Forget rankings, IU recruited for right fit Hoosiers sign 23 for Class of 2017.
Tom Allen got his guys.
Well, like every football coach in America, he thinks he did.
For now, with a 23-player class signed to Indiana, that’s enough.
“We wanted to get guys who fit here, get guys who are tough, who are willing to compete,” Allen said during Wednesday’s signing day press conference. “That’s the mantra I tell our coaches.
“I like our length and size. Big Ten starts with word ‘big.’ We want guys who can play and run and be physical. This class has all those attributes that we believe will be the catalysts to help us break through.”
Allen delivered on his first recruiting class as the Hoosiers head coach with this thought:
“It’s not the guys you miss on that hurt you,” he said, “it’s the ones you take that you shouldn’t. Make sure you get the right ones.”
On Wednesday, that meant Florida Mr. Football Nick Tronti, a dual-threat quarterback with a knack for rising to the biggest challenges. It meant Florida defensive back Juwan Burgess, who flipped from a commitment to traditional football superpower USC to become a Hoosier. It meant junior college All-America Mike McGinnis out of New York. It meant a pair of 370-pound linemen, Wisconsin’s Juan Harris for the defense and Indianapolis Lawrence North’s Caleb Jones on offense.
It even meant Allen’s son, Thomas, a linebacker out of Florida who is enrolled for the second semester. The reason this father-son dynamic should work starts with a mantra that could have come out of Las Vegas:
What happens in football, stays in football.
“He’s not going to run and tell mom,” Allen said with a smile.
Overall IU got nine players from Florida, six from Indiana and a punter from Australia. It got 12 players on defense and nine on offense, plus special teams. It targeted its biggest needs in linebackers, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, big receivers, running backs and defensive backs.
Allen said this class addressed three key areas:
“No. 1, we got got men who fit IU — tough kids who care about school and want to compete.
“No. 2, we got a lot of big bodies, big guys who can move. We had an emphasis to get length and size to allow ourselves be in a better position to compete against Big Ten teams. This class allows us to do that.
“No. 3, we wanted guys who are very versatile. Guys who can play a lot of positions.”
IU’s class ranked 13th in the Big Ten, ahead of only Purdue. It’s basically a top-60 class nationally.
Allen said he didn’t care.
“It doesn’t bother me. Who makes the ratings? It’s not coaches.
“When I went through this, I didn’t know how many stars some of these guys had. I told my coaches, don’t look at stars and who is recruiting them. Watch the film and trust your evaluation.
“Of course we want the best players. It takes a disciplined coach to say, I like this guy and I don’t care if somebody else doesn’t like him. Trust your evaluation. If you think he’s a good player, go for him. You’ve got to get guys who fit your program.”
Allen said IU lost only one commitment during the transition from former coach Kevin Wilson, and the loss of offensive line coach Greg Frey to Michigan.
“That’s rare in this situation. It was due to the work ethic of our coaches. We had the class sealed in an hour and a half. They were committed to us. We still had to fight for them. They key was relationships. They were built a long time ago.”
Allen, and Wilson before him, were proactive by staff recruiting.
“In this profession, guys get other jobs,” Allen said. “That’s why it’s better to staff recruit. It takes more time, but then (recruits) know everybody. If someone leaves, it’s not like, the only guy I know is gone, I’ll look elsewhere.”
Through it all, Allen said, there’s one key to overall success.
“If you are dishonest with them and get them here and don’t do what you said you’d do, they won’t trust you. If you don’t have trust, you have nothing.” <br>
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