The recruiting calendar has already flipped to the class of 2015; however, Kevin Wilson and his staff have not made any major recruiting waves to this point. With the entire summer between us and the start of the college football season (sorry I know that's outrageously depressing, and I'll try not to bring that up again...) I figured we could take a look back at last year's haul.
The 2013 recruiting class was considered by most, myself included, an overwhelming success for the program. It was arguably the most talented group ever brought to Bloomington in a single year to play pigskin. Even more fruitful was that the defense side of the football received a much-needed injection of talent led by 4-star enrollees such as Darius Latham, Antonio Allen and David Kenney.
Unfortunately, the staff was unable to parlay that recruiting success into victories on the field, leading to another holiday season spent at home with family, as opposed to being in a sunny local while practicing an extra 15 times, which they desperately could have used. Worst of all, the recruiting momentum slowed to a snails pace. While the class finished strong, it was certainly not the next step forward that the fan base and staff were hoping for. Over the next week or so I will be breaking down the Hoosiers' 2014 class unit by unit.
I thought we would kick things off in the backfield; quarterbacks included. Settle down former high school signal callers! While many would say that the position should deserve its own breakdown, the fact of the matter is that the Hoosiers brought in just one recruit at the position, and he wasn't even ranked by any of the recruiting services at the time of his commitment. Speaking of which let's start right there...
Alexander Diamont | Venice HS (Los Angeles, CA) |6'2" 175 | 2-Stars | 88th Ranked Pro-Style QB
Not many quarterback prospects that are committed to Big Ten programs can say they are the second most recognizable face in their family, however such is the case for Zander (which he prefers to be called). His father, Don Diamont, is an actor on the soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless'. While Zander may have a few Zoolander-esque male modeling photos floating around the internet, he certainly doesn't fit the stereotype. An unheralded recruit who has grinded his way to recognition by the recruiting services.
When I interviewed Diamont earlier in the process, he seemed to have the passion and grit that are so prevalent in the Big Ten, a trait that so many west coast quarterbacks seem to be missing. He was an early enrollee this year, passing up prom and 70 degree California weather for the single digit temperatures of Bloomington this winter.
Physically he possesses adequate height but will absolutely need to hit the college weight room hard. With a redshirt year likely, a full calendar year in a college weight, conditioning and nutrition program, Diamont should be able to transform his body by the time he can even contemplate contributing on the field.
Zander is very poised in the pocket and he has the athleticism to extend a play when he needs to. He will never be confused with a dual-threat type, but is far from a statue and is fully capable of making a play with his legs when necessary.
However, when breaking down Diamont's passing there are some questions. His release is a tad long and deliberate. He possesses average arm strength at best, something that will hopefully be improved upon based on his work with the strength and conditioning staff.
While he is more than capable of making short throws and screens, and even has decent touch on his deep ball, it is the intermediate throws that worry me. He lacks the ability to fit the ball through a tight window. While he is typically accurate, and completes his passes on the high school level, those gaps will not be there over the middle in the college game. He will need to be able to alter his mid-tier passing game or else he might not make it, and neither will his receivers.
With Tre Roberson and fellow Cali kid Nate Sudfield on campus for a few more years, Diamont will have time to develop and grow. He will likely serve as a depth quarterback for the time being, something that was especially needed after Cam Coffman transferred out of the program. While I believe the staff is intrigued by his potential, I do not think they are by any means putting all their eggs in the Zander Diamont basket as the future for the program.
Tommy Mister | St. Rita (Oak Lawn, IL) | 6'2" 205 | 3-Stars | 28th Ranked Athlete
Tevin Coleman might have a tight grasp on the running back job in 2014, but the depth behind him is something that Hoosier fans should be excited about. In the previous class the staff brought in Laray Smith from New York City, and this year they added a pair of 3-star backs to their collection of rushers in crimson and cream.
The first of which is Tommy Mister who was originally committed to Iowa State.
Mister is a well-built, tallish back that has a somewhat galloping stride to him when he breaks into the open field. He has adequate speed when he hits the second level, and can make the first defender miss; however, he has trouble separating from members of the secondary. He displays quick feet, but is not elusive due to his frame and running style.
What Mister lacks in agility and stop/start capability, he makes up for with good vision and his ability to find a hole and use his straight-line speed and power to break through to daylight. In addition, he is a decisive runner who finds and hits the seam quickly, with the ability to make himself small when necessary.
He has an interesting blend of size and speed which has carried him through high school, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep that balance going through his collegiate career. While he is a taller back, he does not run upright, and lowers his shoulder and uses his power well when pushing through traffic on the line. Mister is a very aggressive runner who does not shy away from contact, but instead relishes in it.
While I believe that Mister has the talent to one day be a major cog in the Hoosier offense, that promise will not be filled right away. Currently there are too many backs in front of him on the depth chart with both the aforementioned Coleman and D'Angelo Roberts as upperclassman returning, and young Laray Smith occupying touches as well. Mister will likely either redshirt or see some work with the special teams unit. This was a very solid grab for Running Backs coach Deland McCullough as he continues to show his value on the recruiting trail.
Devine Redding | Glenville HS (Cleveland, OH) | 5'10" 210 | 3-Stars | 66th Ranked Running Back
Redding is the other rusher the Hoosiers reeled in that coach McCullough was the primary recruiter on during the 2014 cycle. The Buckeye State back transferred from Mineral Ridge to Glenville High School where he could be a part of one of the states top programs run by head coach Teddy Ginn Sr. The youngster camped in Bloomington back in the summer of 2012, and while he did stay in touch with some other BCS level programs, he seemed destined to be a Hoosier from early on.
Devine has a nice strength, size, and speed package for the next level. Don't let his 40-time fool you, as he plays much faster than what he has been clocked at. He is a very sturdy back, who exhibits the ability to break and pull through tackles at his legs. He unfortunately lacks that second gear as a big play threat, but his surge in traffic, coupled with his power makes him difficult to bring down once he gets going.
Like Mister, vision is very integral to Redding's success on the field. He is able to locate creases in the line well, and sets them up with what he sees on the second level. Unlike Mister, he is often an upright runner, however, he has quality foot quickness and agility when you think he is wrapped up. Redding might be best described as a patient runner who follows his blocks beyond the line of scrimmage and doesn't try to fancy things up.
A tough, interior runner who can finish a run and has good balance going through the trenches, will need to develop some route running and ball catching skills if he wants to find a permanent home in the Hoosier offense. Redding will almost assuredly redshirt his first year on campus. This will allow him to develop his game and hone the necessary skills, while molding that naturally thick body in the weight room. Redding is more of a developmental prospect, but a couple of years down the road we could see him being a productive member of the running back stable.