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Indiana football early signing period primer: What to know if you haven’t been paying attention

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A 4-star quarterback might pick Indiana over Florida State! Reese Taylor! SECURE THE BAG AND LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NEW BIGGEST DAY IN FOOTBALL ‘CROOTIN.

QB Mike Penix could be a big pickup for the Hoosiers in the early period.
Student Sports

You get The Bag and fumble it. Indiana gets the bag and flips it, and tumbles it. Please punch me in the face for this lede, for it’s CROOTIN SEASON.

College football’s new early signing period opens tomorow. Since we’re in the depths of basketball season, this is Indiana, and no one really cares to follow football recruiting until usually a week or so before spring National Signing Day, here’s all the stuff that you need to know — distilled to a very basic FAQ so we can all get back to stupidly litigating CREAN v. ARCHIE on the internet, posthaste.

Without further ado, your stupid questions about this Indiana football recruiting class, answered.

Wait, I thought National Signing Day wasn’t until February?

Yes, you’re right! This is a new week-long signing period, much as all the other sports have had for some time.

Ah, so having to deeply care about the decisions of teens this early in the year is new?

Yuuuuuuuuup. Probably has something to do with the wild-wild world of college football recruiting being totally unhinged with decommits, greyshirts, non-commitables, and all kinds of other weird jargon. The sooner this stuff ends, the better for all involved, to be honest.

So, uh, is this class good?

Yeah, for Indiana — it’s pretty fine class! Nothing to hail as transformative, but a solid, good recruiting class. Right now, it stands at 21 commitments -- some or all of which may sign in this period. It’s good for 10th in the Big Ten right now, and might get a little better in the immediate future. It’s good enough for 42nd nationally, which is to say the DiNardo and Lynch days of dumpster-diving to snipe two-star players from Bowling Green and Central Michigan are, thankfully, long gone.

One problem, though: Indiana’s bringing up the rear of the Big Ten East. The conference’s best five classes are Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Maryland (!), and Michigan State in that order. Rutgers is 8th in the conference, mainly buoyed by the recent commit for 4-star Miami decommit quarterback Artur Sitkowski.

Still, pretty good.

Is there a star of the class?

Sure there’s a couple! Ronnie Walker’s a 4-star running back out of Virginia that Mike Hart nabbed out from under Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Michigan State, among others. At the time he committed to Tom Allen, he was the highest-rated out-of-state recruit set to play for the Hoosiers in nearly 18 years. His recruiting ratings have dropped off just a touch from a solid four-star to a fringe three-four across all three sites, but he’d still be a top-10 recruit ever for the Hoosiers in the 247 era — better than other backs such as Darius Willis & Tevin Coleman. That’s pretty good news.

Oh, and yeah — there’s, you know, Indiana’s Mr. Football right behind him. At just 5-10, there’s justifiable concern on whether or not Reese Taylor can translate to a quarterback at the collegiate level. It’s seeming more and more like Allen & Co. will give Taylor a crack at calling the offensive shots rather than moving to cornerback as first intended.

Well, most likely. Which leads right into your next question, probably.

Are there any other big time decisions coming in this signing period?

Glad you asked!

Whether you’re a Peyton Ramsey fan or not, Indiana’s quarterback room has big problems heading into 2018. With Austin King’s transfer ahead of the 2017 season, Ramsey & Nick Tronti will be the only scholarship players recruited to Indiana as quarterbacks on the depth chart. You can probably add Taylor to that room too, considering the depth issues.

But, perhaps, there’s another really good option on the way — and he’s got a pedigree that could have him seeing the field in Bloomington sooner rather than later. Mike Penix, a top-20 pro style quarterback out of Tampa, was cut loose by the new Tennessee staff & Jeremy Pruitt a couple of weeks ago. Tom Allen, Nick Sheridan & Mike DeBord, Grant Heart, and Mike Hard swept in instantly with a 5-person in-home visit in a matter of days down in Allen’s old stomping grounds around USF. Only problem? So did new Florida State head coach Willie Taggart and Charlie Strong at USF.

There’s good reason why Indiana’s interested, as are other top programs. We could dive into the tape below, or I can toss out this number. 31 touchdowns, 1 interception. Those were Penix’s passing splits this past senior season at Tampa Tech. That’s good!

The fringe 4-star quarterback would instantly become Indiana’s most acclaimed signal caller on the roster, pretty much on par with Nate Sudfeld as the program’s top quarterback recruit in the crooting-site era.

Penix will choose between Indiana, Florida State, and USF on Wednesday afternoon at 1pm. There’s scuttle around the FSU program that Penix would be a depth play for Taggart, and could still end up on the outside looking in come springtime as his offer may not be a “take” at this time. (That’s CROOTIN for it’s an offer that isn’t really acceptable until FSU swings & misses on another QB recruit or two.) Long and short of it, there’s a reason all the hot money’s trending toward Bloomington on the 247 Crystal Ball if he’s going to commit in the early period. Count on him as Hoosier, if we’re betting.

So who’s actually going to be signing as part of this period?

Glad you asked! It’s hard to tell exactly, as this all used to be pretty formulaic when it was a one-day event. But we’ll post the signed players here as they roll in.

Does Indiana have a Bag Man?

Probably not (for football, at least.) But Tom Allen & Grant Heard worked for Hugh Freeze, where they likely acquired outside knowledge of Bag Securing protocols. What I’m saying is Indiana should hire Hugh Freeze as offensive coordinator. If you do believe that Indiana has a bag man, please email compliance@olemiss.com. Otherwise do not slander these young men and their families. Yes, this is a reference to a thing, and if it’s missing you, sorry, it’s late, and, well-

[deep breath]

WHAT WE’RE SAYING IS, IF YOU’RE INDIANA’S BAG MAN*, AND YOU’RE READING THIS, YOU’RE LOVED. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. AND NEW YEAR. DON’T EVER HESITATE TO CALL. US. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU. WE CAN ALWAYS TALK. DON’T DO ANYTHING RASH.

*Indiana’s bag man does in fact deliver Bags, but they’re merely full of Frisco Melts.

**This is still an NCAA Violation, by the way.

****As always, Crimson Quarry is always Pro-Bag. Whenever possible, recruits should be provided The Bag as part of a informal verbal transaction in exchange for their attendance at Indiana University. You, a small-brained fool, say this is cheating. Me, enlightened, woke, and staring at Eric Dickerson’s comically gold Trans-Am, say this is a prudent way for athletes to be paid fair-market value for destroying their brains for our enjoyment.