Indiana Hoosiers’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Kurtis Rouke, Donaven McCulley

    Indiana heads into 2024 under Curt Cignetti, who brings a talented crop with him, bolstering the top 10 returning players for the Hoosiers this fall.

    It is a new era in Bloomington under Curt Cignetti, who is tasked with taking over a team that has only had two winning seasons in the last decade. The new Indiana Hoosier head coach comes from James Madison, which had an 11-2 record in the Sun Belt in 2023.

    A talent group of players have followed the former Dukes’ head coach to the Hoosiers, who look set to be more talented and productive in 2024.

    Indiana Hoosiers’ Top 10 Returners in 2024

    Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes on each team’s roster page to open spring camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

    10) Mike Katic, OL

    The offensive line unit hasn’t dominated in recent seasons but still has individual talent. Offensive line coach Bob Bostad has increased its impact enough to be retained on staff by Cignetti after seeing a massive improvement in 2023. Mike Katic has been a mainstay with 37 career starts, 27 of those coming at left guard.

    However, many see Katic’s best position as center, where he has previously started in Bloomington. With the professional game potentially lurking, the longtime Hoosier offensive lineman may play center in 2024.

    9) Aiden Fisher, LB

    This list of Indiana’s top 10 returning players has a theme: Cignetti has brought talented players who can start instantly in Bloomington. Linebacker Aiden Fisher is one of them. He had an excellent 2023 season, earning third-team All-Sun Belt honors.

    In his sophomore season, Fisher registered 108 tackles, six for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, and seven pass breakups. Heading into his junior year in the same scheme, Fisher must replicate Aaron Casey’s success with the Hoosiers.

    8) Jamier Johnson, DB

    Jamier Johnson transferred to Indiana ahead of the 2023 season from Texas with immense expectations and hype. However, he only appeared in four games before suffering a season-ending injury. Although he has never put an entire season together to display his full potential, 2024 can be that year.

    With several players leaving the program, Johnson will be the Hoosiers’ CB1. If he can stay healthy, he can prove why there are high expectations of the former four-star recruit.

    7) Elijah Sarratt, WR

    Elijah Sarratt is one of several players who have followed Cignetti from James Madison through the transfer portal, and he is expected to have a big year in 2024. In one year with the Dukes, Sarratt had 82 receptions for 1,191 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 starts, including five games with over 100 yards. Now, he looks to apply his trade in the Big Ten.

    Starting his career at Saint Francis (Pa.) before moving to James Madison, Sarratt has stepped up a significant level before. There is no reason he can’t transition his ability to the Big Ten and win against elite competition.

    6) Lanell Carr, DE

    Lanell Carr had a productive first year with Indiana after transferring from West Virginia in 2023. He displayed a versatile skill set in the Hoosiers’ defense, and his return to Bloomington greatly boosts the program. He could be even better in 2024.

    MORE: 2024 Indiana Hoosiers Football Roster

    A year ago, Carr had 33 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, five sacks, and two pass breakups in 10 starts, and he can produce even more this fall. Under defensive coordinator Bryant Haines, Carr can reap the benefits of a scheme change, allowing him to flex his versatility.

    5) Carter Smith, OL

    Carter Smith returns to the Hoosier program for the 2024 season, deciding to head back to Bloomington after initially entering the transfer portal. His return is significant for the Hoosiers as he has the potential to be one of the best tackles in the Big Ten if he can continue his development.

    Starting 12 games at left tackle in 2023 as a redshirt freshman, Smith visited some prominent programs before deciding to return and will lead the Hoosiers offensive line into the new season.

    4) James Carpenter, DT

    James Carpenter is another former James Madison player who headed to Bloomington in 2024 as Cignetti puts faith in the transitional capability of players who helped deliver success to the Dukes. A year ago, Carpenter won All-Sun Belt honors and had 53 tackles, nine for a loss, four sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble in 13 starts.

    Over Carpenter’s five-year career, he has appeared in 40 total games and has amassed 141 total tackles, 28 for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. If the humongous defensive tackle can replicate the same success he had in the Sun Belt in the Big Ten, he will be a havoc wrecker up front.

    3) Donaven McCulley, WR

    Donaven McCulley is another player Cignetti talked out of leaving via the transfer portal. He will return to Bloomington for the 2024 season after being the team’s leading receiver last fall. The Hoosiers’ wide receiver room will be much improved in 2024, and McCulley will look to improve his production from a year ago.

    In 2023, McCulley received 48 catches for 644 yards and six touchdowns, leading the team in every metric. He will have more competition in 2024, but the quarterback convert has the experience and talent to be even better in the fall.

    2) Mikail Kamara, DE

    Mikail Kamara is the exact player Indiana needed to insert into their defensive front. The former James Madison product transferred to Bloomington looking to wreak havoc in the Big Ten. In just 23 games with the Dukes, Kamara recorded 26.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks, proving he can succeed within the scheme.

    Like all the James Madison transfers, he must prove he has what it takes to produce in the Big Ten. However, Kamara started 12 games in 2023, coming off a season-ending injury in 2022, and has the speed and strength to win with the Hoosiers.

    1) Kurtis Rouke, QB

    Kurtis Rouke is potentially the most significant transfer portal addition for Cignetti and the Hoosiers offense, who should be able to excel in Mike Shanahan’s scheme. The former Ohio QB enters Bloomington with immense talent, having established multiple program records and earning MAC Player of the Year honors following an electric 2022 campaign.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Big Ten Weekly Schedule

    It is a game-changing signing for the Hoosiers, who will hope to keep Rouke healthy and get him back to his best. The quarterback tore his ACL in the MAC championship game in 2022 and then had to exit games in 2023 due to nagging setbacks.

    However, he still was named second-team All-MAC last fall. With one year remaining of eligibility, Rouke hopes to rekindle his stock and potentially head to the NFL.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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