Written by Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3)
Number of Commits: 26 (6 Early Enrollees)
- Scout: 44th Nationally (8th in the Big Ten)
- Rivals: 37th Nationally (7th in the Big Ten)
- 247: 60th Nationally (10th in the Big Ten)
- 247 Composite: 51st Nationally (9th in the Big Ten)
Highest Ranked Player:
★★★ | Dominique Booth | WR | 6’1” 205 | Pike (Indianapolis, IN)
Booth has a very good frame and strength for the position. While he has a good burst off the line, he lacks the playing speed that he will have to improve to be successful at the collegiate level. Booth is a tough receiver who has no fear going over the middle or competing in traffic. He has natural ball skills and adjusts to passes well and fights for yards after the catch. He might have trouble creating separation at the next level, and in running away from defenders after the catch. The slot is likely where you will seem him, as he is a natural fit at the position.
Highest Ranked Player Signed on National Signing Day:
★★★ | Will Dawkins | WR/S | 5’11” 195 | Vero Beach (Vero Beach, FL)
Dawkins has the size, strength and speed to play the defensive safety position on the BCS level. He has a nice frame that should handle the bulk from development in a college weight system. He has very good athleticism, and playing speed allowing him to show of very solid range and quality recovery speed. He has very good instincts and always plays in position against both the run and the pass. His coverage skills will allow him to play both man zone and man coverage, as he keeps his eyes on the quarterback and shows good route awareness. An aggressive ball hawk, Dawkins also is a downhill run supporter and can even blitz the passer. He will start at special teams but on a defense like the Hoosiers, it would not be surprising to see Dawkins in early situational playing time.
Biggest Negative Surprise:
★★★ | Airius Moore | LB | 6’1” 215 | Beavercreak (Dayton, OH)
The Buckeye State native committed to play his college ball in Bloomington back in October. He had decided on the Hoosiers over other programs such as Cincinnati, and Illinois. He looked to be all set to put his name on the dotted line on National Signing Day. However, those plans changed and a move to the ACC is what the linebacker as he was swayed to become a part of the Wolf Pack of North Carolina State.
Biggest Positive Surprise:
★★★ | Greg Gooch | LB | 6’2” 240 | Lyman (Longwood, FL)
48-hours before signing day kicked off the Hoosiers grabbed a big surprise score in the linebacker from the sunshine state. A thickly built linebacker with above average height, he displays good strength in both his upper and lower body. Gooch shows good range, but has trouble getting pointed in the correct direction quickly enough. He is able to play downhill quickly and is physical at the point of attack. He may struggle in space, but with the new 3-4 in Bloomington he could thrive as a physical, high motor middle linebacker who makes his mark playing downhill. After the signing day flip of ILB Airius Moore to North Carolina State, the signing of Gooch is even bigger than we thought at the time that it came down the pipe.
★★★ | J-Shun Harris | WR | 5’8” 165 | Fishers (Fishers, IN)
While Harris might be a bit shorter than desirable at the wide receiver spot on the BCS level, his speed makes up for it. His raw speed, and athleticism are what turned coach Kevin Johns’ head. As a junior Harris finished fifth in the state in the he 100-meters posting an impressive time of 10.96 seconds. With his smaller stature and game-breaking speed, Harris looks to be similar to current Indiana dynamo Shane Wynn.
Offensive Class Reaction:
While the Hoosiers offensive haul is solid, it does lack the top-level talent that will be needed to take the next step and a unit. We have seen what this coaching staff can do with talent that wasn’t highly recruited, however, they will have to show that they can continue to develop said talent if they want to continue to be successful. While skill positions such as wide receiver (5 commits) and running back (2 commits) were highly coveted, they seemingly came at the expense of the offensive line. This is nothing new when it comes to recruiting for the Hoosiers as they have long had skill players who can put up big numbers, but not the trench play to get the work done in the physical Big Ten. While the staff did secure the commitment of four linemen, two of them are just 2-star players and two are from the JUCO ranks. Delroy Baker is the only true freshman rated at least three-stars on this line class.
Defensive Class Reaction:
Last year Kevin Wilson and company made a splash on the defensive side of the football bringing in Darius Latham, Antonio Allen, David Kenney and Rashard Fant. The four defensive players were the four highest ranked players that Indiana signed last year. Unfortunately, the staff was not able to parlay that into continued success as the Hoosiers were only able to scoop up a pair of defensive players rated over an 85 overall, in the 247 Composite Rankings. While the Ohio natives Tegray Scales and Michael Barwick are nice pieces, they should be just that, a piece of this class. Unfortunately they are the cornerstones. While 12 defensive players officially committed to play at Indiana on National Signing Day, it was not the continued injection of young talent that is needed to turn the abysmal Hoosier defense around.
Overall Class Reaction:
It was a strong finish for the Hoosiers, and they desperately needed it. It was a whirlwind as 12 of what would be a class of 26 members committed over the final month of the recruiting cycle. While the Hoosiers did score some talent, which also typically means that they struck out elsewhere beforehand. After bringing in arguably the best recruiting haul in the history of the program last year, the 2014 class is a clear step back for Indiana. While the overall depth is solid, there is a lack of top tier talent that is needed to compete at the BCS level. The coaching staff will have their work cut out for them, as it will take a lot to mold this group into more than a fringe bowl team at best. Middle of the pack amongst the Big Ten would be a generous title for the group that Wilson brought in. While he has clearly distanced the Hoosiers from the basement of the Big Ten conference recruiting rankings, the Hoosiers saw their class rating numbers dip for the first time since 2009, after a slow but steady rise. While this recruiting haul is far from disappointing, what was just that was the inability to parlay last years recruiting success into more in 2014. The bowless 2013 campaign didn’t help things, and if they have not yet, it is time for Kevin Wilson and his staff to start feeling a little less comfortable as far as their job security goes.