Allen excited about signees: “What do these guys become?”

The 23 prospects Indiana signed on Wednesday hail from 10 different states. Twelve are headed for the defensive side of the ball, eight are headed for offense, two more are athletes and another is a kicker.

Together, they form one of IU’s highest-rated recruiting classes in recent memory.

Indiana signed each of its 21 verbal commits, while adding two others to its 2018 recruiting class on Wednesday, the first day of the new early signing period. Those players comprise a class ranked No. 34 nationally by Rivals and No. 41 by 247 Sports, some of the loftiest ratings this program has seen.

While acknowledging the high marks for this class at the annual signing day press conference, Indiana coach Tom Allen also rightfully took a pragmatic view of the program’s latest off-season haul.

“What do these young men develop into?” Allen said. “That’s the question. What do these guys look like two years from now, three years from now? You’ve got to go back. Nobody really knows that right now. You get fired up about rankings and all that. This is a great class in that regard. I still don’t focus on that. Didn’t focus on it last year. Don’t focus on it this year. It’s what do these guys become?”

Soon, Allen and his staff will be able to make their initial evaluations.

Four players — defensive end James Head, receiver Jacolby Hewitt, quarterback Michael Penix and running back Ronnie Walker — will enroll at IU for the spring semester and participate in spring practice.

Walker, a heralded prospect from Virginia, is among the most exciting players in the group, choosing the Hoosiers over the home-state Cavaliers and Michigan State.

“Ronnie led his team to a state championship a couple weeks ago,” Allen said. “He’s really, I think, a tremendously talented player, strong, fast, great balance, great vision, and really used to running our system.”

Allen feels like this class begins to address several needs on both sides of the ball — offensive line, defensive line, secondary, quarterback and linebacker. The IU coach said one of the class’s two athletes, former Rutgers commit Stevie Scott, could play either linebacker or running back.

As the Hoosiers approach the second and final signing period, which runs Feb. 7 through April 1, 2018, Allen envisions filling three or four additional spots, particularly on defense.

“There’s some variables involved in that,” Allen said. “Attrition, you flow through. As guys go and make decisions about staying in school or leaving for the NFL or guys decide that, hey, I want to be able to go, and I may not see myself getting to play like I want to here. I maybe want to transfer. Things happen. That’s part of it. We won’t know that for sure. I can see possibly growing three or four more guys in this class. It’s a realistic possibility. Not much more than that.”

Even with the early signing period, which should help programs such as Indiana retain commits against the late pushes of more traditionally successful programs, Allen said there were still some bigger football schools trying to poach IU’s committed players as recently as the past few weeks.

Allen was pleased that each high school player honored their commitment, and he has a theory on why they did.

“They tried with our guys,” Allen said. “I think the reason why they weren’t as effective this year is because of the relationships that were built. When you have strong ties with the family, then those attempts are much less effective.”


  1. Coach Allen is right about this class and every class, what do they become. It will be several years before we see how good this class can be but on paper and film it is a solid class with hard working players.

  2. I love our football coach. I’m going to freestyle that his first season was an opportunity to just learn the position and will clean up mistakes that were made this season. Whether that means firing any of our assistant coaches remains to be seen.

    Whoever wanted to fire Tom Allen after this season has no idea what they’re talking about. The man needs four years to get his system and players integrated into his system. It will be interesting to see how the program progresses and can only hope we can put a winning product onto the field. Hopefully the turn-around starts this upcoming season and I can watch IU Football in confidence instead of worrying about my beard going pre-maturely gray at 37 watching IU Football.

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