Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
Note: Piece was completed prior to the commitment of quarterback Peyton Ramsey
While teams all around the Big Ten are in the process of adding to their 2016 classes, and in some cases their 2017 classes, the Hoosiers are one of only two teams, Purdue being the other, sitting at zero for this recruiting cycle. Not surprisingly, the National Championship Ohio State Buckeyes lead the way in the conference with 12 and six verbal pledges for 2016 and 2017 classes, respectively. While the lack of commitments for the Hoosiers has some fans concerned, I’ll take a closer look at Coach Wilson’s recruiting strategy and history that will hopefully put your minds at ease.
When questions arise about recruiting, Coach Wilson frequently stresses the importance of relationship building, focusing on really getting to know the recruit, beyond what can be discerned from statistics or highlight films. Wilson prefers to get the prospects on campus before accepting their commitment, allowing the athlete to get a better feel for the team and for the team to get a better feel for the athlete. This helps to ensure that the player is a good fit for the culture that Coach Wilson and his staff have so carefully crafted since arriving in Bloomington. The idea behind this is that the recruit is much less likely to flip his commitment as they have made a greater connection with coaches, future teammates, and school.
Another component factoring heavily into the Hoosiers recruiting strategy this season is that the have fewer scholarships at their disposal. With a relatively small senior class, Indiana will likely only be taking 13 to 18 commitments, which allows the Hoosiers to be even more patient when accepting pledges.
Taking a look at Indiana's 2012 recruiting class, which was the first class that was entirely recruited by Coach Wilson and his staff, we see that the Hoosiers did not pick up their first commit until June, which was defensive tackle Alex Todd on the 12th day of the month. Four days later defensive end Nick Mangieri made his verbal commitment the Hoosiers. In all, the Hoosiers picked up eight commits during the month. However, only three, Mangieri, Dan Feeney, and Dawson Fletcher remain with the team. The other five are no longer with the team for a variety of reasons, including injury, transferring, getting kicked off the team, or quitting football altogether. In contrast, the Hoosiers picked up five commits during the month of January, just a few short weeks before signing day. Among them included quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman, offensive lineman Dimitric Camiel, wide receiver Ricky Jones, and the crown jewel of the class, Tevin Coleman. Among them, only Jones has yet to make much on an impact on the gridiron, however, he has had a really strong spring and looks poised to contribute this fall.
Like in 2012, the 2013 class did not see its first commitment until June, when wide receiver Issac Griffith committed on the 11th day of the month. The Hoosiers had to wait nearly another month until they added their second commitment, Patrick Dougherty on July 7th, 2012. This class had a heavy emphasis on defense, including Antonio Allen, Chase Dutra, Rashard Fant, Darius Latham, Clyde Newton, Marcus Oliver, T.J. Simmons, Noel Padmore and Nate Hoff, who was a late add in May after signing day. Much like in the previous class, the Hoosiers biggest additions did not make their decisions on where to attend college until they had begun their senior seasons in high school. This another example of the Indiana recruiting staff doing a good job of adding talented prospects well into a recruiting cycle.
The 2014 class started out much in the same way the previous two did, with the first commitment not coming until June. Defensive tackle Michael Barwick committed to Indiana on the 2nd of June, and just six days later the Hoosiers picked up the pledge of JUCO offensive lineman DeAndre Herron. The Hoosiers added more than half of the class in the final two months before signing day. The first half of the class also contained multiple early contributors, including Donovan Clark, Zander Diamont, J-Shun Harris and Devine Redding, and players who are looking make their presence known this fall, Delroy Baker, Herron, Wes Martin, and Dameon Willis. Among those who were added well into the recruiting cycle include Jordan Fuchs and Tim Gardner in December, Dominique Booth, Tony Fields and Tegray Scales in January, and Simmie Cobbs, Greg Gooch, Robert McCray, Zeke Walker, and Kiante Walton in February. While it is much too early to say how talented this overall class is, I think it is safe to say the Hoosiers once again found talent down the backstretch of the recruiting cycle.
The 2015 class got started off a little sooner than the other three had, as the Hoosiers received their first commitment from offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak on May 3, 2014. Just six days later the Hoosiers picked up a pledge from defensive end Jacob Robinson. Over the next three months the Hoosiers would gain eight more commitments, but would not add another until the middle of December. A big reason for the lull in commitments was that prospects were taking a wait-and-see approach. The Hoosiers were in the midst of a tough season and there was some doubt on the outside as to whether Wilson and his staff would return for another year. However, after it was confirmed that Coach Wilson would indeed be back and had the support of the administration, recruiting began to take-off once again. Over the final eight weeks prior to signing day the Hoosiers added 12 prospects to the 2015 class, not including UAB transfer Jordan Howard and Marqui Hawkins. Just another case of Indiana being patient and waiting to get those athletes that were high on their big board.
While the Hoosiers have yet to pickup their first commitment in the 2016 class, fans can be at ease knowing that this has been pretty much the pattern when it comes to recruiting under Coach Wilson. This coaching staff has excelled by picking up some of their most talented prospects in the waning moments of a recruiting cycle. Due to the Hoosiers having fewer scholarships to work with, Coach Wilson's recruiting track record, and what looks like a potential breakout season for the program, Hoosier fans need not worry about recruiting quite yet.