Analysts: Taking Finch from Michigan raises IU’s prospects

The talk on Michigan football message boards today is that the Wolverine coaching staff is making a push to get Jerimy Finch to reconsider his decision to play football at Indiana.

In his public statements since switching his verbal commitment from Michigan to Indiana Sunday, Finch has said he won’t change his mind again. But with a recruit of this caliber, the Hoosiers won’t be able to consider it a done deal until Finch signs a letter of intent on Feb. 7.

Assuming Finch does stick with the Hoosiers, he is the Eric Gordon of Indiana football, a high-profile recruit who has made a splash by changing his mind. The question then becomes whether the Hoosier coaching staff will be able to cash in on the publicity from Finch’s decision to lure other highly sought recruits.

Indiana has only about 3-5 spots left in its 2007 recruiting class, but filling those spots with higher potential athletes, particularly on defense, could make a big difference in the quality of the class as a whole.

Three national recruiting analysts I spoke with Monday said Finch can make this kind of difference for Indiana. They said he’s not only a much-needed athlete for the Indiana defense, but also a recruit who will make other players take a closer look at the Hoosiers. Here’s my story from today’s H-T with those comments:

By Doug Wilson
331-4227/[email protected]

Jerimy Finch’s decision to play at Indiana could mark a turning point for the Hoosier football program, three national recruiting analysts said Monday.

The recruiting analysts said most winning football programs get many of the top recruits in their state year after year, but the Hoosiers haven’t been able to do that in at least a decade.

“I don’t care who you are or where you are,” said Jaime Newberg, national recruiting director for Scout.com. “You’ve got to have a grasp on your state. You’ve got to put a fence around it.

“You have to get the top in-state players to win. But you also typically have to win to get the top in-state players. At some point, there has to be leap of faith.”

In picking Indiana over Michigan and other top programs, Finch has taken that leap, Newberg said.

“We’ve seen some signs that this is a program on the rise,” Newberg said of Indiana. “How far they will ascend, nobody knows. But this is huge for them.”

Finch, a safety from Warren Central, is the top-rated in-state high school player in the class of 2007, according to Scout.com, which also ranks him as the 71st-best senior in the country and the eighth-best safety.

Tom Lemming of College Sports Television (CSTV) has Finch as Indiana’s highest-rated recruit since running back Levron Williams of Evansville Bosse, who committed to the Hoosiers in 1997.

“I knew they were recruiting strong, but I never thought they’d be able to take somebody away from Michigan,” Lemming said.

According to Scout.com East/Midwest regional recruiting manager Bob Lichtenfels, Finch’s decision will help the Hoosier coaching staff attract other top in-state players.

“When the kids in Indiana see a Jerimy Finch go to Indiana, that’s definitely a big deal to them,” Lichtenfels said. “They say if he can go there, why can’t I? I don’t have to leave.”

The recruiting analysts said Indiana also has to succeed in recruiting outside Indiana to have a winning program, but in-state players need to serve as the base of talent for IU’s program.

Even after the commitments of Finch and Warren Central defensive end Jeff Boyd Sunday, Scout.com still has Indiana’s 2007 recruiting class ranked among the bottom half in the Big Ten, along with Northwestern, Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue.

Newberg said Hoosier fans shouldn’t worry about those rankings because Indiana looks like a team that’s ready to turn the corner and is getting players that fit its needs.

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

“It’s not just about recruiting. It’s also about coaching and developing the kids.”

Next season will be critical for the Hoosiers, Newberg said, because they need to build on the progress of last year’s 5-7 campaign if they are to maintain their momentum in recruiting.