College football recruiting is weird.
Recruits commit, de-commit, make videos, tweet emojis, whatever. Coaches sleep at players homes and send bad photoshops and make promises they'll maybe kinda fulfill. Grown men tweet at teenagers in hopes of influencing their college decision in favor of their school in a rather-pathetic attempt to derive some future self-worth out of the athletic performance of said teens. It's weird from start to finish, and if you're not following it -- that's fine and you're probably better off.
With that said, Kevin Wilson's quietly making some recruiting noise with his Class of 2016. We're here to catch you up. Here's five things to know about the Hoosiers' newcomers & possible newcomers heading into signing day.
Right now, Indiana has the 11th best recruiting class in the Big Ten.
With 7 days to signing day, Indiana has 17 commits -- good for the 11th best class in the Big Ten ahead of Illinois, Purdue, and Rutgers per the 247Sports Composite. That's impressive, considering the lack of overall volume in the Hoosiers' class. Indiana, so far, just has less players in its 2016 class than other programs. Wilson's 17 commits as of today is the smallest amount of any team in the Big Ten, but isn't necessarily a good or bad thing -- there's still plenty out there for the Hoosiers to scoop up in the next two days and Indiana's taken larger classes in recent years. Now, the program's just in a position to recruit a higher-caliber player than in past seasons. With that, there will be swings-and-misses, sure. But gone are the days of primarly recruiting against MAC programs or being a recruit's only high-major offer. Speaking of that...
Indiana's blowing Purdue out of the water, both in-state and out-of-state.
There's a great argument that offensive tackle Coy Cronk might be Indiana's top recruit. He's a blown up late into a 4-star recruit per some services, such as 247's own ratings. Barton Simmons of that site calls Cronk and Indiana the "best fit" for any recruit and school in the Big Ten and a future NFL player.
Oh, and yeah: Cronk went to high school four miles from Ross-Ade Stadium.
The current gap between Indiana and Purdue's football programs might be reflected best in the in-state recruiting game. Indiana's top in-state prospect is Cronk, rated the 5th best player in the state and one of Indiana's six four-star players per 247's own ratings. The four players ahead of Cronk are headed to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State -- recruiting battles Indiana's going to lose more often than not right now. That's fine. Indiana's recruiting priority has to be outpulling teams that are on a similar ground, not beating the conference bullies. Yet. Kevin Wilson & Greg Frey went in and poached the state's best offensive lineman right out of Purdue's backyard and they're in play for at least one more Top 7 in-state recruit this week to be discussed below. That's impressive.
It's also just more evidence of the sad state of affairs in West Lafayette. While the Hoosiers are possibly set to land two of the state's top seven prospects, Purdue's not even on the map. The Boilers' highest rated player from Indiana in its 2016 class is Coy Cronk's teammate at Lafayette Central Catholic, Jackson Anthrop. Per 247Sports, he is the state of Indiana's 30th-best player. 29 players in the state of Indiana better than Anthrop looked at Purdue football and said "nah fam, I'm good." Twenty. Nine. For context, Miami-Ohio has four players from Indiana in their recruiting class ranked higher than Purdue's best player from Indiana. Ball State has two. Heck, Eastern and Western Michigan have one each.
Oh, and Purdue's hardly making up for it outside the state of Indiana, as they tried to do during the Danny Hope years. Indiana has eight recruits ranked higher in the 247 Composite rankings than any player in Purdue's high school class. In 247's own rankings, Indiana has 15 three-star players in the class. Purdue has five. Good lord, Darrell Hazell.
The Hoosiers have stolen three big recruits from other top programs in the last two weeks.
While a majority of Indiana's class has been committed to the Hoosiers for some time, Kevin Wilson has added five commitments in the last two weeks. The Hoosiers picked up two big gets from other programs that should anchor the class in former Michigan State commit Jonah Morris and former Mizzou commit Mackenzie Nworah. Morris, rated as a four-star athlete by some services out of Akron, is probably the biggest get of Indiana's class. Most assume he'll fit into Indiana's system as a linebacker -- giving the Hoosiers a much needed defensive star. Nworah is a 6-3, 306-lb guard out of Texas and should be able to plug nicely into Indiana's offensive line as a replacement for Dan Feeney in 2017. The Hoosiers also flipped Florida offensive tackle Grayson Stover to the Hoosiers from USF. The 6'6" Stover was also considering Maryland and Virginia. With a successful offense and two All-Americans on the roster, Indiana's seemingly an easy sell to offensive line recruits, and that's reflected in Indiana's current class.
Wilson's also added depth to the class this past weekend -- picking up Georgia TE Shaun Bonner and Chicago-area DE Allen Stallings. Bonner had been previously committed to Georgia Southern, while Stallings was headed to Central Michigan. They're Indiana's only two recruits without at least a three-star rating, per 247Sports.
...but SEC schools are stealing the Hoosiers' defensive line commitments -- and it's getting concerning.
Indiana's choice to add Stallings to the class over the weekend might have been born out of a need for bodies on the defensive line. The Hoosiers' lost 3-star Georgia defensive lineman Chris Henderson late last week, the third time in the last two months that Wilson has lost a Georgia defensive lineman. 3-star Allen Cater was first, opting out of his commitment to the Hoosiers to flirt with North Carolina and Arkansas. 3-star DJ Wonnum was next, flipping to South Carolina shortly after giving his verbal to the Hoosiers.
The attrition's left Wilson and new defensive coordinator Tom Allen scrambling in recent days, extending a number of offers late to players like Stallings and current Central Arkansas commit Dylan Hays just to get enough bodies to bolster Indiana's lackluster defense from last season. It's not just the defensive line, either. Indiana only holds commits from six players in the entire class that project to play defense when they arrive in Bloomington.
Indiana still has a chance to land another big offensive star in the final two days before signing day.
The offensive skill positions shouldn't be an immediate concern for Indiana, but Kevin Wilson's fast-paced offensive machine can always use additional talent. Especially when those talents could become arguably two of Indiana's top three recruits in the entire 2016 class.
Locking down the borders in the backfield has to be important for an Indiana program with an incredible amount of momentum over the last two seasons with the ground game. Most Indiana fans should be familiar with former Michigan commit and Winchester running back Kiante Enis, who's set to announce his new school on Wednesday. One of Jim Harbaugh's early targets was vocal that his scholarship wasn't pulled, but rather wants to play closer to his eastern Indiana home. The Hoosiers are the odds-on 247 Crystal Ball favorite, but Michigan State and "hometown" Miami (OH) and Ball State are also involved.
Signing Day begins February 3rd. If you'd like to view Indiana's full class to date, click here.
NOTE: 247Sports features two ranking systems, the 247 Composite & the Top 247. The 247 Composite aggregates the average star rating across all services, while the Top 247 uses the site's own rankings.