BLOOMINGTON – Indiana wants difference makers in its football Class of 2017.
Will the Hoosiers deliver with their newest recruiting group, set to be announced Wednesday in the first day of the national signing period?
If you like Florida talent, or if you believe new receivers coach Grant Heard, it looks promising.
The Hoosiers’ 22-player class includes nine from Florida, a state known for producing speed and athleticism.
“I want guys who can score,” Heard said. “I need difference-makers. I want guys with an attitude that they are the best thing out there and no one can stop them. That’s a mindset.
“Receivers come in all different sizes and shapes. I need guys with the mindset that I can’t be stopped.”
IU will bring in two potential freshmen in that category in Tyrese Fryfogle and De’Angelo Philyor, plus Juwan Burgess, who is listed as an athlete, and who could end up on offense or defense depending on need and development.
Burgess is the Hoosiers’ only four-star prospect according to Scout.com, a national Internet recruiting service. He flipped from a commitment to USC — yes, USC — to play for IU. Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Arkansas also offered him.
Heard helped develop a strong group of receivers at Mississippi, and wants to do the same with the Hoosiers, who lose a pair of receiving standouts in Ricky Jones (53 catches, 878 yards, three touchdowns) and Mitchell Paige (58, 646, four TDs).
They do return Nick Westbrook, who had 54 catches for 995 yards this past season, plus Simmie Cobbs, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2015 who missed last season with an ankle injury.
Heard said no receiver has a guaranteed job.
“At Ole Miss, my depth chart was etched in sand. They had to earn it every day. I wanted a room where no one’s job was safe. My vision is make it as competitive as possible. I don’t want anyone to be comfortable. I want them to know that this guy can take my spot. I want to make sure practice is the hardest thing they do all week so the game is fun. They have to show me what they can do.”
Beyond receivers, an intriguing prospect is 6-2, 205-pound quarterback Nick Tronti, who was named Mr. Florida this past season after throwing for 3,328 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also rushed for 650 yards and 19 TDs.
However, Florida, Florida State and Miami didn’t offer him scholarships. Tronti had originally committed to Charlotte. He projects as a two-star prospect on a five-star scale.
While IU head coach Tom Allen brings a defensive mentality to recruiting (11 players in this class are on defense), new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord and new quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson are making recruiting in-roads along with Heard.
“As far as recruiting, I’ve been all in the South,” Heard said. “Places like Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. That’s where my strengths are, but you put me anywhere, and I’ll try to find a guy.”
Added DeBord: “I’ve recruited just about everywhere. The first thing I look at is character. Those are the guys who win for you. Then I want guys who achieve academically. Those are the first two areas I look at. Then comes football talent.”
Experts aren’t impressed with IU’s projected class, at least not by Big Ten standards. The Hoosiers are No. 57 nationally, and No. 13 in the 14-team Big Ten, according to Scout.com. Rivals.com, another national Internet recruiting service, has Indiana at No. 62 nationally, and 13th in the conference.
Ten of the newcomers are on offense, with one on special teams (Australian kicker Haydon Whitehead).
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More InformationIndiana 2017 football recruits
Raheem Layne, CB Florida, 6-1, 195
Nick Tronti, QB Florida 6-2, 203
Craig Nelson, RB Florida 5-10, 180
Juwan Burgess, ATH Florida 5-11, 185
De’Angelo Philyor, WR Florida 5-10, 175
Tyrese Fryfogle, WR Mississippi 6-2, 204
De’Morreal Burnam, LB Georgia 6-3, 218
Mike McGinnis, LB New York 6-2, 235
Haydon Whitehead, K Australia 6-2 187
Juan Harris, DT Wisconsin 6-3, 367
Harry Crider, OL, Columbus, Ind., 6-4, 250
Caleb Jones, OL Indianapolis 6-9, 320
Michael Ziemba, TE Florida 6-3, 250
LaDamion Hunt, DB Georgia 6-1, 171
Peyton Hendershot, TE Lizton, Ind., 6-4, 223
Lance Bryant, DE Texas 6-3, 240
LeShaun Minor, DT Indianapolis 6-3, 290
Tramar Reece, DE Florida 6-3, 216
Thomas Allen, LB Florida, 6-2, 242
Britt Beery, DE Carmel, Ind., 6-7, 240
Bryant Fitzgerald, DB Avon, Ind., 6-0, 200
Tyler Knight, OL Florida, 6-4, 275