Analyzing IU football’s 2020 class

As college football fans seek answers on every new recruiting class, sites like 247Sports try to offer a gauge.

And if their recruiting experts are right, the Hoosiers’ latest class stacks up much like the last two.

In a way, that’s good news. IU hadn’t brought in back-to-back top 50 classes until last year, when the nation’s No. 36 group followed a No. 50-rated haul. If the recruiting calendar ended today, IU would be back at No. 50 for 2020.

As far as the sink in the trend line, class size affects things. The 2018 haul had 28 enrollees, 10 more than 2020. Last year, IU brought in 22, but one of those was running back Sampson James (the No. 181 prospect nationally). In ‘18 and ‘20, IU’s highest-ranked recruits were Ronnie Walker (No. 429) and Rashawn Williams (No. 347), respectively.

So the Hoosiers are at No. 50, with much less volume than the last time they landed there, and without one or two standouts to pull up the ranking. This appears to be more of an even class from top to bottom.

Also, Tiawan Mullen (No. 547) was the fifth-ranked prospect in the Hoosiers’ 2019 class, behind four-stars James, Beau Robbins (256), and Cameron Williams (301), as well as three-star Josh Sanguinetti (417). Projections are far from infallible, whether they are guessing at short- or long-term potential.

But, again, recruiting experts can offer better guesses than anyone else. That is why we reached out to 247Sports’ midwest recruiting analyst, Allen Trieu, for perspective on the Hoosiers’ latest haul.

A ‘spread out’ group

No, there are no signees from Florida in IU’s current class. If that holds, this will be the first year since 2010 the Hoosiers haven’t tapped the Sunshine State pipeline.

But Trieu was still impressed by the variety in this group. Aside from six in-state signees, IU grabbed pairs from Georgia, Virginia, and Michigan. California and Texas are also represented.

It’s also diversified by position. There are six offensive linemen, because that was an area of need. Otherwise, the Hoosiers found good prospects at each position.

“My biggest impression of the group is it’s pretty well spread out, there’s talent at every level,” Trieu said. “I think there’s some good skill talent, and that’s where it’s ranked at the top of the class with Rashawn Williams and (running back) Tim Baldwin Jr. I feel pretty good about the quarterback (Dexter Williams).”

The Williamses

Speaking of Dexter Williams, the quarterback from Georgia, Trieu was high on his potential.

It’s just his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame that limited his ceiling as a recruit.

“He has a really big arm, can make all the throws, can get the ball downfield, and there is mobility added into that,” Trieu said. “He can make plays happen with his feet and can make throws on the run without losing velocity, because he has such a strong arm.

“The only thing working against him is height, but all the tools are there.”

The other Williams, Rashawn, did not put up gaudy numbers at Detroit King his senior season, finishing with 34 receptions for 465 yards and five touchdowns. But that came against tough competition.

“He’s been a top playmaker for really three seasons now at one of the top programs in Michigan,” Trieu said. “He does get pegged as a possession receiver … he’s not a track star. But he really goes up and gets the ball well. He’s better after the catch than he gets credit for.”

Nicknamed “Trouble,” the 6-2 target certainly created issues for East St. Louis in a game Trieu watched in 2018, including one touchdown where he juked past a defender and ran over another to get in the end zone.

“That game, and what he did in his career, going against a lot of fellow Division I recruits, really elevated his stock in my mind,” Trieu said.

Barner, Watley-Neely ‘under the radar’

Tight end A.J. Barner was an Ohio commit before he flipped to the Hoosiers. But he’s not necessarily a MAC-level talent.

Michigan State was in pursuit, as well, and Trieu believes IU may have landed a “steal” in the 6-6 target. A defensive player of the year in Ohio, Barner is physical and tough.

“Schools started to find out about him as a senior. It’s kind of like ‘How does he not have more offers?’” Trieu said.

While Barner’s recruitment was slower than maybe it needed to be, cornerback Lem Watley-Neely out of Michigan may have also been overlooked.

Trieu points out that Watley-Neely played at three different high schools. IU offered him after a seven-pick season at Detroit East English Village in 2017, before Michigan State and Kentucky came sniffing around.

“He might be next to garner what I would say is a steal in this class,” Trieu said. “IU offered him early, he was really good early. He’s been to two different high schools since then. But every time I’ve seen him in a 7-on-7, or a game, he’s been outstanding.

“I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit.”

Grading the linemen

IU received pledges from Fort Wayne Dwenger’s Luke Wiginton and Noblesville’s Cameron Knight earlier in the process, but late additions really bolstered this group.

Fort Wayne Snider’s Randy Holtz, IndyStar’s Mr. Football for o-linemen, committed Tuesday and signed Wednesday. Luke Haggard, a junior college lineman from California, committed on signing day.

Haggard is 6-7 and just 265 pounds, but he has upside.

“I like the leaner offensive tackles, I think they can quickly build him up and get him up to speed,” Trieu said.

Brady Feeney, a 6-4, 325-pound guard from St. Louis, should be a sturdy interior presence. His father, Todd, was a tight end at Michigan State.

“I think he is one of the safest bets in this class,” Trieu said. “He plays extremely hard, does everything right, on and off the field. I think he’s going to be very solid, reliable. One of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind kinds of guys, which is good when you play offensive line.

“He got hurt toward the end of his senior year (knee). As long as he comes in healthy and ready to go, he’s my safest bet to be a multi-year starter at IU.”

One comment

  1. I tend to like kids who pick IU. We got all 3 Stars except for the one 4 Star, Williams from MI, and the two 2 Stars, Baldwin the RB from VA and Bonds the safety from TX. This analyst was high on Baldwin, so, to me, he is a 3 Star. Bonds proved his abilities in a high division of TX HS Football. That means a lot to me. I expect him to be in the rotation at safety from the beginning. Forget the 4 game redshirt rule for this kid. He will be a player. He is clearly a 3 Star level kid! This class is slightly over 3.0 per recruit, with my additions. Plus Spegal is awesome and the 4 Star DE from AZ is still a possibility, he looks like an immediate starter, if we can get him!

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