Wilson’s team focused as it enters next phase

Kevin Wilson’s calendar is divided into quadrants, each mirroring the format of a football game.

The Indiana coach views the winter and the weeks immediately following the regular season as the first quarter, a time to meet recruits and finalize the signing class. His second quarter is the spring, with the structures of practices and workouts bringing his team halfway toward a new season. The third quarter is where Wilson and the Hoosiers are now, readying for summer workouts and the fourth-quarter journey that all involved hope ends with a winning campaign.

“To me,” Wilson said, “you build a foundation that you play as your season. Good or bad, you start over, you build from what you’ve got. You overcome things (and) you’ve got to replenish. It’s never the same. You might have good things coming back that aren’t good. You might think it’s bad and it’s better. Every year is a separate entity. You start over, and as we recap where we’re at, I really like where our team sits.”

Friday marked the unofficial first day of IU’s eight-week summer workout session. Because the start of the second summer semester doesn’t begin until next week, nothing is mandatory until Monday. But returning players are beginning to filter in and freshmen are arriving for orientation. Wilson boasted about his team’s spring performance and attendance during Wednesday’s IU Tailgate Tour event at Huber Winery in Borden, lauding the 50-plus players who remained in Bloomington for voluntary work last month. Wilson said the program’s most-attended May workouts in the past included 15-20 players.

Wilson also lauded the team’s development in the weight room — specifically pointing to the speed and strength exploits of left tackle Jason Spriggs and nose tackle Nate Hoff — and reported a 2.8 team grade point average for the spring semester. “That’s not great in sports,” Wilson said, “but in football that’s not too bad.”

The next step, Wilson acknowledged, is turning these off-season gains into wins during the fall.

“As we talk with our team, this group will tell you that we’ve been a pretty hard-working team,” Wilson said. “The difference last year is this team now works with a different purpose. It doesn’t work any harder. There’s not more exercises or more work. I think there’s more weight on the bar. I think we’re starting at a higher place, and we’re stronger and more talented. But I really just think we’re working for a different purpose. … We used to work so that coach didn’t yell at you, or so you didn’t have to do extra running, but now we started working because we wanted to play for each other.”

Although the longterm futures of defensive lineman Ralph Green III and receiver Isaac Griffith remain unclear after their off-season arrests, both players will be active with the team this summer. Green was suspended from team activities at the end of spring practice when he was arrested April 19 on a preliminary charge of misdemeanor battery after allegedly slapping a 20-year-old woman in the face. Green was also preliminarily charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

Griffith was arrested May 23 on preliminary charges of illegal consumption, operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 and endangerment. Wilson said Griffith was not suspended because the team was coming off voluntary workouts at the time of his arrest and, “you can’t suspend someone for volunteering,” he said.

But Wilson said internal discipline remains on the table for both, as well as their futures with the school and the program. Per policy, Wilson said he will wait until the legal process runs it course in both cases, then wait to see if the university issues any discipline. From there, he said he’ll meet with IU athletic administrators to determine what further punishment will be levied.

“They’re back with us,” Wilson said. “I think those guys — all the guys, sometimes — need our structure with tutorial help, medical and nutritional help. We can still have our penalties and still do things, educate, let alone get you some needs if you need things, but to say that you’re out of the family and on your own — you gotta go through some tough times with those guys. We’ll wait ’til the final things come out before we know for sure, then we’ll move accordingly and see how that happens.”

As Indiana looked forward to the start of the summer session on Friday, it lost a valuable in-state recruiting target. Winchester running back Kiante Enis committed to Michigan an hour after participating in a satellite camp at Bishop Chatard. Enis — the nephew of former Penn State star Curtis Enis — is considered a three-star prospect in the 2016 class.

Three-star Cincinnati Elder quarterback Peyton Ramsey is IU’s only current verbal commit in its 2016 recruiting class.

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