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No. 13 Indiana: For former Aggie Camron Buckler, transfer to Hoosiers was all business

Jon Blau
Hookem
Texas A&M wide receiver Camron Buckley makes a catch against South Carolina defensive back Jamyest Williams during their 2018 game. Buckley has transferred to Indiana, where he'll give talented quarterback Michael Penix Jr. another talented weapon.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — What Camron Buckley intends for his final college season, the former Texas A&M receiver wasn’t just wearing it on his sleeve.

As he sat for an introductory Zoom conference with Indiana’s media corps in June, the 6-2, 190-pound transfer from Cedar Hill was wearing a black hoodie with the words “Get money” scribbled all over it in white, cursive lettering.

Intentional or not, it fit his theme. The move from Texas A&M to Indiana was, in Buckley’s words, a “business decision.” He still has hopes of earning a living playing football, and the Hoosiers’ wide-open offense gives him the best opportunity to put his skills on film. Plus, one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in college football, Michael Penix Jr., should be throwing him passes.

Sure, there are other talented athletes in the receivers room at Indiana. But the former Aggie wouldn’t have come to Bloomington if he didn’t think he was going to play. A lot. 

“That would have been a bad business decision,” Buckley said. “But I’m very educated.”

Having evaluated the Hoosiers' option, Buckley is one of three playmaking seniors who decided Bloomington was the best launching pad. Stephen Carr, a former five-star running back, comes over from USC, looking to finally be a featured presence. D.J. Matthews Jr., a lightning-quick slot receiver from Florida State, has similar ambitions as Buckley.

Play well in 2021, and maybe the NFL is a possibility in 2022.

Indiana coach Tom Allen’s program has been able to parlay its trajectory, its promise of getting the most out of its talent, into a perception that it's a suitable landing spot for veterans like Carr, Matthews, and Buckley. Now that player-led workouts have started, the process begins in figuring out what each of them can bring to the Hoosiers offense.

Sep 14, 2019; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Camron Buckley (14) runs after a reception while being pursued by Lamar Cardinals defensive back Jerod Alton (5) during the second quarter  at Kyle Field.

Buckley, who missed 2020 with an ACL injury, provided versatility to the Aggies in three other seasons. Predominantly an outside receiver in high school, he slotted in more as an inside threat at A&M, flexing outside less often. At Indiana, he expects the exact opposite situation, featuring more on the outside with the ability to help in the slot, when needed.

The chance to get those outside reps on film was a big part of Buckley’s business decision. For receivers coach Grant Heard and offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan, it gives them another experienced outside target for Penix with senior Ty Fryfogle and second-year starter Miles Marshall.

Buckley’s best season at A&M came in 2018 as a sophomore, hauling in 34 catches for 474 yards.

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was having a solid season before going down with an injury in the fifth game. Still, he ended up earning second-team All-Big Ten honors anyway. He's back this season.

“Just looking at the offense and with this team, I love what this team is doing, I love what coach Allen is doing, coach Heard is doing with the receiver corps, and we have a great quarterback coming back,” Buckley said. “To come in and be a part of this offense, it means a lot.”

Aside from the on-field benefits in Bloomington, Buckley had some familiarity with the Hoosiers' coaching staff, because he was recruited by Heard when Heard was the receivers coach at Ole Miss. The three-star from Cedar Hill was a sought-after player in the 2017 class, amassing offers from name-brand football programs like Auburn, Texas, Miami and TCU.

That isn’t an abnormally prestigious list for a player from a top Texas high school, and it’s also safe to say Buckley had plenty of competition day in and day out at Cedar Hill. That contributes to his confidence in stepping into Indiana's receivers room as a one-and-done player.

“I’m just taking what life gives me and let it roll,” Buckley said. “Football is football at the end of the day … it’s just different offenses. The route schemes are the same route schemes. Just getting out there is the main thing and just doing my thing. It’s no big adjustment to it. Besides the weather, I guess.”

It will be a few months before the Texas native has to experience a Bloomington winter.

The more pressing concern with Buckley is the strength of his ACL, which he injured last August. But he assessed himself Thursday as being at “95%” of what would be full strength. He went through an entire spring with Texas A&M, and he is out of a brace.

He’s good to go.

“I’m getting adjusted to the offense, smooth offense, easy-to-learn offense,” Buckley said. “I’m having fun out there and having a chance to compete with the guys.”

It’s been fun. But it's also business at Indiana. A good deal, as he sees it.

Indiana firms up its receivers corps, while Buckley lines up for an offense that throws the ball, for a program that's been winning games, for one more prove-it season.

“I educated (myself) in the move,” Buckley said. “Precisely.”

Our preseason Top 25

For the last 12 years, the American-Statesman's sports staff has spent July breaking down our own preseason Top 25 rankings. Last year's eventual College Football Playoff semifinalists ranked first, second, third and ninth in our 2020 poll.

Our previous Top 25 team stories:

No. 25 Ole Miss: Rebels are hoping, banking on good returns from Lane Kiffin 3.0

No. 24 Washington: Huskies' Morris looks like the quarterback to run with — for now

No. 23 Louisiana: Billy Napier could be college football's next big thing (if he wants that)

No. 22 Penn State: Nittany Lions' safeties honed their craft at Lackawanna

No. 21 Oklahoma State: The next Gundy (Gunnar) begins his Cowboys career

No. 20 Iowa: Hawkeyes' Dane Belton knows path to NFL goes through team's success

No. 19 Coastal Carolina: Ready or not, the Chanticleers intend to stay awhile

No. 18 Texas: Bijan Robinson looks ready to carry the load for Longhorns

No. 17 Wisconsin: Spirited spring helped Badgers bond, players say

No. 16 Miami: Manny Diaz seems intent on building Hurricanes from local talent

No. 15 Oregon: Ducks' program is now  reaching recruiting, NFL draft high marks

No. 14 LSU: Questions that Tigers have taken with them this summer