In recruiting, we've become well attuned to little blips and aberrations from the mean. Sometimes, a personal connection between a recruit and a coaching staff will set off a chain reaction that results in top-20 class for a school that has no business being there. Sometimes, the momentum of a staff change will do all kinds of wacky things, depending on the skill of the new staff. Sometimes, an unusually strong year on the field will translate to all kinds of recruiting accolades. Regardless of the reason, it's normally a very brief blip- Ole Miss just isn't gonna land four 5* prospects every year. Plenty of people viewed the 2013 Indiana recruiting class in the same light- a very bright and brief blip to places that Indiana isn't supposed to be. So the question becomes, does the 2014 class stack up?
At first glance, it seems to lack the star power of 2013. The only player who garners a 4* 247Composite Rating is former Tennessee commit Dominique Booth. The hometown kid decommited from Tennessee in early December, allegedly after some snags got in the way of him enrolling early. The break up was an uncommonly graceful one for college football fans losing a 4* WR nowadays, as sad as that is. With the Hoosiers losing 3 of their top 4 targets in the passing game, there's plenty of room for Booth to get into the rotation early, especially since he was able to take part in Spring Ball.
However, while the star power might not be as evident, there is an uncommon amount of depth to this class. Scrolling through the composite 3*s, one finds plenty of potential impact players on both sides of the ball. The offensive line was boosted through the addition of two players most people expected to be playing for Ohio State and Florida right now. The first is Tim Gardner, a 2013 signee of the Buckeyes, who was released from his scholarship after getting charged with.."obstruction of official business". After finishing out the year at the Milford Academy in New York, Gardner signed for the Hoosiers.
The second is Delroy Baker, a Florida kid that 9 out of 10 247 recruitniks had destined to end up in Gainesville. The athletic Tackle looks to have some potential on the blindside, and will definitely be one heck of a road grader. The Sunshine State boy enrolled early and will look to make his way into the two deep, but will probably end up with a redshirt.
Another name to pop up again in this series is TE Jordan Fuchs, the former Rutgers commit. We discussed him last week in reference to how badly the Rutgers' coaching staff messed up his recruitment- however, he's quite the prospect in his own right. The 6'6 tank has college ready size, and seems like he has the requisite athleticism. After all, he was also recruited to play basketball for the likes of Florida, SMU and Xavier. Is this the CFB equivalent of a Jimmy Graham situation? Only time will tell, but I'll be keeping a close eye on Fuchs' career.
Of note- Indiana just recently added Danny Cameron to this 2014 class. While he was an unheralded recruit, you might know Cameron because of his dad- LSU OC Cam Cameron.
The offensive side of the ball didn't keep a lock on these underrated 3* types, however. Plenty of Indiana fans will tell you the headliner of this class is actually LB Tegray Scales, a Colerain product with spectacular upside. Scales ended up selecting Indiana over Louisville, Minnesota, and a brief flirtation with Oklahoma. Although a bit undersized at the moment, Scales brings exceptional athleticism, quality pass rushing skills and a pedigree as a championship wrestler. From Indiana DC Brian Knorr...
"Tegray Scales has tremendous body control, very very athletic. By far probably the most athletic linebacker that we'll bring in this year. He is one of the top wrestlers in the state of Ohio. He'll come in, has great control of the body. Tremendous pass rusher, very exciting and dynamic. Looking for big things out of Tegray."
Another late addition to the class was Nile Sykes, a former Notre Dame signee who changed his mind in the recent weeks. I've read some Indiana bloggers asserting that Sykes is Scales+. Personally, I prefer Scales' upside, but the bottom line is that both are monumentally talented players that should see the field relatively early in Indiana's 3-4 scheme.
On the defensive line, Indiana picked up another Ohioan who looks to be a strong contributor in NT Michael Barwick. While he's not a flashy athlete, he plays with pretty good leverage for the high school level. With his build, he looks like he could end up one of the better nose tackles in the B1G by the time his career is up.
It's also become time that we look at any DB offered by Michigan State/Narduzzi with special interest. That's one of the reasons I'm so intrigued by FL DB Will Dawkins, an athlete that played a lot of QB/WR in High School but figures to switch over in college. He's a physical kid with good range, who I think stands a chance to factor into the rotation early on in his career.
All in all, this is a class that's not going to attract the same star-studded headlines as the 2013 group did, but might be deeper as a whole. Signing two top-40 classes in consecutive years is something that hasn't been done in the modern era of recruiting at Indiana- it's clear that Wilson has this program in the right direction. So long as his staff can successfully continue to field such impressive talent and develop them to their full potential, Indiana is certainly a dangerous team to keep an eye on in the future.