Sunday, July 18, 2010
In-State Emphasis Paying Off For Indiana Football
And then there were seven.
That’s seven in-state football commitments for Indiana coach Bill Lynch out of 20 overall commitments for the Class of 2011. That’s the latest example of Lynch’s home-state emphasis and reflects the continued improvement of in-state talent.
Indiana will likely never produce as many elite football players as it does basketball players, but the gap is narrowing. Why? The high school coaching is better and the off-season development has improved (thanks to the IHSAA allowing coaches to work with their players), and the result is more in-state players are ready for major-conference impact.
Six of IU’s seven in-state commitments are rated with three stars (out of five) by Rivals.com. The seventh, Fort Wayne defensive back Kenny Mullen is at two stars, but that seems low given his overall athleticism and versatility.
The others are defensive back Nick Stoner of Greenwood, running back D’Angelo Roberts of Bloomington, quarterback Tre Robinson of Indianapolis, tight end Jake Reed of Columbus, linebacker Kyle Kennedy of Indianapolis and offensive lineman Ralston Evans of Indianapolis.
Besides being three-star players, these commitments were being recruited by schools from major conferences. In others words, IU is bringing in talented guys, although exactly how talented won’t be determined until they’ve been on campus for a couple of years.
Remember, Lynch will redshirt all freshmen unless they can be major contributors right away.
Of course, Indiana will never be confused with, say, Texas or Florida when it comes to football talent, but there's talent you can win with. If the Hoosiers can consisently get many of the state's best each year, they'll be in good shape.
Also, don’t be surprised if Indiana winds up getting commitments from a couple more players before the year is out even though it looks like they’re out of scholarships. Coaches like to keep some in reserve in case an unheralded player emerges with a big senior year or a blue-chip guy becomes available.
Yes, as we’ve mentioned before, coaches are allowed to over-sign as long as the scholarship number is at 85 by the time practice starts. So while it looks like IU will be five over the limit for next year, it will work itself out.
Overall, Indiana’s defensive emphasis is hard to miss. Thirteen of the commitments come from that side of the ball, including four cornerbacks, two safeties and four linebackers. Defense, as the saying goes, wins championships and the best example is Ohio State, which has dominated the Big Ten in recent years with rib-rocking defense.
It’s no coincidence, by the way, that IU’s two four-star commitments are on defense. That would be Ohio linebacker Zach Shaw and Michigan defensive back Raymon Taylor. However, Taylor is officially listed as an “athlete,” so who knows where he’ll end up.
Class balance is also important. You don’t want to have a situation where you have 20 seniors one year and two the next. You need a good blend of youth and experience.
IU seems to have that done. Its next five classes, starting with this group of 20, includes 22 redshirt freshmen, 17 sophomores, 12 juniors and 19 seniors.