Recruiting analysts weigh in on IU’s 2007 football recruits

I talked today with Jamie Newberg of Scout.com and Tom Lemming of CSTV about their thoughts on 2007 football recruiting. After chatting early next week with Bill Kurelic of Rivals.com, I’ll be writing a story on what the recruiting analysts are saying about Indiana and the rest of the Big Ten.

Here’s an early look at some of Newberg’s and Lemming’s comments:

Lemming expects to end up having Indiana’s 2007 recruiting class ranked between sixth and eighth in the Big Ten. He said the Hoosier coaches are good recruiters and have a relentless style, not making big splashes so far with blue-chip recruits, but aggressively going after a lot of players, including the blue chippers.

Lemming has Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State as having the top four 2007 classes so far, and said everybody else in the Big Ten is pretty even at this point. Both Lemming and Newberg said the recruiting class Illinois has put together, coming off a 2-10 season, is the biggest surprise in the nation this year.

Scout.com has Indiana’s class ranked 11th in the Big Ten, but Newberg, who is Scout.com’s national recruiting director, said Hoosier fans shouldn’t worry much about that. He said Indiana looked last season like a team ready to turn the corner and the difference between having your class ranked in the middle of the Big Ten or at the bottom can be just a player or two.

“I think next year is critical for them,” Newberg said of the Hoosiers.

Newberg disagrees with those who focus on recruiting as the deciding factor in a football program’s success.

“It’s also about coaching and developing the kids,” he said. “That drives me crazy when people say it’s not about coaching.”

And this quote might surprise some coming from Newberg:

“(Recruiting) rankings are meaningless,” he said. “You’ve got to trust your coaches.”

Nonetheless, I’ll go ahead and give you Scout.com’s 2007 Big Ten recruiting class rankings at this point: 1. Michigan, 2. Illinois, 3. Ohio State, 4. Penn State, 5. Iowa and Wisconsin (tie), 7. Northwestern, 8. Purdue, 9. Minnesota, 10. Michigan State, 11. Indiana.

Indiana has 14 players who’ve given verbal commitments to be members of the 2007 recruiting class who will make their commitments official on signing day in February