Wednesday was Kevin Wilson’s third National Signing Day, but in a sense, he feels like it’s his first “full-recruiting cycle.”
His first class was mostly made up of recruits that his predecessor, the then-recently fired Bill Lynch, had recruited as well as a few he cobbled together after getting the job in December. Last year’s class was all his players, but it was a group he only got to physically watch in their senior year.
This year’s group he spent some time getting to know. He had two years to follow their high school games, to host them at seven-on-seven tournaments, and actually coach them at camps. They know him, and he knows them.
“I really believe in my opinion this is our first what I would consider full recruiting cycle,” Wilson said. “Because we had a chance to see these guys as young kids. Our first yer, this time of year, we had had one month to recruit these guys and get guys. … December and January a year ago, I was seeing some of these juniors. These kids in our state, these kids in the Midwest, so you’re kind of seeing these guys. You’re at their basketball games. You’re at practices. You’re limited in how you can contact them, but you get that early relationship going. And even though this is on paper our third class. I think it’s the first ‘full-cycle’ when we got a chance to really get to know coaches, players, sell the product. Get them on campus, get them connected with our kids, our program. I think also our program, our kids being able to sell what we’re trying to do. I don’t know if our players could’ve done that the first year. I don’t know if our kids were really into it Year 2. But now, year 3, I think we’re very stable. I think we’ve got some solid foundation that we’ve built that I think we’re standing on and I think we’re building and moving forward.”
Beyond that, the recruits in this class also helped recruit each other. The five in-state recruits — Allen, Kenney, Latham, athlete Chase Dutra and wide receiver Isaac Griffith — are all friends and they helped convince each other to go to Indiana.
“One guy wanted to commit early, and I’m always like, ‘Why?'” Wilson said. “Not, ‘Great,’ but ‘Why?’ Because I don’t like the commit, then we start shopping around, because that’s not a commitment. … I got two comments over and over. ‘I really felt a connection to your players, and I really feel a connection to your recruits. I feel a family, and I fit in.’ And I said, ‘Well that means a lot to me, because I’m talking about good people in our program.’ So those guys connected, got to know each other, and I’m sure that helped.”
Therefore, it’s not coincidental that Indiana not only posted it’s highest rated recruiting class in Wilson’s tenure, but also the highest rated recruiting class since the Rivals.com network started archiving recruiting rankings in 2002. Thanks to Wednesday’s additions, the class jumped into the top 50 according to just about every recruiting network and was ranked No. 5 in the Big Ten and No. 41 overall by Rivals.com.
“It looks good on paper for what that paper’s worth,” Wilson said.
The Hoosiers added four players on Wednesday — and also lost a commitment in cornerback Nigel Tribune — to finish with a class of 22 players. Running backs Laray Smith (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Daryl Chestnut (Miami, Fla.) and defensive tackles Maurice Swain (LaGrange, Ga.) and Chris Cormier (Arizona Western Community College) all committed and signed letters of intent on Wednesday and 18 others who had been verbally committed put pen to paper on the first day of the signing period.
The class is headlined by four four-star recruits, exactly three more than the Hoosiers had landed in the decade-plus history of rated and recorded recruiting. Three of those — defensive end David Kenney (Pike), safety Antonio Allen (Ben Davis) and defensive tackle Darius Latham (North Central) were in-state commitments. The fourth is cornerback/athlete Rashard Fant, who will be primarily focused on defense but could also be used to return kicks.
Wilson said he was most pleased with the overall speed of the group. Two of the recruits — Smith and wide receiver Anthony Young — are also expected to compete with the Indiana track team, but Wilson said the speed of some of the defensive linemen is just as impressive.
“Those two guys are good football players,” Wilson said of Young and Smith. “It’s nice they got great track times, but I think the speed of the big guys is better than the kids we’ve recruited. Danny Friend can run for a big man. Evan Jansen can run for a big tight end. Those ‘backer kids can run. I think there’s just good solid, better team speed, which we’re gonna need across the board.”
it’s obvious that the Hoosier filled their needs as well. With senior defensive tackles Adam Replogle, Larry Black Jr. and Nicholas Sliger all graduating, the Hoosiers invested a lot of scholarship money in the defensive line. Six of the 22 players are on the defensive line, including Kenney, Latham, Swain, Cormier, defensive end Patrick Daugherty and JUCO recruit Jordan Heiderman.
The release from IU follows.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana head football coach Kevin Wilson announced Wednesday the signing of 22 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play for the Hoosiers in 2013.
“We executed our plan very well and are excited about this class,” Wilson said. “We are very fortunate to have a good amount of returning starters, but we backed that up with, what on paper, is a very, very strong class, which is critical in building our program. There is potential to help on the defensive side, up front, at linebacker and on the perimeter. Offensively, we have 14 returning linemen and three quarterbacks. With those returners, we were able to concentrate on some other positions, including running back, wide receiver, tight end and the defense.”
IU signed 13 defensive players, five offensive players and four athletes. The Hoosiers added six defensive linemen, four linebackers and three defensive backs on defense and two tight ends, two wide receivers and one running back on offense.
The class features players from eight different states, including five from Indiana, five from Florida, four from Georgia, four from Ohio, one from Illinois, one from Nebraska, one from Louisiana and one from New York.
“We recruit as a team,” Wilson said. “There was not one lead recruiter on any one student-athlete. We had multiple coaches going to schools over and over, whether it be the area coach, the assistant coach, the position coach, the coordinator or me. We also had tremendous behind the scenes administrative help and support. It was a great team effort that put together what is a very strong class.”
NOTES ON CLASS
* Steven Funderburk, Jordan Heiderman and T.J. Simmons are currently enrolled in classes for the spring semester and will participate in spring practice.
* Four of the top 10 players in Indiana are in the class: Darius Latham (No. 3), Antonio Allen (No. 5), David Kenney (No. 6) and Chase Dutra (No. 9).
* Allen is the first Hoosier to ever participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He is ranked the No. 19 safety nationally by ESPN.com and the No. 231 prospect overall by Rivals.com. Allen was a high school teammate of IU redshirt freshman wide receiver Caleb Cornett.
* Kenney is the No. 11 weak-side defensive end nationally and the No. 244 prospect overall by Rivals.com.
* Latham is the No. 14 defensive tackle nationally and the No. 239 prospect overall by Rivals.com.
* Rashard Fant is rated the No. 14 athlete nationally, the No. 16 prospect in Georgia and the No. 147 prospect overall by ESPN.com. He also played in the 2013 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, along with Kenney.
* Anthony Young is an All-American sprinter in four events and owns 10 state championships in the state of Ohio.
Here is a list of Indiana’s 2013 signees:
|Enrolled||Steven Funderburk||Highlights||LB||6-3||231||Port St. Lucia, Fla. (Iowa Western C.C.)|
|Enrolled||Jordan Heiderman||Highlights||DL||6-3||280||Norfolk, Neb. (Iowa Western C.C.)|
|Enrolled||T.J. Simmons||Highlights||LB||6-0||230||Lakeland, Fla. (Lakeland H.S.)|
|7:04 a.m.||Antonio Allen||Highlights||DB||5-10||205||Indianapolis, Ind. (Ben Davis H.S.)|
|7:24 a.m.||Isaac Griffith||Highlights||WR||6-0||180||Fort Wayne, Ind. (Homestead H.S.)|
|7:27 a.m.||Anthony Young||Highlights||WR||6-1||175||Lakewood, Ohio (St. Edward H.S.)|
|7:31 a.m.||Evan Jansen||Highlights||TE||6-4||245||Mason, Ohio (Moeller H.S.)|
|7:38 a.m.||Myles Graham||Highlights||ATH||6-0||215||Miami, Fla. (Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory)|
|7:42 a.m.||Patrick Dougherty||Highlights||DL||6-5||260||Aurora, Ohio (Aurora H.S.)|
|7:45 a.m.||Clyde Newton||Highlights||ATH||6-1||215||Punta Gorda, Fla. (Charlotte H.S.)|
|7:57 a.m.||Chase Dutra||Highlights||ATH||6-1||205||Brownsburg, Ind. (Brownsburg H.S.)|
|8:00 a.m.||David Kenney||Highlights||DL||6-2||250||Indianapolis, Ind. (Pike H.S.)|
|8:08 a.m.||Marcus Oliver||Highlights||LB||6-1||220||Hamilton, Ohio (Hamilton H.S.)|
|8:22 a.m.||Kris Smith||Highlights||LB||6-2||215||Flowery Branch, Ga. (Flowery Branch H.S.)|
|8:25 a.m.||Danny Friend||Highlights||TE||6-5||240||Morris, Ill. (Morris Community H.S.)|
|8:38 a.m.||Noel Padmore||Highlights||DB||5-11||175||Flowery Branch, Ga. (Flowery Branch H.S.)|
|8:54 a.m.||Darius Latham||Highlights||DL||6-5||291||Indianapolis, Ind. (North Central H.S.)|
|9:05 a.m.||Christopher Cormier||Highlights||DL||6-2||315||New Iberia, La. (Arizona Western C.C.)|
|9:39 a.m.||Rashard Fant||Highlights||DB||5-10||165||Atlanta, Ga. (Our Lady of Mercy H.S.)|
|10:33 a.m.||Maurice Swain||Highlights||DL||6-5||305||LaGrange, Ga. (Troup H.S.)|
|10:57 a.m.||Laray Smith||Highlights||ATH||6-0||185||Staten Island, N.Y. (Xaverian H.S.)|
|11:01 a.m.||Daryl Chestnut||Highlights||RB||5-10||190||Miami, Fla. (Christopher Columbus H.S.)|