Indiana gets fifth and sixth football commitments for 2015

A combined story on today’s commitments. 

Joey Belden pulled a bit of a ruse at Indiana’s team camp on Wednesday, though he did it with the best of intentions.

The Avon defensive end said he told Indiana coach Kevin Wilson in Wilson’s office before the camp that he was committing to the Hoosiers, but he also wanted his Avon teammates to be involved somehow without making too much of a show of it. At one point during the camp, he told his teammates he was about to commit, and wandered over to Wilson to tell him — again —that he would be joining Indiana’s Class of 2015.

“I wanted to do it in front of my high school teammates,” Belden said Wednesday evening. “Without those guys, I wouldn’t be able to go out on a Friday night and make the plays on the field that I do. I wanted to show respect for my school. … I just wanted to pay homage to them.” 

He did, becoming the second player to verbally commit to Indiana on Wednesday. Hunter Littlejohn, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound offensive lineman from Olentangy Liberty High School in Powell, Ohio, also committed to the Hoosiers, who now have six commitments for the Class of 2015.

Belden also considered Miami (Ohio) and Ball State, but said Indiana was always his first choice. The Hoosiers had been recruiting him since his sophomore year and offered when he was a junior.

“I’m just comfortable being down there,” Belden said. “I go down there a lot. We do team camp there every year. I have a good feel for the place. I just developed a really good relationship with the coaches. … From Day One, that was my No. 1 school.”

Belden seems to be an excellent fit for the Hoosiers new defense under first-year defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. The Hoosiers will be multiple, but they will also heavily incorporate the 3-4 defensive front that Knorr used at Wake Forest.

That should be an easy transition for the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Belden, who plays in a 3-3 stack front at Avon. He’s played out of a three-point stance as a defensive lineman, but also as a stand-up linebacker. At Indiana, Belden said, his position could be determined by how much he grows. If he puts on enough weight, he could play as a hand-in-the-ground defensive lineman, but could also play as a stand-up rush end/outside linebacker.

“I feel like I’m strong enough to play with my hand in the ground and athletic enough to play out in space,” Belden said. “I need to adjust to the speed and the talent at that level, but I think I can do whatever I need to do for them.”

Belden had 45 tackles including 12 for loss and four sacks last season for Avon, which went 6-4 last season.

“He’s very versatile, and we can move him around depending on the formation we see,” Avon coach Mark Bless said. “We don’t mind using him in a three-point stance and we don’t mind using him in a slight walk-up stance. Right now, we don’t drop him back in the flat too much because he does need to get a little quicker. That’s one thing he does need to work on.”

Littlejohn has versatility similar to Belden’s on the other side of the ball. Olentangy Liberty has been using him as the left tackle because he’s the biggest and most athletic lineman on the team. At 6-foot-3, even Littlejohn presumes that he’ll be moved to either guard or center, but he’s prepared for that possibility.

“We’ve worked him out at a variety of positions,” Liberty coach Steven Hale said. “He can snap the ball. He’s comfortable pulling or moving as a guard because he’s very athletic. I don’t know that he has the length to be a tackle in the Big Ten, but I can see him playing any of those three interior spots.”

Littlejohn had offers from Akron, Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Marshall, Minnesota, Purdue, Syracuse and Toledo. He had narrowed his choices to Indiana and Duke, and took his second visit to Duke in recent days. Shortly after he left Durham, N.C., however, he decided that IU was the place he wanted to be.

“I’ve visited Indiana five times, and every time I’ve been there, I’ve loved it more and more,” Littlejohn said. “I was just on my second visit to Duke, and obviously, it provides you a heck of an education. But it didn’t exactly feel like home. Indiana always felt like home.”

2 comments

  1. A quality Hoosier HSer and the cherry on top is besting PUke for him. The talent and character of our program is reminding me of the squads JoPa used to recruit to PSU. Solid players with a minimum of ME. ESPN has recently made our WR commit Leon Thornton a 4*.

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