Omari Stringer probably would’ve committed to Indiana regardless of the Hoosiers’ defensive front. The 6-foot-4, 208-pounder from Crete-Monee High School in Illinois had developed a close bond with the IU coaching staff since it started recruiting him when he was a sophomore and he’d come to view the coaches he had the closest contact with as father figures and mentors.
But the addition of new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr and his 3-4 scheme sealed the deal. It gives Stringer, who has played every position from cornerback to nose tackle at Crete Monee, a position and a defense that best fits his talents. He announced his verbal commitment to the Hoosiers on Monday evening, picking Indiana over Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as offers from Missouri, Connecticut, New Mexico, Wyoming and several Mid-American Conference schools. The three-star recruit becomes the ninth recruit in Indiana’s Class of 2015.
“If they would’ve stayed with the 4-3, I probably would have still settled for it,” Stringer said. “But when they switched to a 3-4, that really had an effect on me. I really already thought that was the place for me, and it was an even better fit when they decided to go with that system. I’m very versatile and I really think I could fit that well.”
In high school, Stringer can fit in just about anything. He’s long-armed, and he can cover a lot of ground. He can rush off the edge or occasionally up the middle. He can cover receivers or running backs, catch ball-carriers in open space and hit.
“Omari has always been fast,” Crete-Monee coach John Konecki said. “Linear speed yes, but laterally, I would venture to say he’s about as quick as any guy he had.”
And that’s saying something, because Crete-Monee has had some guys who could move North-South as well as East-West. It’s the alma mater of LaQuon Treadwell, who was SEC Freshman of the Year as a wide receiver at Mississippi this season. Chris Slayton, who will be playing defensive end at Syracuse this season, Notre Dame incoming freshman linebacker Nyles Morgan and Jaylen Dunap, a sophomore cornerback at Illinois.
“He’s every bit as fast as those guys if not faster,” Konecki said.
Along with the physical tools, he also had the mental make-up to play all over the field. He could understand each position, and he wasn’t above playing out of position.
“We moved him around a lot,”Konecki said, “but never once did he ever complain. He never said, ‘But coach, what about me?’ Never once did he ever say anything like that. Inside some pass rushing season. We had him at the edge. We had him at free safety, we had him at cornerback. We could do all of that because he’s so fast and he’s so llong and he has such a high football IQ. And he’s really a conscientious kid and a team first guy. That’s what really separates him from a lot of guys that we’ve had come through our place. He can do so many things.”
He probably could’ve played safety just bout anywhere, but the Bandit outside linebacker spot currently manned at Indiana by Forisse Hardin and Clyde Newton works even better for him. It includes coverage, run-stopping and blitzing responsibilities, and Stringer is confident in his abilities in all of those areas.
“He’s that hybrid,” Konecki said. “He runs really well. He can cover the No. 2 receiver or a running back out of the backfield and he can step up and stop the run.”
Said Stringer: “It fits my skill set a lot. I think that’s perfect for me.”