Before I get to the breakdown of the UAB players visiting Indiana and the chances of them signing on with Kevin Wilson's squad, I want to talk briefly about the end of UAB's football program. Not since University of the Pacific in 1995 has a major NCAA football program folded. These are tragic circumstances for the recruitment of players, but it is the nature of the beast. NCAA sports are big business. If you don't make enough money, chances are that the program in question will be downsized or, as in the case of UAB, cut from the bottom line altogether.
Nameless, faceless administrators, who rarely see the world outside their offices or fundraising events, make all the decisions, no matter how unpopular they may be with the ones who chose to come to a college and give everything they have for the program they believe in. If you want to see how out of touch these administrators are with the passionate players of a now defunct football program, watch this video. On the off chance that any UAB players are reading this piece, I want them to know that I find their passion and dedication to their craft very inspiring and would love to call them a part of Hoosier Nation. Our fans will support you with all we have, and our program isn't going anywhere.
Onto the recruiting!
Per 247Sports and USA Today, Kevin Wilson has targeted two offensive players, RB Jordan Howard and WR Marqui Hawkins. Over the weekend, they made their visits to Bloomington. All UAB players are eligible to transfer and play immediately.
Jordan Howard - RB - 6'1" 228lbs
Howard has the skills to step in right away and be the feature back for the Hoosiers. He just completed a fantastic season which saw him rack up 1587 yards and 13 touchdowns, good enough to be the 7th leading rusher in the FBS. He is easily one of the most sought after players from UAB, making this visit to Bloomington crucial to landing Howard on Indiana's roster. I don't need to waste a lot of space explaining the massive impact Howard would make with the expected loss of Tevin Coleman. The young man from Gardendale, AL, is also expected to weigh offers from Wisconsin, Louisville, Boise State, Vanderbilt, Nevada, and Middle Tennessee State. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
So you're telling me there's a chance?
In all honesty, it doesn't look good for Indiana on paper. Just looking at the above laundry list of suitors for Howard, Indiana doesn't really stand out above the crowd. He could go one of two directions: opt for the brighter lights of a big time football program, or stay the star of a smaller-profile school like UAB. But, the joint visit to Bloomington with fellow Blazer Marqui Hawkins does show that Indiana is seriously in the running. Crazier things have happened...And hot off the Peegs presses, Hawkins confirms that both he and Howard were impressed by Indiana's facilities and would "like to go to the same school." Business has just picked up, folks.
Chances of signing with Indiana: 6/10
Marqui Hawkins - WR - 6'2" 180lbs
Originally recruited and signed with Florida in 2013, he redshirted his freshman year in Gainesville before transferring to UAB in 2014. He sat out another year because of transfer rules, so rust may be an issue. No doubt he has talent, as evidenced by this highlight tape on 247sports. Hawkins could help the Hoosiers on two fronts. First, he could begin playing right away with 3 years of eligibility under his belt, and second, he could be the key to landing Jordan Howard, as they both want to attend the same school. It is also of note that he was a teammate of current Indiana DB Kiante Walton at Columbus Carver HS in Georgia.
So you're telling me there's a chance?
Yes. A very good chance at that. From the above Peegs article, Hawkins seems very interested in becoming a Hoosier. He is untested but could become a serious weapon playing with a chip on his shoulder. I love the Hoosiers' chances here. TCQ will be on top of any developments with these players.
Chances of signing with Indiana: 8/10
Note: Full recruiting board coming this week. I swear it!