Hoosiers add o-lineman Benson to 2020 class

Mississippi offensive lineman Kahlil Benson has joined Indiana’s 2020 recruiting class.

Benson, a 6-foot-6, 332-pound offensive guard, was originally committed to Ole Miss but reopened his recruitment following coaching changes there. Ranked as the No. 44 guard in the country by 247Sports, he adds another quality piece to IU’s class.

Wednesday is the first day of the late signing period. In December, the Hoosiers signed 16 freshmen, a junior college lineman, Luke Haggard, and a grad transfer, former Stanford interior lineman Dylan Powell. That initial freshman group included four offensive linemen.

Benson adds another quality prospect to that mix. After his de-commitment from the Rebels, Benson was considering IU and Mississippi State. He also had offers from LSU, Tennessee, Memphis, and Kentucky, among others.

IU made a big push for Benson, sending almost its entire contingent of coaches on a home visit at the end of January. The traveling party included head coach Tom Allen and line coach Darren Hiller, as well as Nick Sheridan, Brandon Shelby, Grant Heard, Kane Wommack, Jason Jones, and Kasey Teegardin.

Along with Benson, the Hoosiers also added defensive end Jalen Mayala as a 2020 signee on Wednesday. Mayala, a 6-6 end from Dacula, Ga., verbally committed to the Hoosiers in late January.

In other news, 247Sports’ Chip Brown is reporting that IU defensive line coach Mark Hagen will join Tom Herman’s staff at Texas. Between his stints at IU (2011-12 and 2016-19), Hagen was an assistant at Texas A&M (2013-15).

This will force the Hoosiers to hire another assistant coach, following two additions earlier this offseason. Because of Kalen DeBoer’s hire as head coach at Fresno State, and William Inge following him there as defensive coordinator, Allen moved Nick Sheridan to offensive coordinator and Kasey Teegardin to special teams. That opened up spots for new tight ends coach Kevin Wright and safeties coach Jason Jones, who were officially introduced last month.


  1. And Coach Hagen is gone. Heading to UT

    AUSTIN, Texas — Texas will hire Mark Hagen, Indiana’s assistant defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, as the final member of Tom Herman’s revamped coaching staff, a source close to the situation told Horns247.com.

  2. Too bad he didn’t take his old former staff member at Houston, Hiller, instead. Pretty disturbing. Let’s hope CTA wasn’t totally blindsided and has suitable replacement(s) lined up. This is turning out to be more than just signing day for high schoolers.

  3. Benson is a big pick up for IU and the OL. I understand why coach Hagan is leaving as I would have never left with my family behind and now he can be with them again. It gives coach Allen another chance to hit a HR in hiring a coach, like the last two, to improve the staff.

  4. Benson is a nice pick up, but this class has now dropped to #56 nationally and is still #12 in the B1G. That won’t get it done if TA wants to consistently field a team that isn’t in the bottom of the conference.

    V13 – Are you saying Mark Hagen’s family stayed in Texas when he came back to IU in 2016? That doesn’t make much sense as I thought his wife was an IU grad as well, although I may be wrong on that assumption.

    This development is quite a shock. On February 3rd, Hagen tweeted: “My #OneWord for 2020 is PERSEVERANCE‼️ #LEO”. So much for inspiring perseverance and living LEO!
    In my opinion, Mike Hart and Hagen have been our two best recruiters. Hagen is/was the lead recruiter for IU’s only 2021 recruit, defensive end Rodney McGraw. Wonder how this development might influence McGraw’s ultimate decision and those of other highly rated recruits Hagen was trying to convince to come to IU.

    I could see Hagen leaving for a DC position, but this doesn’t even seem like a lateral move for him. Can’t believe TA couldn’t find enough money to keep Hagen.

    All I can say is that Hagen abruptly leaving is not a good development. Same old story for IU football, one step forward with the 8 win season, and 4 steps backward with the departure of Deboer, Cronk, Ramsey, and now Hagen.

    1. R67,
      Not sure what you are looking at but Rivals is showing at #49. That being said, I don’t know how many times it is going to have to be said but the rankings are very secondary to the player average. The number of players recruited always skews the actual strength of a recruiting class. As of the latest 2 signings the IUFB average is at 2.95 which makes all three of TA’s full recruiting classes the best in IUFB history. Traditionally IUFB recruiting would be in the 2.75 or below range. Biggest disappointment I have is that the average didn’t continue upwards of 3.0. Took on 2 recruits who were rated at 2*.

      As for Hagen’s departure, why wouldn’t he? It is the University of Texas calling him. They have made some bad decisions on coaching since their last national championship, but they are still Texas. It could hardly be considered a lateral transfer from IUFB or all but 3 teams in the B1G for that matter.

    2. I disagree! Three steps forward and one step back. But change is inevitable. So make the most of it! Another opportunity to improve the staff! TX has been a revolving door of late. IU and TX do not recruit the same kids.

      1. BP,
        Not sure where you are coming from on the step backwards other than dropping back to a 2.95 at this point. As for TX, they’ve made some major program mistakes. Whether or not, Herman can get them back to the top remains to be seen. Coaching at UT ain’t the same as coaching at UH.

        1. What was IU’s average for 2019 recruits/per recruit? I don’t see 2.95?as dropping back. Especially if you have followed the reports about Bonds, the 2 star safety from TX. I predict he is a rotation safety for IU as a true freshman. Baldwin from VA is the other 2 star as a RB. He is a quality runner. IU’s RB’s are becoming a real asset!

  5. Ranger 67 being realistic. Consistently recruiting ranked in the 40’s and 50’s, low in conference, and losing to many lead players and coaching staff = play out to eventually lower finish in big ten if not sooner than later.

  6. Here’s one I’m sure will peak H4H’s interest. TA is saying that MP is up to 220 thus far in the off season. He was at 202 in the 2019 season. Hope the S&C guys have got this going in the right direction.

  7. The talent of the players not their ranking will determine how IU does in the B1G. People forget that players like Spriggs 2 star and Mitchell Paige being unranked along with a number of other IU players didn’t really show their ability. I will wait to see how this class works out on the field before I decide if it isn’t good enough to compete and win in the B1G East.

    Recruiting OL men brings down the overall rating for many schools and IU bringing in 7 this class is one reason the ranking is lower. Nebraska is full of 4 star players and yet look at the season they had this year.

    1. Recruiting a certain position group has absolutely nothing to do with lowered class rankings. Not saying rankings are the end all, be all, but saying the class is rated lower because it focused on O linemen simply isn’t correct.

      1. Find me a year where the 100th ranked OT had a higher rating than the 100th ranked WR. I’ll wait.

        1. But there are many more I linemen only the board than most positions. IU missed on most of their O line recruits and had to take other kids. That’s why the ratings are lowered. The position group argument isn’t accurate at all.

          1. For reference, here’s the last five year’s composite averages per top 350 rankings:
            The WR position averages 54 players in the top 350
            The OT position averages 29 players in the top 350.

            All three major recruiting services rank offensive linemen in general, lower than other position groups. Does that make sense? No. OL players should be ranked higher IMO.

        1. It really isn’t. IU had a really tough year recruiting O linemen. Benson is a decent late addition, but their higher rated guys all went elsewhere. It was a tough year and they badly needed kids, so they took what they could get.

          1. Would you like for me to expand it to top 500 or top 1000? Because it only weakens your argument.

          1. Bit for the most part, those aren’t the kids IU is chasing and getting anyway. It’s why it really isn’t applicable to this year’s class, at least from the standpoint of how players are evaluated.

          2. I think the weakness is relying on recruiting service rankings, but none of it weakens the argument in any way or explains away the subpar recruiting from this year.

  8. Overall, today’s good news exceeds the bad news. This new recruit is a great get for IU, and when IU beats out four SEC schools, including LSU, for a recruit, it’s a very good day. I love the photo of all the coaches with this kid’s family.

    As for Hagen leaving, I’m not surprised because he’s done this before. He seems to be drawn to Texas, but really he’s drawn to the money. When wealthy programs like Texas, TA&M, LSU, AL, Clemson, etc. want to hire a position coach or another team’s Coordinator, there is nothing schools like IU can do to do to stop it. These schools’ FB programs generate so much revenue, and have established such cash surpluses, they can afford to pay whatever it takes to hire the man they want. And if he’s a bust, those cash surpluses are used to buyout the contracts of coaches being fired and/or pay the contract buyout of any coach they want to hire. Relative to the money these FB programs generate, Hagen’s contract, even if it included a contract buyout, is pocket change to Texas.

    Glass increased IU’s FB Coaching compensation budget by $500,000 this year, and that was good. But when the big FB schools come a knocking, IU is helpless to prevent their best coaches from being lured away by the big money. But the good news, seeing guys like Hagen and others moving up to bigger jobs with more money is a signal to younger, ambitious men that IU is a great pathway to career advancement. It allows TA to attract really good position coaches who are likely to be on their way up. Until IU starts selling out Memorial Stadium at significantly increased ticket prices, IU FB won’t generate enough revenue to establish the surpluses necessary to hire or preserve the best FB coaches. Don’t like it? Tell your fiends and neighbors to go to IU’s home games!

    And lastly, while I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes, I’ve thought for two years now that IU’s defensive line was the weakest part of the team. And I haven’t seen Hagen recruiting the level of talent to change the D-line from average to good, or even great. I’m optimistic that Hagen’s replacement will be an upgrade.

  9. According to USA Today’s Report on College FB Assistant Coaching salaries, in 2019 IU paid Mark Hagen a salary of $410,00. The man he is replacing at Texas, Oscar Giles had a salary of $400,500 last year. So in this case, it may not have been about money, but more about Hagen’s family. But still, I’ll bet Texas gave Hagen a nice increase in salary. He’ll need it, because homes in Austin are expensive! And I hope he’s comfortable with terrible traffic.

  10. Wish nothing but the best for Hagen. He’s a savvy individual. He smelled out the demise of Sumlin which fast tracked him back to IU. 2+2. He patiently waited his time to get to get an offer reuniting him with his family in Texas. Plan your work, work your plan. $400k will comfortably pay a $6k mo. mortgage payment. Lot of good DL position coaches to look at. Go IU!

  11. BD, “a decent late addition?” Benson appears to be far more than a decent late addition. He had offers from four SEC schools, including LSU! He’s ranked as the 44th best Guard in the country! He may be the highest rated O-linemen IU has ever signed. I’d call that a GREAT late addition!

    With these HUGE young men, who, unlike smaller skill-position players, are usually far from fully developed when they arrive as freshman, no matter how they’re ranked coming out of HS, they have to be developed, both mentally and physically, but especially physically. They’re often very big, but don’t have the strength needed to support their size/mass, or have the muscle stamina required to compete at a high level. So a school like IU, who is never going to sign any of the top 20 highest ranked O-linemen in the country, must count on recruiting guys with the right body type and “fire,” and then develop them for a year or two. Guys like Cronk, who played as freshman, are the exceptions, and probably got thrown into the fire as freshman, not because they were so good, but because IU’s depth was so thin. You look at Wisconsin’s O-line. They recruit big kids that are 2 and 3-star ranked players coming out of HS, then develop them for two years as they compete with veterans in practice, so that by the time their Juniors or Seniors, they’re really good. It has worked for Wisconsin for decades, so IU should copy that strategy.

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