Allen, IU gearing up for early signing period

In the weeks since Indiana’s Nov. 25 season-ending loss at Purdue, Tom Allen and his coaching staff have been crisscrossing the country, looking to tie a bow on IU’s 2018 recruiting class.

This is standard December protocol for coaches around college football, only this year, it comes with a greater sense of urgency.

In May, the Collegiate Commissioners Association approved a 72-hour signing window that runs Dec. 20-22, allowing prospects who are verbally committed to Division I schools to officially sign their National Letters of Intent.

After years of signing day hoopla on the first Wednesday of February, the majority of prospects are now expected to sign during the December early period. Players may still sign during the traditional period, which runs Feb. 7-April 1, 2018, but the priority for Allen and his colleagues is getting the majority of their committed players signed next week.

“You’ve got to decide who is going to sign on this date, who is going to sign on the other date,” Allen said. “Because it’s the first time doing it, I think there are a lot of unknowns, a lot of question marks that we’re having to deal with. It’s definitely made it very challenging calendar-wise. We’re just going to have to learn and grow through it. Talking to the other coaches, too, everybody is in the same boat.”

In college football recruiting, nothing is binding until a National Letter of Intent is signed and received. Recruiting doesn’t stop with a mere verbal commitment.

The early period will give schools clarity about the direction of their recruiting efforts earlier than normal, while allowing those prospects who are truly committed to programs a chance to end their recruitment — and the accompanying stream of calls, texts and visits — once and for all.

Along with opening a signing window in December, the NCAA will also allow rising high school seniors to begin taking official visits from April through June in light of the shift in the recruiting calendar. That could potentially benefit a school like Indiana, which will now be able to showcase the spring and summer setting in Bloomington as opposed to the winter.

As the Hoosiers navigate the final week of the signing period, they do so with a clear priority — quarterback.

In the past week, Indiana lost two quarterback targets — Terry Wilson to Kentucky and La’Darius Jefferson to Michigan State. It could be that 5-foot-10 Ben Davis dual-threat quarterback Reese Taylor, who originally committed to IU as an athlete/defensive back, begins his college career at the position.

Indiana addressed another need in its defensive backfield late Monday night, securing a commitment from three-star Florida safety Devon Matthews, who had previously been committed to South Florida.

Right now, IU is trying to hit several areas of need.

“You go through and you look at your current roster, and we need to sign a quarterback,” Allen said. “That’s a huge priority. Have to be able to shore ourselves up in the secondary just because of graduation. Linebacker, I think, continues to be a priority, as well as you got individual spots where you say, ‘Hey, if you get the right person you plug them in here and there.’

“Those would be the glaring things that stick out now. Obviously, securing the guys we already have committed and making sure they sign with us (is a priority).”

As it stands, Indiana currently has 20 players committed for 2018 and could add a handful of others, though the final number is typically a moving target — and will stay that way with the traditional signing period still in play.

According to 247 Sports, Indiana’s class is ranked ninth in the Big Ten and No. 40 nationally, which, if it holds, would be ranked higher than any of Kevin Wilson’s classes at IU. Wilson’s highest ranked class was the No. 42 haul in 2013, which featured defensive tackle Darius Latham, safety Antonio Allen, defensive end David Kenney and corner Rashard Fant, among others.

“Recruiting is a huge part of building our program and building on the foundation that is being laid to allow us to continue to grow,” Allen said.

7 comments

  1. “. . . Indiana, which will now be able to showcase the spring and summer setting in Bloomington . . . .”
    Summer? In Bloomington? Enticing to a sweathog, maybe.

    1. For some of these kids ut will be the coolest summer they’ve ever experienced. Ever spent a summer in the South?

      1. Chet I’m in solid agreement. I try hard to not go south of the Ohio River between April and October. I know I’m in a position to pick and choose but I developed that travel preference after spending near 3 straight weeks of June 1991 in Winona Mississippi doing consulting work with at that time a new customer. I still do work for that customer and I have a trip planned there in February. Lessons learned. There is no humidity in Indiana anywhere comparable to the humidity and heat that is in Mississippi or any of the deep South in the Summer. It’s absolutely draining as you know.

        1. One of the poorest decisions I ever made was accepting a starting date for Aviation Officers’ Candidate School at the beginning of August.

          Florida+August+USMC Drill Instructors.

          Do the math.

          1. +1 for the USMC before you unpacked your sea bag. What a guy won’t do to get a leg up. Sometimes I think I’d never do that again. But….

  2. Dito, HC; been there and done that in the summer months, and even having grown up in the humidity of the southern part of the midwest, that’s a much higher level of humidity down there. I vividly remember walking from my hotel room to my rental car, carrying my suitcase and brief case through the parking lot. By the time I got to the car, my dress shirt was soaked. And it stayed soaked through the entire day. Tolerated it as a younger man, but as I age, I choose not to subject myself to that any more. And somehow, I always got stuck doing business in North Dakota and MN is January and February. That’s equally bad on the other side of the weather spectrum. These young men will find Bloomington a very mild climate next summer.

    1. Part of the equation is the lower latitudes and the angle of the sun. The sun is just so much more intense. Ninety degrees in Indiana, even if it is humid, is not the same as 90 degrees with that intense southern sun.

      That is exactly why the University of Miami always tries to play as many home games as possible early in the season so they can watch their oopponents wilt.

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