We are inching closer to the halfway point between National Signing Day 2013 and its namesake on the 2013 calendar. It has been a little over five months now since Kevin Wilson was able to bring in more four-star recruits in a single class than his predecessors did in the 11 previous seasons combined. However, the momentum that the staff had to close out the 2013 class did not seem to carry over to 2014. Indiana received their first commitment to the 2014 class on June 2nd, 2013 from Michael Barwick. Just over a week early, to the day, from when the coaches heard from Isaac Griffith back in 2013.
While on its own merits the news was exciting, Barwick is still arguably the highest rated recruit to join the class thus far, the fact of the matter is that it once again signaled a late start for Hoosier recruiting. While other programs had already signed handfuls of players, Indiana has just one. But that’s when the dominoes started to fall again.
In the five weeks after Barwick pledged to the Hoosiers, seven other targets followed suit. It was an incredible month of June for the staff, a month in which they saw four 3-star level players commit to play their college ball in Bloomington. It didn’t stop there though. As the beginning of July has been nearly as fruitful, as Indiana has already picked up two more offers. The 2014 class as it stands has eight commits.
While you didn’t see any of the highly touted four-star level players that were part of the 2013 class, remember that none of those players committed to Indiana until the fall kicked off. Those players are still out there and while they might not be quite as highly regarded by the recruiting services as the headliners of last year’s class, they are surely nothing to scoff at. However, there is much work to be done if the Hoosiers expect to compete amongst the big boys in the Big Ten. As it currently stands Indiana is dead last in the conference according to the 247 composite team rankings.
On the offensive side of the ball the coaching staff is clearly putting an emphasis on strengthening the line depth. While this might seem a bit odd as the team will not graduate a single lineman in the offseason. However, if you look just a bit down the road, after the 2014 season as many as six offensive linemen could need to be replaced on the roster. The Hoosiers already have three linemen in the fold for 2014. The staff pulled Delroy Baker out of Ocala, Florida. The tackle spurned his home state Florida Gators, instead choosing to play Big Ten football. The staff once again used their relationship with Iowa Western Community College, where they grabbed two players from this year, to snag the 6’5” 325 pound mountain of a man that is DeAndre Herron. While he is a junior college transfer, one can’t help but be excited when that type of size is brought in. The final piece of the line already in place is Wesley Martin, a lightly recruited guard out of the fertile recruiting state of Ohio.
The staff has turned their attention to the final two pieces of the offensive line puzzle for 2014. The most important of which without question is Lukayus McNeil out of Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis. The 6’7” prospect has offers from the likes of Iowa, Louisville, and Virginia Tech. It is Michigan State however, who poses the greatest threat to the Hoosiers in the tackle’s recruitment. As of now McNeil should be considered a Indiana lean and would be the cornerstone of the class.
Next on the list along the offensive line is Lone Star State prospect Cole Anderson. The 3-Star recruit is being recruited heavily, checking in with 13 offers, although none of them coming from the larger in-state programs. Offensive line coach Greg Frey is Anderson's lead recruiter, who just needs to make sure the lineman makes a visit to campus to give them a shot.
In regards to the skill positions on offense, the Hoosiers have already secured a commitment from Alexander Diamont, a California signal caller with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, who is seemingly a tireless worker. The staff has already found Diamont a receiver to throw the ball to as well in J-Shun Harris. Harris is the Hoosiers most recent commitment, and while undersized, he has speed to burn.
With those two already in the fold Kevin Johns shifted their focus to finding more pass catchers to be a part of the 2014 class. First on the list is Lawrence Central receiver Kenny Jones. Jones is a 3-star prospect that has offers from three other BCS caliber programs. However the 6’2” wideout seemingly favors the in-state Hoosiers over the others.
While Jones would be considered a lean towards Indiana, the second target most certainly is not. It is a widely head belief that Cleveland Heights receiver Dorian Baker is strongly leaning towards playing at Pittsburgh as opposed to the eight other programs that have sent offers his way, including the Hoosiers. It will be a tough task, but again if the staff is able to convince him that taking the time to come visit campus is worth it, then they are in the game.
Flipping to the defensive side of the ball, the staff is focused in on the back seven, and most especially the linebacker position. The priorities changed after a fruitful defensive line class in 2013 in addition to being able to bring Barwick into the fold.
Number one on the list with a bullet is Lawrence Central product Brandon Lee. The four-star linebacker visited Bloomington a month ago along side the aforementioned Kenny Jones, his high school teammate. With Jones having Indiana as the leaders in his recruitment, having him tag along while Lee took in the campus was no accident. However, the Hoosiers are not without competition for Lee’s services. In fact he has 18 different scholarship offers from BCS level programs spanning the nation from Cal to Virginia Tech.
Just behind Lee on the list of priorities for Indiana is Tegray Scales. While he is not quite as highly regarded as Lee, the Cincinnati product has offers from the likes of Louisville and Wisconsin. Scales plays for Colerain, a very highly regarded program in the state of Ohio who consistently churns out division one prospects. He is currently ranked the number 36 outside linebacker in the 2014 class by the 247 composite as well as a top-25 player in the state of Ohio.
Last but certainly not least, we turn our attention to the secondary. The Hoosiers will likely be graduating five players from the unit lead by safety Greg Heban. To replace that depth defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and William Inge have set their sites on Micquell Cotton. The Illinois prospect is a bit undersized at just 5’9”, but is still rated as a 3-star prospect. Cotton is currently considered an Iowa State lean but look for Indiana and fellow Big Ten member Michigan State to have something to say about it before all is said and done.