THE HUDDLE

2013 Recruiting Redux: Playing Dominoes

Darius Latham dominating at NFTC camp

Darius Latham dominating at NFTC camp

Written By Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3)

Since we were not around to breakdown the 2013 recruiting cycle we have decided to go back over the class in the coming days and give you our analysis of how the Hoosiers faired.  This is the first part of a short series entitled “Recruiting Redux”, in which we will be taking a birds-eye view of how the 2013 class came to be.  In the coming editions of Recruiting Redux we will be breaking down individual position groups, immediate impact players, and long-term prospects.  Enjoy!

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Throughout the last decade Indiana football has been far from a recruiting juggernaut, to the point that the Hoosiers have never signed a recruiting class ranked in the top-50 nationally.  The most worrisome indicator was that IU had only signed one four-star ranked recruit in the decade preceding the 2013 class.

It was easy to explain away, as among BCS caliber teams Indiana brought up the rear when it came to all-time losses and winning percentage.  Why would top-level talent decide to come to Bloomington?  In-state there is always the presence of the powerhouse that is Notre Dame to contend with, not to mention the fact that just two hours to the north lies Purdue, another Big Ten member with a more prestigious history than that of IU.  Out-of-state there is a continuous war for the prospects coming out of the fertile Midwest recruiting grounds of Ohio, and the Chicago area that previous Hoosier coaching staffs were seemingly always on the loosing end of.

Despite the gloomy haze that had set over recruiting in Bloomington, head coach Kevin Wilson and his staff were able to change the outlook during the 2013 recruiting cycle.  Indiana hauled in their first top-50 class, sitting at number 46 nationally according to 247Sports.com.   The class was loaded with talent, at least by IU standards, and included commitments of four 4-star recruits, three of which were from the Indianapolis area.

The domino effect can often play a large role in a schools recruiting for a given cycle.  It is even more prevalent now that prospects interact with each other seemingly daily via Twitter, Facebook, etc.  In Indiana’s case it helped to provide the biggest recruiting haul in the programs history.

Lets start back where it all began, as this was far from an overnight process.  In fact despite their eventual success, Indiana was one of the final two BCS level programs to stand without a commitment for the 2013 class.  It wasn’t till June 11th, 2012 when Isaac Griffith from Fort Wayne (Homestead HS) decided to take his talents to Bloomington, choosing the Hoosiers over other Big Ten programs such as Wisconsin, Michigan State and Illinois.  Domino One.

When asked why he decided to stay in his home state to play college ball, Griffith replied, “I bonded well with the coaches, but I also bonded well with the players.  That really helped out with my decision.  It’s a big family down there, and that was the main thing I was looking for in a team.”

If that wasn’t departure in the attitude of recruits towards the Indiana program I don’t know what is.  However, Griffith’s impact didn’t stop there, as he reached out to fellow in-state prospect Antonio Allen, who to that point was an Ole Miss commit.  While it wasn’t easy, the staff via an assist by Griffith was able to build a relationship with Allen that eventually led to him decommitting from Mississippi and pledging to Indiana.  Domino Two.

With Griffith and Allen on board for the Hoosiers in 2013, along with the lesser-rated Chase Dutra, their recruiting effort shifted its focus towards two other already committed players.  The two new targets were Darius Latham who was committed to Wisconsin and David Kenney an Iowa commit.

The trio of already committed players jumped on social media platforms and made it known that they wanted to play with both Latham and Kenney in Bloomington.  They even attended Hoosier games together and quickly a bond grew amongst the group of in-state stars. 

On October 14th, Kenney announced that he was decommitting from the Iowa program.  Less than 24 hours after his announcement Latham informed Wisconsin that he would be doing the same.  Just a week later Kenney decided to commit to Indiana, making him the second four-star recruit in the Hoosiers’ 2013 class.  Domino Three.

As the in-state recruiting picture was coming into focus, out-of-state players began to take notice that something was happening in Bloomington.  Just over a week after Kenney’s commitment 3-star athlete Rashard Fant, a Georgia native decided to play his college football at Indiana while turning down an offer from southern powerhouse Florida State.  When asked why he would turn down a program that was so prestigious and close to home like Florida State for Indiana he stated, “I wanted to go somewhere where I could build a program, get a great education and make a difference.  I wanted to help a school not known for football and put the name on the map.”  Domino Four.

Approximately a month after Fant's decision to make the trip north to Indiana for college, Darius Latham made his decision that he too would be joining the 2013 Hoosiers’ recruiting class.  Latham choose to stay in-state, while turning down offers from blue blood programs such as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and Florida.  Latham was the third four-star pick-up for Kevin Wilson and arguably the highest rated recruit to ever step foot on Indiana’s campus.   Domino Five.

It is easy to see how the 2013 Hoosier class epitomizes the modern recruiting domino theory that could have an impact on the future of Indiana football.  While the obvious excitement, and rightfully so, in regards to the 2013 recruiting class is that IU has brought in the highest level of talent ever.  However, the more telling revelation is that Indiana scored three of the top-seven recruits from the state of Indiana, while Notre Dame and Purdue hauled in just one top-10 in-state prospect each.