Wilson pondering whether or not to recruit quarterback for 2012 class

When Kevin Wilson took the job as Indiana’s head coach in December, it wasn’t obvious whether or not he needed a quarterback for the 2012 class, but he had to recruit one anyway. With Gunner Kiel, the top-rated pro-style passer in the class just 45 minutes away, it was an option too good not to pursue.

But now that the Columbus East quarterback committed to Indiana but then re-opened his recruiting last week, Wilson has to ask himself a question. With a true freshman in Tre Roberson taking over the starting job and two redshirt sophomores still in the program in Ed Wright-Baker and Gunner’s older brother Dusty Kiel, will he go after another quarterback if Kiel commits elsewhere as expected.

Wilson indicated on Tuesday at his press conference that he isn’t yet certain. Wilson didn’t mention or refer to the younger Kiel, which would be an NCAA violation, but said that recruiting a quarterback would depend on how big of a need it would be relative to other positions.

“We do have some needs at other positions,” Wilson said. “It will be interesting to see as the season pans out. We’ve got Adam Follett, we’ve got Dusty, we’ve got Ed and we’ve got Tre. Some of those guys are young enough. Do you need one? You’re also comparing quarterback need versus other position need. So sometimes at the end, it’s almost like recruiting like drafting. It’s the next best available player. Now let’s not take a guy from a position just to take him, but if he’s a better player than another guy at another position then his stock rises. We’re looking at some D-Line depth, D-Ends, we’re looking at linebacker, DB, we’re looking at a lot whether it’s junior college or high school.”

Wilson said that at the moment, Roberson is still his quarterback for this week. The Lawrence Central graduate was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after he threw for 197 yards and a touchdown and ran for 84 yards in the loss to Iowa.

“I think the more he’s played, the more comfortable he’s gotten in practice with trying to step up and being more vocal and having more energy as we go,” Wilson said. “He has really practiced pretty well the last couple of weeks. I think the more he’s played, the more confidence he has. His confidence in himself has kind of taken off a little bit. Early in the year, rotating guys through, it was hard to see some separation with guys. But I thought as we went through last week’s practice, we knew Tuesday after practice he was probably going to be our starter. He was just practicing better and carried it through. At the same time, it will be nice to see how Ed and Dusty respond.”

Other notes from Tuesday’s press conference:

— Wilson was asked about to clarify his comments from Monday’s radio show when he talked about attrition and mentioned mandatory drug testing. He was first asked if he had lost players because of failed drug tests.

“No, because we can’t dismiss guys with that deal,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a boatload of what we think are pretty simple, clean team rules, whether it be curfews, social media, Twitter, Facebook, comments and how they’re regarded. The, quote, sources that we have around here. Just trying to keep a monitor on things like that. We have guidelines about going to class. If you don’t, there’s a price you pay. Study hall, being on time, signing in, signing out. Being on time for weight room. There’s a boatload of things we have to do. I think for us to build a winning program, we need to kind of do it the right way. I watched some other teams around the country, I see some players in top programs that are suspended for key games. That to me is a coach saying, hey, it’s about the team, and you can’t be selfish about what you’re doing. So as we’re building forward we’re just trying to get our team to buy into the value of what I think is doing things right with kids that will go to class, will do things right on the field. I think it’s a two-way street. There’s a lot great pro teams where every one in the locker room is a college graduate because they want good kids that go to work and show up and all that kind of stuff. We’re just trying to drive that home with our guys and I haven’t relented on it. If you miss something, there’s a price you pay for it. Whether some guys didn’t want to pay that price, you’d have to ask those guys. I don’t know why each guy isn’t with us other than we just have a pretty common approach to this. I don’t think it’s unusual. I think it’s what most guys do, but I don’t back down.”

He was asked to clarify, because his statement Monday night could’ve been read to say that players left the program because of academic or drug issues.

“Each one I think is probably different,” Wilson said. “I don’t know. Some guys just said they didn’t want to play. My comment when a guy doesn’t want to play is I think each kid needs to do what’s best for him, because if it’s good for him, it’s good for the team. That was an exact conversation with several kids. If it’s good for you to be here, it’s good for our team. If it’s not good for you to be here, that’s good for our team to. We’ve not opened the door and said, ‘See ya,’ as much as there’s guidelines, things that we’re not going to get away from. And each guy’s kind of had his issue with what he’s wanted to do.”

He was then asked if there is a drug problem on the team or if there was a drug problem that has led to a player being dismissed or leaving the team.

“I can’t comment on drug testing other than that we have a drug testing policy,” Wilson said. “Is there problems? I don’t know. You can read into what you want to, but you’re reading into it. We spend way too much time talking about guys that aren’t here versus Peyton Eckert and Bernard Taylor that have been starting against Big Ten teams as freshmen, that are battling pretty good. Bobby Richardson out there battling, Kenny Mullen going from corner to nickel. Mark Murphy, there’s a lot of guys out there fighting. There’s no issues as much as we’re going to build a disciplined program and in doing so, I think some guys have struggled with that, with me, because I haven’t backed away from it. It’s not been personal. It’s been very, very consistent. I think if you’d ask the guys that I’ve been pretty consistent. We hold the best players to the highest standards. We don’t cut any slack. If you’re a starter, you have to actually do it better. Because everybody watches you, and because players are running the team, but that being said. If a guy isn’t doing well, maybe he hasn’t played as much. Whether that be academically, socially, practice field, weight room. Going to the dining hall, whatever. If a guy is not doing things properly, we kind of take the air out of his football, because if he’s not doing it properly for us off the field, he’s not going to do it on the field. I don’t think there’s problems, but we’ve been pretty regimented and pretty consistent in trying to do things the best we can. We work with guys that make mistakes too, because we all make mistakes. We make them every day, every person in our program, and I make the most of anybody, so I’m not sitting here throwing stones. So the guy that makes more issues and more glitches each day is me, as we keep moving forward, our staff the same way. We’re all moving forward. We’re trying to be real consistent. Not hard-core. Not old-school. Just the right way. There’s a reason why some teams are pretty good and are consistently pretty good. And it’s not always talent. That’s why I keep saying. I go back to Oklahoma and some of the success. It was consistent. We had great players that didn’t go to class and didn’t go to class. They were great players. First round draft picks. They sat out games. That being said, then they started going to class. As they went to class, that lifted everybody up. Great players practice hard. Great players do things right. That’s what we’re trying to build. We’ve been pretty set on that. That was addressed in the very first meeting. Whoever the best player is in this room gets held to the highest standard on and off the field.”

A source close to the program said that no player has left the program as a direct result of a failed drug test or drug issues. The source did not know, however, whether or not there have been failed drug tests within the program.

— Wilson said he isn’t sure whether or not Damarlo Belcher will be available on Saturday against Northwestern because he is still nursing a knee injury. He said the knee has been “a little bit ginger.”

“I guess we’ll have a better gauge here in the next couple of days about whether not he can go,” Wilson said.

Wilson said junior center Will Matte has also been limited in practice so far and his status is uncertain. Senior linebacker Jeff Thomas has practiced, but Wilson said he’s been “protected” because he separated his shoulder on Saturday, and the Hoosiers will make a decision closer to the game whether or not he will be available.

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 1

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 2

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AUDIO: Kofi Hughes

AUDIO: Leon Beckum

72 comments

  1. Man, listening to this guy talk/just reading his quotes can be exhausting. You forget what the original question was the deeper you get into each nonsensical, unrelated sentence. I sure hope he articulates himself better and a tad more succinctly to the team. If what I’ve been hearing and reading is any indication, he must start his pre-game pep talk for a noon game about 8:30 in the morning, just so the team can take the field before kickoff. Dustin, nice work transcribing, it can’t be easy. Go ice that elbow.

  2. Actually Andrew, I found his entire dialogue very coherent, thorough, exhausting only that it touched on each subset that might have occurred to someone who wanted to ask the same question in five different ways (I found four)… Only now that he has exhausted the issue of drug use, you manage to come up with another one…his answer is unprecise, incoherent, nonsensical and the sentences unrelated… you must be some student of English…we’ll begin with phonetics with you.

  3. Sorry Andrew, but it might be you. I had no problem following Wilson’s train of thought. I think it’s refreshing to have a coach that tries to give real answers and more than just the standard coach-speak and tripe. But aside from his verbal communication skills, it’s the message that’s most important. And I like Wilson’s message. I like that he’s bringing discipline into the program and trying to build consistency on and off the field. God knows the youth of America needs some of that.

    You may have heard the Mike Stoops recently got fired as head coach at Arizona. People say that he’s an excellent football coach and that his players and assistant coaches loved him. He turned a terrible Arizona program into a team that produced three consecutive winning seasons, three bowl games and a host of players that were top draft picks. And yet he was fired in the middle of the season. One insider commented that the primary reason for his losing was not a lack of talent, but a lack of discipline. Arizona players were terribly undisciplined, both on and off the field (their on-field performance certainly demonstrated that over the last year). He established all the rules, but had become lax in enforcing them, especially for players he deemed as the most talented. Discipline matter!

  4. Living in the Carolinas, KW could probably do the evening news. In South Carolina he could be poet laureate.

  5. The real challenging thing in the Kiel situation is that after the commit of Gunner Wilson was not going to waste effort recruiting another quarterback for 2012.

    Conspiracy theory alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Gunner committed so that Wilson would not recruit another quarterback thus giving his brother Dusty a better opportunity to play on Saturdays.

    Thoughts????

  6. Wilson should offer Zach Terrell of Homestead H.S. in Ft. Wayne, IN. The kid can run and throw the ball and is a student of the game. I believe statistic wise he is the leading QB in the state, ahead of Keil. Indiana was interested in him at one time along with many others.

  7. I think Gunner leaving has more to do with Wilson making an ass of himself in front of recruits than anything to do with his brother. Not sure the details will ever come out, but from what I have heard from 3 separate people was identical on what happened.

    Regardless of all the talk, Tre is our guy for the future. He looked older than a frosh out there and obviously has more talent (including throwing the football) than the other 3 QBs. It was exciting again.

    I think a better conspiracy theory would be that Gunner knew how great Tre was going to be so he bailed. Like that one better if we are throwing them around.

    As far as KW’s transcribed interviews……..look I’ve heard the guy talk firsthand and anybody that can make it coherent online or on paper gets kudos from me. I follow it well enough for a fan. We arent taking notes for a test later here. Come on he’s a football coach.

  8. Sorry Andrew but that crap won’t find the support to stick on the wall. I think you need more seasoning.

    Indy, I am fine with your 3 eyewitnesses understanding it is good that Gunner made the decision now rather than when he is a So/Jr. My only thought is it is to bad the could not talk to him if he could have participated in practice at ND this week and found out there is a bastard in South Bend also, just as there is in L.A., Lansing, Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Austin, Boise, Norman, Shreveport, Madison, W.Laffy, Terre Haute, Muncie(I can go on if those 3 dudes don’t get the picture).

    Poet laureate, beautiful.

  9. Carolinas? Drive south to Bedford or north to Martinsville…Without the success of Bobby Knight(recruited in Chicago, northern Ohio, and northern Indiana)and the reinforcement of its institutions mirrored in the spotlight of a coach nationally recognized in having one of the most intelligent basketball minds, IU would have lost its separation from the Colonel Sanders Kencluckians long ago.
    Crean’s daily Jesus tweeting? I think we know why that plump clappin’ clucker was chosen as the new bird in the roost. You won’t see anymore homeless street thugs that were living out of the back of a car on Chicago streets ever recruited to wear Hoosier candy-stripes again. It’s not your Bloomington of the 1970s, Chet. With the firing of Knight came the influx. Its morphed into a Republican Billy Graham limestone compound. The Harvard Hillbillies no longer share the dorm room space your Hotel California liberal mind grew. There’s a different feel to the old IU…The old rivalries are more smoke than fire…they are promoted and propped up like too much lighter fluid on Uncle Willy’s Kingsford briquettes..When you attend an IU vs. Kentucky game, there’s a lot of waving of hands going on…a lot of “haven’t seen yalls-inzu-whiles” across the court.

    There is hope. We do have a rather quasi-liberal Washington Husky Hoosier fan that sporadically blogs on Scoop. I guess that was the purple that came out of the blending of red and blue.

  10. Man, tough crowd. Sorry to offend. Podunker, nice rant…you may have heard that Arizona was 1-5 when Mike Stoops was fired. Since you failed to mention or even allude to that small little fact, I’m guessing that had a tad bit to do with his ouster. TTG, phonetics, really? Really went for the jugular on that one. So hurtful.

  11. Gunner might still come to IU. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Notre Dame is weak, and they will likely end up with another coaching change in the next two years.

  12. Andrew…I think Podunler does clearly mention Stoops losing as of late and even suggests a cause. Re-read…your speed reading is getting in the way of your comprehension and making you look bad as a result.

  13. Chet…sometimes I think you are Groucho Marx on a motorcycle (without the moustache-but maybe not). Your one liners are awesome.

  14. The Scoop seems to be morphing from a sports blog into some sort of e-therapy. Public service, either way. That will be $300.

  15. Andrew, I thought the following statement would cover it for most of the folks that are on this site. “One insider commented that the primary reason for his losing was not a lack of talent, but a lack of discipline.” Sorry, I’ll try to be more clear next time. Yes, Stoops’ teams lost 10 DI games in a row, but one of those was a major bowl game last year. The reason they lost was not a lack of talent, but a lack of discipline, at least according to one of the team’s ‘”insiders.”

    Did you watch Arizona play during the last 12 months? Stupid penalties after stupid penalties doomed that team. In the Stanford game this year, Stanford was winning 16 – 10. Arizona had held them and it was 4th down and four inside Stanford territory. Out comes the punt team. One of the Arizona’s linebackers jumps off sides (on a punt play!) for a five yard penalty. First down Stanford, who took the gift and scored a touchdown in a matter of seconds. Game over, Stanford in a cake walk.

    Stoops had established the rules, for both on-field and off-field behavior, but over time he stopped enforcing them. The players discovered that they could make stupid mistakes, both on and off the field, without any serious consequences. The result was a talented but undisciplined team that lost 10 in a row to DI schools. Stoops got fired half way through the season after his last winning season and five games after his last bowl game.
    You think other coaches might have noticed?

  16. Hoosier heart: I agree completely. If Gunner thinks going to ND and playing for Kelly is going to be comfortable, he’s setting himself up for disappointment. No question, ND is a great school, has a wonderfully rich FB tradition, and gets a lot more media coverage (i.e., exposure for top players), but of late, ND football has been more hype than performance.

    Kelly is a mad man on the sideline and appears to be every bit as demanding as Wilson. And ND will arguably recruit top quarterbacks every year, making it tougher for Gunner to obtain and/or keep the starting spot. And if ND loses two more games this year, Kelly is going to start feeling big time heat. ND alums have extremely high expectations and the money to make their coaching mistakes disappear.

  17. I think we’re all in debt to Uncle Willy for stating what needed to be said. I am particularly glad that these lovely children are here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed the courage little seen in this day and age…

  18. The only thing I want to know about Arizona right now is that I need them to lose this weekend to a team I love dearly.

  19. Kelly seems to be able to win fairly quickly wherever he goes but he also seems to wear out his welcome. I, for one, am just as glad he is not our coach. I’d rather the focus be on the game and the players.

  20. Po, ND alums are very experienced of riddding themselves of their coaching mistakes also as they have kept just 1 and canned 4 since Dan Devine left in 1980. Hell if not for the bright star of Holtz that is a worse record of hiring than IU and spans more years.

  21. Does anyone else get the feeling that IU football is living the movie Groundhog Day?

    Every year we gush over our recruiting class in February.

    During spring ball we hear how the team has improved it’s conditioning over the winter and how they are bigger, stronger, faster.

    Fall camp opens up and we hear how this team is tired of losing and this will be the year that things change.

    We as fans make these wildly over optimistic predictions, and by the end of September we can’t wait for basketball because the football season is already headed in a downward spiral.

    Groundhog Day!

    Wilson, if you can’t make up your fricken mind on what position you should recruit then you’re obviously in over your head.

  22. What the hell? Tsao thoroughly covered Groundhog Day. We took the midterms…That was part of his 6 week lectures on “Cultural Restoration.” I’ll give you my notes in snapshot form: Basically the groundhog is us….Wilson is winter and spring…and our indoctrination to the acceptance of losing keeps us currently in the hole….The hole can be a good place…it’s warm and comfortable.. But until we believe in our ability to hold to the conviction of change and not be fooled by the clouds, the everlasting spring shall never bloom in our hearts. …

    Did you Scoop skip class semester?…Jeez.

    P.S. I actually skipped most of the classes…but still got a B-.

  23. “Every year we gush over our recruiting class in February.”

    Really? You do that? Most of the people who post on the Scoop have been lamenting the players we’ve recruited for years as being ‘MAC level talent’. The players were almost universally deemed too small to compete in the Big Ten. Many times we were often the only team from a BCS conference that recruited them. I’m glad they left someone ‘gushing’.

  24. HC: my company’s attorney is a ND alum. His daughter also graduated from ND. He represents himself to be very connected and remains intimately involved with ND and their Alumni Association. He brags all the time about the influence that the alums have in getting coaches fired. He lets everyone within earshot know that if the coaches are not winning nine games a year, they’re not going to be around long.

    I respond and tell him that given ND’s admissions standards, the climate in south Bend (it’s not Palo Alto and Stanford) and that they don’t cut their athletes any slack, the days of ND being a national power are long gone and that firing coaches just makes things worse. I have a lot of fun needling him when ND loses.

  25. Q: How can you tell when you’re on an elevator with a Notre Dame grad?

    A: Don’t worry, he’ll let you know.

    Q: What’s the difference between a ND coed and a baby walrus?

    A: The tusks.

  26. What’s the difference between a Notre Dame dorm and a porcupine? A porcupine has pricks on the outside.

  27. Chet- I will promptly add that to my repertoire. Please advise where I should send your royalty checks, and to whom payable. (I’m presuming that your agent wants his cut.)

  28. Podunker, tell your attorney that I know three Catholic priests who teach in a high school who claim exactly the same thing that your attorney claims. As do two guys who work driving a CTA train, 23 janitors (sorry-building engineers), 14 CTA and 9 suburban bus drivers, 15 cops from the southwest side (Beverly), 11 process servers, 14 Spanish teachers, 17 CFOs…and a couple of Outfit connected guys who are big donors on Sunday morning…

  29. Davis, Chet…

    Q. How can you spot the Notre Dame alum who works for the CIA in a UN meeting?
    A. He’s the one wearing a little green sign that says “I’m the best spy in the world”.

    Q. Why do they call Notre Dame parishioners “church sparrows”?
    A. They ‘dump’ on the faithful.

  30. I used to be engaged to the daughter of the biggest realtor in South Bend. I’m pretty sure I could have called a couple third down plays against USC if I had asked. I could be wrong. Maybe second and short.

  31. Podunker- shame on you for needling the mentally handicapped. I’m sure your in-house counsel was mentally sound when he arrived at ND, but I’m sure that three years (seven if he was a double-domer) of the cloistered existence at ND messed him up, but good.

    Admission standards at ND? Hey, even I got accepted there! But “upon further review” (as the refs say after an instant replay call) of the standing/reputation of the degree I was interested in pursuing, I went to IU. Talk about your close calls!

    As to your assertion that they don’t cut the players any slack, I wouldn’t be too sure about that. As I mentioned, I went to high school in So. Bend and saw some behavior at off-campus ND parties by some student-atheletes that would sure make the papers (except the So. Bend Tribune) if anyone had the guts to discipline the malfeasants.

  32. davis, I agree. Things I saw at the Linebacker Inn covered actions from juvenile to criminal and that was during Ara’s tenure.

  33. Waitingforwins, completely agree! The new, leaner defensive front now can’t get off a block (but seemed to last year?). The deepest receiving bunch in the Big Ten now can’t get separation. How fast reality has replaced promise! This talk about Kevin Wilson changing the culture is just talk-who knows, he’s never done this before. The freshman look pretty good, but no one thought this team was this depleted of talent. Win today? How about “look competent today” coach?

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