from Indiana State’s all-time career mark set by Sam Logan (196 catches, 2,385 yards, 2003-06). In his three active seasons with the Sycamores, Hendrix averaged 593.7 yards and 47 catches per season, but those numbers include injury-related appearances in just six games in 2021 (42 catches, 447 yards). With another typical season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hendrix at the top of the all-time list this year.

Position Group Interviews

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