How big of a recruit is Darius Willis?

Darius Willis smiles at the thought of playing for Bill Lynch.

When he told Indiana head coach Bill Lynch and assistant Billy Lynch that he wold attend Indiana on Sunday morning, the two grown men screamed like little girls.

That big.

Willis, who said he is 5-11 and a half and currently weighs 212 pounds, liked Indiana’s business school. He also saw a chance to earn early playing time.

“Anybody who works hard can play,” he said.

For you IU football junkies out there, complete this sentence: Darius Willis is the most important IU recruit since _______. Then, justify your answer.

I’ll be back in a few minutes with another update.

33 comments

  1. Darius Willis is the most important IU recruit since _______. I can’t put a name in there. Recruits and players are two different things. I am positive that Willis will have a major impact on the Hoosiers running game, but I don’t want to put him up on a pedestal against other past IU players until he has at least suited up.

  2. He’s the most important recruit this year, but lets be honest I want to see him play, we’ve had a couple of highly recruited running backs that haven’t done much yet. Also lets give some credit to recruits of the past James Hardy and Kellen Lewis, they are a big reason as to why we are where we are, even though Hardy was recruited by Mike Davis…

  3. Darius Willis is the most important recruit since Demetrius McCray. If McCray can get healthy and the seven blocks of limestone develop the way their coaches think they will, then we will have a running game next year.

  4. Wow. Who said Bill Lynch wouldn’t be able to recruit?

    This kid is a stud, and it may mean even bigger things, because from this (and Greg Middleton as well) the Hoosiers are starting to reel in some big-time Indianapolis talent.

    I think Willis will play right away. Add him in the mix with a healthy McCray and Bryan Payton, and there’s a very, very solid backfield. I think the best thing would probably move Thigpen to slot receiver and have him catch short screen passes then explode with his speed.

    Kudos to the Lynches. Big sign.

  5. He’s ok but Indiana isn’t a real hotbed for football talent. Most of those who question the Lynch hire did not list being able to recruit indiana as part of their reasoning.

  6. Kenny,

    Actually that was part of the reasoning for hiring Bill Lynch. It’s not so much that Indiana is the best state year in and year out in football talent across the nation but there are individuals in Indiana that are difference makers each year. Prior to Hardy and Lewis, Indianas difference makers were few and far between. If Indiana can pull the top talent out of the state and snag a couple solid recruits from other states then they can be incredibly successful. If you expect Bill Lynch to come in and steal all of Ohios recruits then you are living a dream. The BEST we honestly can achieve at IU is to consistently keep instate recruits at IU. The Indianapolis connection is a big key to that so this is a great get for IU.

  7. Again, recruiting wasn’t my concern. Seeing all the games this year, home games live, I’m very much concerned with our game day coaching and player prep. 7 wins is fine if your expectations are based on past IU football history but if you are objective and look at the talent we had and the schedule we had this year the luster wears off.

  8. It is pretty weak that we are all getting giddy over a guy that is ranked by scout.com as the 43rd best running back in the country. Quite frankly, recruiting in Indiana should not be that difficult because only once in a while is there a player that the big time schools such as Ohio State, Florida, West Virginia, etc. deem worthy of coming to Indiana to recruit. The only competition IU has with Indiana players is…Purdue. Notre Dame doesn’t even recruit in Indiana. If IU wants to perennially be better than a 7 win team, they do have to recruit in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If we as fans are ok with 7 wins every 13 years, I guess Indiana talent will have to suffice

    And I’m with Kenny. Game Day coaching is a big concern for me still. Seeing IU run the draw play over and over and see it not work over and over….just makes me wonder how this guy got this job.

    Go Hoosiers

  9. Ricky and Kenny – Have either of you seen Willis play?

    His front line this year couldn’t push a 200lb DE back, and he still carried for 1700+ yards and 28 TDs against the 12th hardest schedule in the state. He is a very underrated back.

  10. I admit I have not seen him, and I really hope you are right. I will take your word for it that this kid is good. But…should our head coach have screamed like a girl or even given any sort of emotional reaction other than a smile when he found out we got a commit from a possibly pretty good running back? No, its a joke. IU should bring in talent like this and not make a big deal out of it

  11. Kenny G. – your football mind is better than your saxophone skills. Although I’ve followed IU football since 1974, I can’t think of one single play which could have cost as much as the only snap taken by Blake Powers, who promptly threw it to jump-ball land on the sideline, where it was picked off and easily run in for a score. There is no doubt that play cost us the game against Northwestern, and very nearly our chance to play thirteen. If you’re asking me if the decision was Lynch’s (which could be), then Kenny is right about game-day strategy/player preparation. If it was Powers’ decision, even taking a knee to protect the possession is a far better strategy. We must continue to attract top talent to achieve success. Players with 5.4 40’s and 3.8 GPAs.

  12. Puckpusher,
    Problem with what you stated about that pass was that the pass wasn’t thrown by Blake. It was Ben Chappel.
    What you guys keep ignoring is that the offensive game-day calls were made by Matt Canada, not Bill Lynch. And Canada is, without dispute, a good offensive coordinator (as his days at NIU show).
    Re: Game day prep, I don’t see how you guys can say that a team who has three guys go All-American (Hardy, Middleton, and Starr) isn’t good at player prep. It looks like our D-Line was prepared VERY well all season (Top 4 in the country in sacks).
    The play with Chappel wasn’t the best call in the world, but only because it was picked. If that pass is completed (which the pass shouldn’t have been thrown; he should have checked off to his next receiver anyway), then we’re talking about a first down and it’s paid no regard. Quite seriously, the playcalling hasn’t been that bad this year. It’s a pretty young coaching staff, and they’ll get better as we go along. But in all seriousness, Lynch is easily the best candidate we could have gotten at IU. That’s not a knock on anyone else, but Lynch loves the school, has in state connections, and keeps the same staff/system in place for another four years (allowing for some stability).
    And Lynch’s players have been good citizens this year. High character guy.

  13. …but if Rivals and Scout say Willis is only the 43rd best RB in the country then he’ll never be a good player for IU!

    I have to go back to the recruiting message boards now and read the latest rumors. I hear the entire team is suspended and Kelvin Sampson is going back to Oklahoma to coach football.

  14. To get a recruit of this caliber and yeah he may be the 43rd best RB in the nation but you have to consider the rest of the talent coming from the likes of Texas, California, Florida etc. etc.! This is a good recruit for Indiana and will only help in the future. You have to start at the bottom and work your way to the top. I would much rather have Lynch as the coach and keep stability in the system then to start over and listen to naysayers complain about not winning. You can’t go from bottom to top.

    GO HOOSIERS!

    Thank you Darius!

  15. It’s amazing that some people can still find a way to be negative right now.

    We have just recently become competitive. Not great, but solid and competitive with lots of things to build on. And guys like this will help us stay competitive and keep building. And other in state guys will notice this.

    IU football is not IU basketball. We have to fight for every quality football recruit. We’ve made a lot of progress over the past couple years with things looking great for the future.

    A little patience?

  16. Thank you, Jim. I’m very excited about this. It’s nice to land a guy who really wants to be here, who’s obviously worked hard and who can fill a hole for the team. I can’t wait to see who else we get.

  17. Got to say Levron Williams….The last good IU RB in the state of Indiana….

    Signing day/recruiting is one thing; it’s after he graduates and plays that we will know how big this is….

    For recruiting, it’s a huge message to send Purdue and other schools….GET OUT OF THE WAY…

  18. 43rd rated running back in the nation? How accurate are those ratings? and how many running backs are there in the nation? There is no doubt that we snagged a good one. Besides and maybe unrelated….many kids do not fully mature until 1-2 years in college. Look at the walk-on history anywhere. Lynch should celebrate and he is forgiven if he screeches a bit. I am with JIM who wonders why we still have negative comments. A coach must focus on his home region for recruiting. Other recruits from outside of the area will likely have a connection to IU. Take a look at our upcoming opponents roster. Almost every kid is from OK or TX. Congrats Hoosiers. Keep it rolling.

  19. There are those of you questioning how good of a running back he is being ranked #43 in the nation. Let me give you some numbers to think about. In Indiana alone there are 318 schools that play football, lets go conservative and say half those schools have a senior running back. Now say that every state has the same amount of senior running backs, if you do the math, that is 7,950 kids playing running back as a senior in high school last year.

    If that doesn’t perk you up to this kid, look at his stats for his junior and senior years.

    Junior – 231 carries for 1,277 yards and 15 touchdowns.

    Senior – 289 carries for 1,728 yards and 28 touchdowns.

    That is a combined 520 caries for 3005 yards and 43 touchdowns. Remember folks, this doesn’t include his receiving numbers, which I can’t seem to find right now.

    Other things to remember, he is over 210lbs now, will only get bigger and stronger in a better training program, and he already has 4.3 speed.

    If that is not enough for you, the front 5 that are charged with making holes for him, does not have a single lineman that is a solid college prospect to play OL. So he put up those numbers, without a solid line, playing a strength of schedule that was ranked in the top 15 both seasons.

  20. You just have to take my word for it when I say this kid will be getting lots of playing time next year. Then again, you only have to take my word for it until the reports come out next spring/summer.

  21. Definately good news about snagging Darius… But I am still skeptical. Our O-Line hasn’t proven they can run block whatsoever. So I mean 4.3 speed does nothing if you can’t get out of the backfield. Hopefully the line will get better with time.

    Also, I hate to be a synic, but did anyone else notice that the 7 wins we have this year are against teams with a comined 30-53 record? 1 of which came against In. St. who is a Div 1-AA team… And only 2 of our 7 wins came against teams with winning records (both 7-5.)

    Also, our D-Line only seemed to play well against weak teams… People keep talking about sacks and good defensive preperation, but of our 42 sacks this season, 34 came in our wins, which like i said, were against teams with a combined 30-53 record… And against teams like Penn State, who is mediocre at best, we had no way to stop them. They marched up and down the field like they were playing my little brother’s pee wee team.

    I’m not trying to take anything away from the football team, because a bowl game is a bowl game. But before people start talking about how good we are, take a look at the talent of the teams we beat. I mean isn’t that how the BCS works? If i’m not mistaken, strength of schedule plays a pretty big role… So while I’m happy we are getting better recruits and making a bowl game, we still have a LONG WAY TO GO!!

  22. Steve O – The strength of schedule is not supposed to be part of the BCS. Here is how the calculations work:
    The BCS standings formula consists three components, each weighted equally: the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Harris Interactive College Football Poll (former coaches, student-athletes, administrators and media representatives) and an average of six computer rankings (Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe).

    The only computer poll I am familiar with is Jeff Sagarin, and I know he has a SOS component to his calculations, but he is only 1/6 of 1/3 (or 5.5%) of the overall equation.

    Hope this helps.

  23. Either way, don’t you think SOS is just something that’s understood? SOS has to play a HUGE role. If not, why is Hawaii sitting at #10 in the BCS and not playing for the national championship? I garuntee whoever puts out the polls that make up the BCS takes SOS into account, as it should.

  24. Steve O – I am sure it factors into their choices, but SOS is not part of the BCS formula, that is what I was getting at.

    I looked up all 6 of the computer polls for Hawaii, they are as follows:

    Sagarin – 16th (SOS Included)
    A & H – 12th (SOS Included)
    Billingsley – 8th (No SOS Included)
    Colley – 14th (SOS Included)
    Wolfe – 13th (No SOS Included)
    Massey – 10th (SOS Included)

    The average rank of those 6 put Hawaii at 12th, then they are 10th in the other 2 polls, which gives them an average of 10.67, depending on the rankings of those around them set them at 10th.

    I am sure who they played factored into their rankings, as they are 118th+ on SOS, where IU is 64th, OSU is 56th, LSU is 17th.

  25. Point taken… But my point to begin with was that you can’t say IU is that good considering the fact that the teams we beat are a combined 30-53, and only 2 of those teams had winning records… But again, they did win those games, and are playing in a bowl. I would like to see IU win some quality games in the future though.

  26. As would I. They got done just what it takes to get them where they needed to be. If they protect the ball against Penn State, Illinois and Northwestern, the w-l record and final standings for them look drastically different.

  27. I think you can argue our schedule was fairly on par with most of the league and this discussion probably wouldnt exist had we just subbed in one other BCS conference opponent for one of our non-conference games.

    That being said, even if our schedule was weak: so what?

    We had a winning season and we’re going to a bowl game. I’m not sure where the problem is. Would some people have preferred that we play a harder game or 2 and have finished at 5-7, but have the personal satisfaction of having played tougher teams?

    Rome wasnt built in a day. And turning IU football into a team that is consistently ranked and challenging for the Big Ten title is probably more difficult than building Rome. This is a step. Finishing 7-5 and going to a bowl even if we woulda played Edgewood High School is better than anything we’ve had in a long time.

    I agree that if we can sustain this and continue to build the program, we most certainly should branch out and play a successful program from a BCS conference, maybe a couple of them. And, if we can do that successfully we can maybe take the next step. Going out right now and scheduling the toughest we can get doesnt really make any sense. Yes, we can tell ourselves we played the best, and then not enjoy a bowl, extra practice for a month, etc.

    Of course, I hope that we can sustain this success and maybe move up to a Big 10 title run or a consistently ranked team. But, in theory I would rather beat cupcakes and schedule ourselves into a bowl than do what we’ve done the past 13 years.

    Eventually, we’ll raise the bar. Hopefully, we’ll become like Purdont as far as not really being satisfied with just going to any bowl game. I think we shouldnt get too far ahead of ourselves though.

  28. Jim, I would agree that it’s going to take some time for IU to build the type of team that is a consistant winner.

    But the reason I would like to see us play someone other than say Indiana State, Western Michigan, or Troy is so we know how we stack up against the big boys. In order to build this program we are eventually going to have to play some of the elite teams in the country. Thats how you get better. I mean getting to a bowl game by playing cupcakes and then getting our asses handed to us on national tv seems like a waste and not to mention counter-productive since recruits have the chance to watch the games.

  29. I’d agree somewhat, Steve. But, I think we already know the answer. We’re better, but we dont stack up well. Wisconsin whipped us and Ohio State probably wouldve too, as would much of the SEC and others at the top of their BCS leagues. Teams toward the middle of their league like OkState are probably the ones we compete with.

    I realize we will have to and should up the comp in the future if we want to continue to progress. But, I think a weaker schedule is the way to start for a program starting from the bottom.

    I think we should look to schedule a quality opponent from a BCS school for 2009.

  30. Darius is a very talented back. I myself am a junior this year in high school and I played with him at Thomas Carr Howe Academy my Freshman year, before him moving to Franklin. I have wathced him play since then. His line wasnt great and he still managed to put up 1700+ rush yards and 28 TD’s. I have watched IU as well and Darius will be fine. Stop all the negative things about recruiting him and give him a chance. You will see what he is capable of.

  31. To acquire a recruit such as Willis is a reason to scream about. If anyone watched the ESPN skills challenge, all the commentators talked about how underrated he really is. Not only is he 6″ and has 4.3 speed, he also loves contact. Hoosier fans can look foward to a humble talent who seems to have multiple highlights in every game that he touches the ball. Stop the negativity. If this was a blog about coaches it would be fne, but this blog concerns Willis. Let’s leave it at that!

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