Saturday, June 19, 2010

Should IU Target These Stud Football Recruits?

OK, for all you critics who believe Bill Lynch and his staff spend too much time on three-star guys and not enough time on superstars, here are a few thoughts.

Tom Lemming, one of the most respected recruiting analysts in the country, has come out with his list of the top 100 studs for the Class of 2011. These are the best of the best, the guys Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, Penn State and Florida will go after.

Now imagine you’ve just been named Indiana’s head football coach. You’ve got the pressure to become a perennial bowl participant, and the No. 1 priority is getting and developing talent. Do you go after these players, knowing the competition you’re facing, or do you go after players you have a better chance to land?

It would help if some of these players were from the state of Indiana. A lot of guys want to stay close to home. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, no one in Lemming’s top-100 is from Indiana, although you’ve got some from Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.

Is that close enough? You’ll have to make that call.

You could just go with need. IU needs defensive players. It could use a great pass rushing defensive end, a dominating linebacker, a shutdown cornerback. On Lemming’s list you have Jadeveon Clowney, a 6-6, 240-pound defensive end from South Carolina rated as the nation’s No. 2 player. You’ve got No. 4 Stephone Anthony (North Carolina linebacker), No. 14 Ray Drew (6-5, 245-pound defensive end from Georgia), No. 16 Wayne Lyons (Florida defensive back) and No. 17 Jermauria Rasco (a 6-4, 244 pounds defensive end from Louisiana).

Those are just the guys in the top 20. They are difference makers. Sign a few of these guys and who knows what you could do.

Of course, all these players are from SEC country. They grew up watching Louisiana State, Alabama and Florida kick rump. They know all about Florida State and Texas, who aren’t in the SEC, but who are elite football powers. Yes, we know Florida State has a new coach and hasn’t dominated lately, but the Seminoles still have recruiting clout.

So you’re going to have to convince these guys to come to Indiana. Yes, the Hoosiers now have the nation’s largest weight room. Renovated Memorial Stadium is very impressive. And the Big Ten is very much a cool conference to play in.

Still, is that enough? What do you think the odds are of any of these guys coming to Indiana? Would you and your staff better utilize your resources by targeting players a step down from this list?

That, in fact, is what Lynch and his staff have done. They target players they have the best chance of signing. Sure, if Clowney wants to wear Cream ‘n Crimson, the Hoosiers will offer him. If not, they’ll move on to the next guy.

And so they have.

For the record, IU has players from Florida and Georgia and California and Texas. They’re not superstars, but they have potential. If they work hard, if the coaches put them in their best positions and develop them to their fullest, they can make a difference. They can take the Hoosiers where they want to be.

In an ideal world, the Hoosiers can have classes loaded with 4- and 5-star guys. But you know what? In the end you win with quality guys, effort guys, high-motor guys, players who don’t get out of position, who are disciplined and accountable and who care. Players who lead, who do the right things on and off the field, including going to class and earning solid grades.

If Lynch gets enough of those players, he’ll win. He has two years to get it done. In truth, there needs to be a big jump made this season. If not, he’ll be gone and someone else will get a shot.

And then the critics will have a new target to pick on.


  1. I agree that getting these "studs" will not be easy but that's the difference between a good and a great coach.
    On the other hand sure some 3 star players become leaders and pros and some 4 star players falter, but on the whole the more top recruits a team has, the better they are.

    I'm actually only a mild critic of the program. I just don't expect much and I'm sort of comfortable with that. On the other hand too much hype gets me upset.

  2. Lynch is continuing with Hep's recruiting plan (which I personally agree with). You can classify recruits into three levels (A, B, & C). The A's are what Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. will be able to bring in. The C's and low B's are what the smaller conferences (ie - MAC) will bring in. At the time Hep was hired IU was bringing in C's and Low B talent (ie - MAC level). Hep's mentality was if he could begin by fielding a team of "MAC All-stars" IU could be competitive in the Big Ten. Once competitive he could start landing the bigger and bigger fish.

    To build a program that is going to be successful year after year, you have to have a strong foundation. I agree that Lynch has got to show something this year. But I will give him credit that he is building the foundation of a successful program.

  3. While I have my gripes with Coach Lynch's X's & O's, the 2011 class is exceeding my, albeit low, expectations. And let's not forget:

    James Hardy = 2 stars
    Tracy Porter = zero stars
    Jamie Kirlew = 2 stars
    Nick Polk = 2 stars
    Ben Chappell = 2 stars
    Demarlo Belcher = zero stars
    Tandon Doss = 2 stars
    Chris Hagerup = 2 stars
    Rodger Saffold = 2 stars
    Ray Fischer = 2 stars
    Will Patterson = 2 stars
    Greg Middleton = 2 stars
    Andrew Means = 2 stars

    And the list goes on. All players I think most Big Ten teams would have liked on their roster. I know the odds of players panning-out increases with their perceived recruit rankings, but I think the opportunity for early playing time at IU helps some of these lesser-recruited players develop ahead of schedule and become strong Junior/Senior contributors.

  4. Nobody expects IU to get a top 100 player, but we shouldn't always be DFL (last) in the Big Ten recruiting rankings.