IU looks to fill areas of need with ’17 class

The recruiting services aren’t giving Indiana’s latest signing class high marks.

That’s not necessarily cause for concern.

Approaching Wednesday’s National Signing Day, Indiana appears to have filled a list of needs with its 2017 recruiting haul. The Hoosiers have added depth to their defensive line, lined up a couple intriguing playmakers for their defensive backfield and secured a commitment from a Florida quarterback who earned his state’s Mr. Football designation.

And because it’s signing day, a couple more surprises could be in store Wednesday morning.

Indiana enters the final day of the recruiting period with a class ranked No. 57 nationally by Scout, No. 60 by 247 Sports and No. 62 by Rivals. That’s the lowest ranking from 247 Sports since 2010, the lowest from Rivals since 2012, while Scout also pegged IU’s 2015 class at No. 57 in the country.

Each player in IU’s 2017 class, save for Australian punter Haydon Whitehead, is considered a three-star recruit in the 247 Sports Composite rankings. Those stars — and the class rankings they shape — aren’t always indicative of the caliber of player at focus.

For instance, IU’s 2012 class was ranked as low as No. 71 by Rivals. That class turned out to produce three All-Americans in running back Tevin Coleman, left tackle Jason Spriggs and guard Dan Feeney.

Star ratings aside, IU has some intriguing prospects lined up this cycle.

“I think there’s a lot of speed in this class,” said Steve Wiltfong, 247 Sports’ recruiting insider. “I think they’ve added some defensive linemen with some high upside. You look at the interior of the defensive line and Juan Harris and LeShaun Minor, if they can get it out of them, those are two interior guys that can be really good in the Big Ten. I think they got some high upside offensive linemen. Now, we’ll see who coaches them with coach (Greg) Frey gone. I also thought they got more athletic at linebacker and in the secondary.”

One of the signature moments of the recruiting cycle saw Indiana flip Florida athlete Juwan Burgess from USC. Burgess, who is expected to begin his college career at safety, played at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla. alongside early-enrollee Thomas Allen, a linebacker who is also the son of IU coach Tom Allen, and receiver Whop Philyor, who is also expected to sign with Indiana today.

Indiana hit the Tampa area hard this cycle, leaning on the recruiting connections established by Allen, who was defensive coordinator at South Florida in 2015, and former offensive line coach Greg Frey, a Clearwater native who left IU to take a similar position at Michigan last week.

Indiana has five Tampa-area commits, including already-enrolled offensive lineman Tyler Knight and defensive lineman Tramar Reece, giving the Hoosiers more recruits in that area than Florida and USF, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Allen has also used his roots to lockdown the state of Indiana, as well. Six native Hoosiers are set to join the program today, including Avon athlete Bryant Fitzgerald. Like Burgess, the 6-foot prospect is also expected to play safety for the Hoosiers.

The in-state haul also includes 6-foot-9, 380-pound Lawrence North offensive tackle Caleb Jones, 6-3, 293-pound Ben Davis defensive tackle LeShaun Minor, Carmel defensive end Britt Beery and Columbus East center Harry Crider.

The Hoosiers are also looking to sign 6-foot-4 Tri-West tight end Peyton Hendershot. After former IU tight ends coach and Hendershot’s lead recruiter James Patton was let go earlier this month, Hendershot appeared to be weighing other options.

He did take an official visit to Bloomington during the on Jan. 13, though he followed that trip with an official visit to Penn State last weekend. It is not clear whether Penn State has offered Hendershot.

“He certainly can come in and be a game-changer,” Wiltfong said. “He can stretch the field. I’m also not ruling out, if he has the right mentality, maybe a Ryan Kerrigan-type rise on the defensive side of the ball as a stand-up outside rush linebacker, or a defensive end type of guy. Peyton Hendershot is a very intriguing guy to me.”

Should he keep his IU commitment, Hendershot could one day catch passes from Florida quarterback Nick Tronti. After adding Austin King and Peyton Ramsey at the position during the previous two cycles, the Hoosiers wanted another quarterback for this class. They found one in the 6-foot-2 Tronti, a dual-threat passer who won Florida’s Mr. Football award following his senior season.

Tronti’s 72 career touchdown passes are tied for second all-time in St. Johns county behind Tim Tebow’s 95.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time since we’ve all been together talking about recruiting and formulating a plan to finish up on the guys who are remaining and looking at the possibilities of some new people that we haven’t looked at before,” IU quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said. “We’ve done it together as a whole staff, so it’s been a good thing. When everybody’s on the same page, we’re gonna team recruit and help each other out and make sure we target the right guys. You can do that by formulating opinions from everybody and getting everybody involved and closing those guys out.”

Indiana’s class, which currently includes 22 players — five of whom are already enrolled — could see a couple additions before Wednesday is done.

Bobby Roundtree, a 6-foot-5 defensive end who comes from the same high school as current safety Jonathan Crawford and receiver Donavan Hale, is believed to be heavily considering IU. Roundtree also holds offers from Illinois, Louisville and Michigan State.

The same goes for Ohio running back Morgan Ellison, who predominantly holds offers from Mid-American Conference schools. Cleveland.com last year called Ellison Ohio’s best-kept secret due to the fact that he missed most of his sophomore season and all of his junior season due to a compound fracture in his right leg.

Come midday Wednesday, he, too, could be a Hoosier.

“This will be a character program and you have to have character players,” IU offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said. “I really believe those are the guys that win for you. Also, too, guys that are going to achieve academically. Those are the first two areas that I’ve looked at as a recruited. I know that will be the same here, as well. Also their football talents and what they can do that way.”

IU’s national recruiting rankings
247 Sports Rivals Scout

2017: 60 62 57
2016: 55 56 52
2015: 52 50 57
2014: 48 39 45
2013: 42 57 49
2012: 57 71 53
2011: 57 63 58
2010: 72 NR 60

2017 Indiana football commits
Thomas Allen, ILB, 6-3, 220, Plant, Tampa, Fla. (enrolled)
Britt Beery, DE, 6-6, 267, Carmel, Carmel
Alfred Bryant, DE, 6-1, 236, Manvel, Manvel, Tx.
Juwan Burgess, ATH, 6-0, 188, Plant, Tampa, Fla.
Mo Burnam, ILB, 6-2, 219, Salem, Conyers, Ga.
Harry Crider, C, 6-4, 260, Columbus East, Columbus.
Bryant Fitzgerald, ATH, 6-0, 200, Avon, Avon
Tyrese Fryfogle, WR, 6-2, 206, George County, Lucedale, Ms.
Juan Harris, DT, 6-4, 368, Parker, Janesville, Wisc. (enrolled)
Peyton Hendershot, TE, 6-4, 227, Tri-West, Lizton
LaDamion Hunt, CB, 6-0, 183, Carrollton, Carrollton, Ga.
Caleb Jones, OT, 6-9, 280, Lawrence North, Indianapolis
Tyler Knight, OT, 6-5, 275, Northside Christian, St. Petersburg, Fla. (enrolled)
Raheem Layne, CB, 6-0, 183, Sebastian River, Sebastian, Fla.
Mike McGinnis, ILB, 6-2, 235, ASA College, Allentown, N.J. (enrolled)
LeShaun Minor, DT, 6-3, 293, Ben Davis, Indianapolis
Craig Nelson, RB, 5-10, 180, Booker T. Washington, Miami, Fla.
Whop Philyor, WR, 6-0, 175, Plant, Tampa, Fla.
Tramar Reece, DE, 6-3, 210, Clearwater, Clearwater, Fla.
Nick Tronti, QB, 6-2, 210, Ponte Vedra, Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Haydon Whitehead, P, Australia (enrolled)
Michael Ziemba, TE, 6-3, 245, Lake Mary, Lake Mary, Fla.

10 comments

  1. I like this group based on how they play but would really like to get Roundtree and Barrett. Roundtree is more a possibility with Ellison already on board as a RB. Idf IU could pull off Barrett and Ellison it would be great, just don’t count on it.

    It will be fun to see if anyone pops up later in the day as they see who their school chooses before them. Maybe IU can get one or two unexpected players yet.

  2. It looks like there isn’t much discussion about this class that hasn’t been said before. IU seems to be set at 23 commitments for 2017. I do hope Mullins does a great job at prep school and IU has a position open for him in Jan 2018. He was a recruit that really worked to get others to come to IU and still is committed to become a Hoosier if possible.

    The best part of NSD was Coach Allen talking about the QB spot being wide open in fact all positions are open each year for the best player to start. It keeps veterans working hard to get better and for younger players to see positions aren’t set in stone.

    Now the next step is to see who gets named the OL coach as Allen said he wanted to name the OL coach within a week.

  3. This recruiting class is “OKAY” at best. There is a reason why it is ranked next to last in the BIG 10. This recruiting class is very heavy on players development.

    1. What else is new in Bloomington?

      At least we got some talent on the defensive side of the ball. Also, in the two plus decades of being an Indiana fan the number of recruits that flipped to us from USC (but also recruited by Alabama, Ohio State and etc) was exactly zero.

      Dunno what you expect. Development type players are always what Indiana gets.

      1. Only in the past we’ve flipped developmental players from NW Eastern Baptist Bible College, Western Pecan State, or Purdue.

  4. IU79, have you seen tape on IU’s recruits? I think it says a lot that players IU brought in had their ratings improved – FryFogle from no rating to a 3 star rating, Tronti moving from 2 star to 3 star even though the coach [a former NFL player] his team played against in the state title game said Tronti was the best from Florida, and the Australian punter was moved up to a 2 star even though he hasn’t been seen by raters. IU may be 13th in the B1G but as several analyst point out it is how close they are to others. IU is within 5 points, out of 100, of all B1G teams except for UM and OSU; every school’s recruits are about development. I like the upside for the recruits IU got in the 2017 class as several seem to be capable of becoming some of the better players in the B1G. I think it is also telling that players flipped from USC, TN, MN, and MS to IU in this class.

    Yes, it would be nice if IU had a higher rated class but it may not be as low rated as it seems. Now it is up to the coaches to develop these players just as coaches did with the 2012 class, turning Coleman, Spriggs, and Feeney into All-American players.

  5. Good point Chet. IU has to get the job done with developmental players a we aren’t in the position yet to get top 100 players. It would be nice seeing IU’s class ranked at the 5th best team in the B1G but the reality it wouldn’t be a lot better than the classes we have had over the past 5 years. It takes time to become a team that has top 300 talent, just look at the train wreck MSU was last year yet they still pull in a top 35 recruiting class this year. The bottom doesn’t drop out on top teams over night and it doesn’t increase for a number of years for teams with a history of not being very good.

  6. IU is not in the position to get top 100 players, but Maryland is? WOW! I am fairly confident that once MSU finds a QB, that they will return to being very competitive in the BIG 10. They had some very good recruiting classes in 2015 and 2016.

  7. IU79, yes the odds are that MSU will rebound this year but with last season there isn’t a guarantee they will recover. Plus QB wasn’t the only problem they had as the defense was giving up more points than in the past. Maryland has a lot of talent in their state and nearby states. Maryland doesn’t have many teams poaching top players from their state while IU has three D1 Schools plus UM, MSU, OSU, and Illinois [Chicago has more citizens than Indiana] to compete with in a state with just a few top players in the country. IU got players that other teams overlooked that could turn out to be excellent players. Also IU is within 5 points [out of 100 points in ranking] of 8 B1G schools which shows they aren’t to far behind most B1G. Add in the difference in rankings by different sources and IU would have been ranked even higher.

    Chet what BSU did under their coaches is what IU is doing until they improve enough to get top players. Finding the right players for your team is the right way to recruit. Looking at the films of our recruits and our players looked very good and have big potential.

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