Simon Stepaniak, a 6-foot-4, 287-pound offensive guard from Ross High School in Hamilton, Ohio, posted on his Twitter account on Saturday that he has committed to Indiana. He is IU’s first commitment for the Class of 2015.
Simon Stepaniak had 14 scholarship offers and had a chance at more if he held his decision off until the fall.
The 6-foot-4, 287-pound offensive lineman from Ross High School in Hamilton, Ohio already had an offer from Penn State, Minnesota and Illinois in the Big Ten as well as Cincinnati, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Syracuse. Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Carolina and Clemson all had plans to go to Ohio to see him.
But Stepaniak was fond of Indiana from the time the Hoosiers started recruiting him, and decided Saturday on a visit to Bloomington that he didn’t want to wait anymore. Stepaniak announced on his Twitter account on Saturday that he had committed, becoming Indiana’s first verbal commitment in the Class of 2015.
“He’s been in love with Indiana from the get-go,” Ross coach Brian Butts said. “They met with him last summer, going into his junior year, and he was just really impressed with the coaching staff. … He just thought the time was right.”
Stepaniak is a three-star recruit, rated the No. 38 recruit in the state of Ohio by Rivals.com. He plays left tackle at Ross, but Butts expects him to move inside because his height is not quite what is demanded at the tackle position in college.
Still, Butts thinks he can make a major impact.
“The only thing that kept him from being a five-star kid is he’s not 6-7 or 6-8,” Butts said. “And he didn’t go to a lot of those Rivals camps, so those people didn’t get a chance to rate him in person.”
Butts said Stepaniak is a perfect fit for the guard spot because he can pull and block out in space. He said Stepaniak runs a 5.0-second 40-yard dash, which allows him to take out defenders in front of ball carriers.
“I think the thing people are most impressed with is the way he comes off the ball,” Butts said. “… He’s a 290-pound kid who can run as fast as most high school running backs. He’s got some wheels on him. He can get to that next level, into the linebackers in the secondary, and he’s punishing when he makes blocks. He’s got a lot of pancake blocks. He gets his hands on you and rolls his head, and it’s pretty impressive.”
Butts said that Ross’s right tackle from last season, Gavin Peacock, will enroll at IU in the fall as a preferred walk-on. WIth the two of them together on the line, Butts said, Ross had 500 yards of offense in each of the first three games last season.
“He’s very efficient,” Butts said of Stepaniak. “He doesn’t miss assignments. I’m just glad I have him for one more year. I’m going to be pulling my hair out trying to find another one like him.”