When it comes to recruiting, Kevin Wilson speaks with a bit in his mouth. He has no choice. NCAA rules carry limits and the Indiana football coach isn't about to push past them.
The Hoosiers have two committed players for the Class of 2014 -- defensive tackle Mike Barwick and offensive lineman DeAndre Herron -- and more are on the way. IU could end up signing around 20 by the time everything settles.
Some of those commitments could come from Hoosier camps, which started Tuesday. Prospects include Michigan's Tim Cason, who is rated as the nation's No. 42 cornerback by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, and Hamilton Southeastern's Cameron Polk, rated as the nation's No. 94 receiver and the state of Indiana's eighth-best player.
There's even a familiar name in Jeff George Jr., the son of the former Purdue and Illinois quarterback who also played in the NFL. The younger George has moved to Warren Central after playing his first two years at Indianapolis Brebeuf.
Herron is a 6-4, 325-pound former Avon standout who comes from Iowa Western Community College. He picked the Hoosiers over Louisville, Arizona, Ball State, Georgia State and Middle Tennessee State.
The 6-foot, 291-pound Barwick is rated as the nation's No. 38 defensive tackle. The Cincinnati Summit Country Day High School standout rates as the No. 45 player in Ohio.
Wilson can't say anything about these players. He can, however, talk in recruiting generalities about what he's looking for from the Class of 2014.
“We didn't sign any (offensive) linemen this year, although some of those big guys can always transition to the line, so we'll see how that goes,” he said. “Quarterback, you've got three (on the roster with Tre Roberson, Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld). None of those are seniors, but you go a year without taking one. The O-line. We need a couple of receivers. We going to lose a lot in the secondary. We didn't lose a lot of D-linemen and LBs.”
IU will be a veteran team this coming season dominated by juniors.
“This is a junior team with the best (freshman) class we've ever signed on paper walking in,” Wilson said. “I'm more interested in seeing how these third- and fourth-year players evolve. That will affect recruiting a little bit.”
How good is Indiana's incoming class? It's rated in the top 40 nationally and in the top half of the Big Ten. That's the Hoosiers' best in at least a decade. It includes defensive tackle Darius Latham, defensive end David Kenney, defensive back Rashard Fant and defensive back Antonio Allen. Kenney, Latham and Allen are from Indianapolis, which exemplifies Wilson's in-state push.
“There is great ball in Indiana,” he said. “It gets better every year. The better we do in-state, the better our program will be.”
Wilson landed this class despite a 5-19 record in his first two seasons. But with plenty of returning veterans mixing with talented newcomers, optimism is high IU can get to a bowl game, which would boost recruiting even more.
“There's still a little distrust because we haven't had overwhelming success yet as far as victories,” Wilson said. “We'll be a little more competitive (this coming) season.
“I think this season could be, in our Year 3, that we're in a position to take the next step and get more positive results on the field. The more we do that, the more we're going to get those better players.
“We're battling right now, competing right now. It's a dog fight. Some guys we'll get. Some we won't get.
“It's like those Fort Wayne guys. Some of them you like, they don't like you. Maybe you don't like them. But we'll battle hard in our state again. It was nice to get the guys we got, but now you start back at ground zero.
“We're working hard. We're very competitive in our approach. We don't offer early just to offer. And when we do offer, we don't demand or pressure kids to commit. We want to build relationships and earn trust. We want to earn the right to get good players.”
IU has always targeted Fort Wayne talent, and Wilson has no intention of changing that.
"There's a number of quality players this year," he said. "Several quality programs from Fort Wayne are coming to our team camp. We can't name them, but we're glad to have them.
"Those ninth- and 10th-graders will be there. There are a couple of kids we're after hard. We hope we get them. We need to get them. The best players in Indiana need to play in Bloomington. We're working hard to get those guys."