Linebacker/safety from Cleveland commits to IU

Dameon Willis, a 6-foot, 208-pound safety/linebacker from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio, announced via Twitter on Wednesday night that he has committed to Indiana. He committed to the Hoosiers over offers from Cincinnati, Wake Forest and Toledo. He is the 12th commitment in the Class of 2014 for Indiana.

8 comments

  1. Another good sign about this commitment is he was recruited by Coach Inge IU’s LB coach. Good speed for a S or LB in the 4.5’s

  2. Ignatius High School in Cleveland produces a lot of D1 athletes in a number of sports. Great well-rounded kids and perennial state Division 1 football finalists/champions.

  3. HC, do you see him as a safety or as a LB? Seems a bit small for a Big Ten linebacker. He’ll have to carry at least 230 lbs to be effective at that position. The speed is excellent though.

  4. Butkus, Singletary, Urlacher, Briggs…Monsters! All hovering around 6-foot. The pounds will come. You can’t teach speed..And there ain’t no physics in a good hit without explosive speed adding exponentially to each power-packed pound. Lateral movement and still being able to turn on the dime while generating the force. Just a plain a simple hunger to hit and deliver force in its most optimal package. Leaders that know they are the heart of the defense. Teachers and men of example that play the game fearlessly and bite off ears and snap ankles at the bottom of piles and spit nails and have bad breath and look a bit deranged in their hunger for collisions and impact that would instantly shatter the bravado most inferior shoulder pad species. A linebacker is so much more than pounds. A linebacker has the back of his line. You come through my line and here’s who you’re gonna have to answer…The last gladiators of sport. Poor me a beer.

  5. Po, Hoping for OLB. On some sights he is listed as 6’1″/211. Presently were are exposed to pass catching TE’s(BGU some, Mizzou a bunch)doing well against us and the reason is we have no starter at OLB who is particularly good in coverage(zero deflections). OLB Funderburk does have 2 deflections though in a backup roll(future may be getting brighter). Our weak pass covering starting OLB cause extra duty the safeties and you know that leads to splitting their focus(our safeties of marginal talent, Allen may become the exception)for possible softness over the top for an opponents aerial game plan. In fact their(OLB)poor pass coverage skills worries me more than their run stopping capabilities. I’ve stitched a lot together here hope it is not too muddy to digest.

  6. Good get, whether he plays at LB or S. You can’t coach speed and this kid has a good deal of it. If he’s a legit 6 feet he could play LB. Chris Borland (another Ohio kid) is a LB at Wisconsin. He’s listed at 5′ 11″ 248, but is probably closer to 5′ 9″. Due to his speed and instincts he’s always near the ball. Willis’ football IQ and frame (ability to put on weight) will ultimately decide where he plays. He’s been well coached at St. I’s and I’m glad he chose IU.

  7. Good summary HC,Po, HfH, Ben-

    Just some random and abstract thoughts re the challenges faced by Indiana football, as we attempt to become competitive in an environment previously dominated by a reduced number of schools that were successfully monopolizing the talent pool of the game by defining the resulting style of play accordingly. (Some variation of what the media termed ‘three yards and a cloud of dust)

    The problem of a team ‘on the build’ like Indiana is a deficit of functions as defined by teams like Ohio State, Michigan and, now, Wisconsin. The challenge is the economics of the system, The supply of the type of players available to successfully compete was/is far short of the demand.

    My assumption is that to be competitive, we can not out-Ohio State>Ohio State (or Michigan or Wisconsin). I do believe that we can be successful by redefining the problem, how we think about the game and how it is played. (Or, how it ought to be played).

    Football has become much more complex in the last decade or so. It is hard to talk of ‘linemen’, ‘linebackers’, ‘ends’, ‘backs’ in the same vocabulary that we used two, three decades ago. Positions are now a matter of covering functions such as ‘stopping the run’, ‘pass coverage’ by linebackers, ‘pass rushing’ (linemen, defensive ends and linebackers’ and ‘safeties with ‘qb rush’ duties…etc. I believe this is the reason why, as the game changes, coaches are looking for multi-functional players such as linebackers who can stuff the run and/or do pass coverage in a vertical thirty yard area, …and more etc. Safeties have to read for run situations where they must become additional linebackers in a split second.

    As I understand it, one of the attractions of Dameon Willis (as an example of this multi-dimensional, multi-functional need, is the fact that he can go either way-as a prospective linebacker or a prospective safety; and, in many situations, do both within the game… or, for some others, possibly something else (have the strength for trap blocking an offensive linesman to allow another safety to stuff a run.

    Physical characteristics of the recruited players and their adaptability become important. So, in examining prospective players, it is also important to consider that growth plates don’t close until early 20’s, and that weights should conform to the limits of body structure and musculature.

    The approach of CKW and his staff seems to take to conditioning can and has shown to change and re-sculpture the players bodies significantly once on campus (we’ve seen that). Thus, their size at 17-18 y.o. is only a relative issue. Speed and particularly quickness (a different term than speed), which offer less variability, become a much more important factor. That (to a great extent) is why I believe these factors influence the decisions leading to recruiting.

    These are no longer simple formulas like that cute TV commercial where an adult sitting with four six year olds says, ‘Is bigger better?’ These are incredibly important questions. How to train and shape the bodies of the prospective players are a matter best left to the professional experts- CKW, his assistant coaches and the physical/conditioning/weight training professional staff (in conjunction with our medical staff).

    That’s why I believe that all we can do is ask questions and trust their answers on those who are educated and trained. This is also the reason why, I believe, CKW has described some of our recruits as ‘athletes’ (we have some now) rather than box them into positions that may not fit their skills and physical qualities once developed.

    Modern football is changing faster than we can think about it. We see that, as successful coaches (at both the pro and college level) are continually renewing their approach to the game and their visions to fit it. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the change of the most successful of coaches, New England Patriots’s Bill Belichik, who seemed all but done after failing with the Cleveland Browns; or the evolution set off by the ‘West Coast offense’ and other more recent transformations of the game to much more open, spread formations and utilization (attack/defense) of spaces.

    I believe this is one innovation that CKW brings to Indiana. Another, is his use of time to neutralize physical size- a very sped up game puts extremely large players at a disadvantage that forces frequent and rapid substitution. Even there, speeding up the pace of plays makes substitution nearly impossible, doubling down on the impact of speeding-up its pace. It could be one reason that explains why multi-dimensional/functional players able to adapt to rapid change are so preferable in CKW’s recruitment strategy.

    It does explain why the decisions that lead to our Saturday afternoon games and Monday morning venting be generally left to those who are educated and trained to make them.

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