Wilson expects class to ratchet up competition for spots

The influx of junior college recruits in the Class of 2012 appears to indicate that coach Kevin Wilson was looking for quick fixes, especially in a porous defensive unit that ranked last in the Big Ten in both scoring and total defense.

Wilson said that was true to a degree. He tends to only look the junior college route when he feels he has a need that requires an experienced player, but he also said that no one in the class — be they junior college recruits or high school recruits — was promised immediate playing time and that bringing in junior college talent can be just as valuable in driving returning players to improve as it can be in filling holes.

“It’s nice that we landed a couple of JC guys,” Wilson said Thursday at his signing day press conference, which was held the day after the faxes came in to avoid conflict with Indiana’s basketball game at Michigan on Wednesday night. . “I want to see how (rising sophomore linebacker) Chase Hoobler does with this. I want to see how (safeties) Drew and Flo Hardin and Mark Murphy do with these guys or (cornerbacks) Lawrence Barnett, Michael Hunter and Kenny Mullen do. We want to keep enhancing competition and depth.”

The same is the case at quarterback. The addition of junior college quarterback Cameron Coffman and California high schooler Nate Sudfeld, both dropback passers, would seem to indicate that the Hoosiers are looking to change direction at that position from the speedy Tre Roberson. However, Wilson said the Hoosiers still intend to have a an open competition at quarterback and that they are not looking to make offensive changes so vast that Roberson can’t compete for the job.

“We’ll have a neat crew to work with,” Wilson said. “I expect Tre still with his experience, it will be interesting to see what he’ll do to keep separating himself, so we’ll see as it goes. I think he’ll be a lot of fun.”

That being said, Wilson said it’s also important that the Hoosiers throw the ball better than they did. The Hoosiers finished fifth in the Big Ten in passing offense with 199.8 yards per game, but completed just 55.8 percent of their passes and became a run-heavy team with Roberson as the starter for the season’s final five games.

“I don’t think as the year moved a long that we didn’t throw the ball like you need to throw,” Wilson said. “We’ll still take advantage of Tre’s athleticism. … We need accuracy at quarterback every year and it needs to be better. In this day and age, if you’re not throwing it at 65-70 percent, you’re way below average. It used to be, 55-58 was the deal, now with all the high percentage throwing every one’s doing, the short pass game, the quick screens with the bubbles and the quick little look passes you throw. … We gotta make some hay there. We’ll play to the strength of our quarterback. We’ll play to the strength of our offensive line. We’re not changing offenses. We did bring in a new offensive coordinator to look at some of the things pass game, which are the things we did at Oklahoma. But just to be a little more in sync and get the pass game a little more consistent and stable and make some strides with that. We’re not changing offenses, but we do need to make some strides. You can’t throw the ball for 180-190 yards a game and expect to win a bunch of games in college ball.”

Other notes from the post-signing day press conference

— Wilson talked at length about the “length” of his recruits and about players that have frames and bodies that they can put weight on and possibly use in a variety of positions depending on how their bodies react to a college strength and conditioning program. Shawn Heffern, Tanner Keans, Adam Kranda, Nick Mangieri and Jason Spriggs give the Hoosiers five players 6-5 or taller between 220 and 260 pounds. At the moment, Heffern, Kranda and Mangieri are defensive ends while Kearns and Spriggs are listed as tight ends, but added weight could let them move around.

“We’ve got a lot of length,” Wilson said. “… There’s some length to our players, some range, some long-armed big bodied guys that if we can get some strength and maturity, we’ve got some nice kids to work with and, big men.”

— Wilson talked at length about his coaching staff winning competitions against big name schools and also said his players were critical in recruiting.

“Our staff did a great job of competing,” Wilson said. “It was a tough sell this year. We had a horrible year, 1-11. Not very good on paper. But internally our kids did a great job. I think our staff did a great job recruiting. It was a hard recruit too. We were competing. We were fighting. We were getting slung at a little bit. There were some things coming at us. Some people attacking us. Our coaches did a great job. Our players did a great job recruiting. I can’t tell you how proud I was of our guys for selling what we’re trying to do and the energy they brought. Our best recruiters might have been our players and the way they connected with kids on the visit.”

— Wilson said he may or may not use the two scholarships he still has available. However, the team has only five scholarship seniors and at the moment, he has just 11 open scholarships for the Class of 2013. He expects with attrition that number will rise to about 15-17, but it’s still a small class and holding those might add help to balance the classes.

— Wilson said all of the players were signed to one-year renewable scholarships as opposed to the four-year scholarships the NCAA now allows. Wilson said there were certain issues regarding the four-year scholarships that he didn’t have clarification on.

“With our recruits, it really wasn’t affecting anyone,” Wilson said. “We ended up signing everyone to the one-year renewable. We were waiting to get the direction of the Big Ten and the NCAA. As an athletic department we were a little unsure of where everybody’s going, where it is. You’d like to have some consistency. You don’t want it by any means to hurt you. … As coaches, we’re trying to figure out, ‘Well, if a guy left your program, do you get that scholarship back?’ Nobody really defined that. They kind of left that open ended. … We’ll see as the Big Ten defines it and the NCAA defines it. From an athletic department, we’re not going to put ourselves in a disadvantageous situation. We’re going to put ourselves where we can be aggressive in recruiting.”

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 1

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 2

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 3

 

13 comments

  1. For those of you who haven’t enjoyed this yet, here is the article/video of Les Miles dissing Gunner Kiel.

    Classless? Maybe, but Gunner is the Terrence Jones of football and needed to be called out.

  2. I don’t think any 18 year old kid needs to be “called out” by any millionaire football coach. I thought it was tacky and arrogant and I am glad the HT didn’t re-run the story.

  3. I agree. Gunner probably got sold on the program and then realized that handing the ball off for four years isn’t the best path to the NFL.

  4. I thought Les Miles was pretty tacky to bad mouth a kid in front of the cameras. I thought it said more about Miles than it did about Gunner.

  5. Maybe I’m still scarred from the Terrence Jones affair. I agree that I didn’t like the “There was this kid from Indiana…” part to Les’s speech; I do like, however, that it was mentioned.

    These high-profile commitments with their “choose the hat” ceremonies on national TV have gotten out of hand. Did you see the Darius Philon bit??

  6. BTW SI.com has Wilson’s recruiting class ranked 12th in the Big Ten. Now sure the ranking thing is out of hand and plagued by inaccuracy, but dead last just does not make me see a long, rosy tenure here at IU. JUCOs are a band-aid at best, and just can’t make up for lack of overall talent.

    But at the end of the day it’s how a coach molds and improves the kids he does get. If KW is good enough, these rankings will be a punch line for years to come.

  7. Will- We’ve been last, or close to last, every year in recent memory, irrespective of who is coach.

    A single “overachieving year,” where the team gets 6 or 7 wins, would go a long way towards turning the tide.

  8. Will, I think you’re right on all counts. Sure, the JUCOs are just a band aid but, heck, we need a band aid. I think Wilson said something of that nature himself.

    I also think, as you alluded to, that you can ‘coach up’ football talent, or at least the overall team, more than in, say, basketball. I hope Coach is just the guy for it. We’ll see, I’m in.

    I can’t argue with the recruiting services, they follow more closely and know more than I do. Projecting what a 17 year old will be like when they are 22 is often a roll of the dice. My son that wrestled in college felt lucky to get any offer and it wasn’t to a major program. Over his career he went 9-7 against the Big Ten (including an 11-4 win at the NCAA’s) and 8-5 against the Big 12. I’ve been hearing all kinds of stories from the Super Bowl about players coming from nowhere to be successful.

    Regarding Coach Wilson’s reference to length, we had a local kid that was a good ball player but I never thought he was strong enough to play big time ball. Tall and skinny defensive end. He’s at Notre Dame and turned down Alabama and Clemson. Apparently the big boys like tall and skinny.

  9. It’s worth remembering that many, if not most, of Coach Mallory’s recruits were considered MAC level guys. Which, of course, led to the “darkest day in Ohio State football history”.

  10. Regardless of everything else; it was great to upgrade the QB situation by saying good bye to 2 that we had…because what IU had would have a hard time playing in the MAC conference, except for TRE which IU still has…So the new QB’s will be a positive and Tre is still there who I like on the football field somewhere.

  11. I’ll bet we see Tre in some other facet on offense, such as the Wildcat. I’m guessing Coach has plans for him in a different role than drop back passer. He doesn’t fit that mold and I’ve always gotten the impression Coach likes him on the field.

  12. Yes, back in the 70’s, we had a kid on our Offensive line that was 6’7″ and during his senior season he weighed about 225. He was the third best offensive lineman on our team. But we were all a bit surprised that he was the only O-lineman on the team that was offered a football scholarship from a D-1 school (he received numerous offers from Big Ten and Big Eight schools). Two years later, as a sophomore at Iowa State, he was 6’7″ and weighted 285. He started at ISU for three years, finishing his career at 300 pounds, and was drafted in the fifth round by Philadelphia.

    You can coach size.

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