IU Coaches Confident As Signing Day Nears

In a matter of hours National Signing Day will be here and the Indiana coaching staff is anxious for its arrival. Coach Kevin Wilson pulled together a diverse group of assistants to help guide his team and immediately gave them marching orders to get to work to avoid a 'Groundhog Day' type feeling next season. Their recruiting backgrounds appear to be paying off already.

In a matter of hours National Signing Day will be here and the Indiana coaching staff is anxious for its arrival. Coach Kevin Wilson pulled together a diverse group of assistants to help guide his team and immediately gave them marching orders to get to work to avoid a 'Groundhog Day' type feeling next season. Their recruiting backgrounds appear to be paying immediate dividends for IU.

"It's actually been pretty hectic," said new Hoosier co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith. "As soon as you arrive here you pick up your recruiting clothes and your bag and you get going."

Smith arrived from Ann Arbor shortly after the Wolverines' bowl game, where he was also the quarterbacks coach. Upon arriving it was time to work as hard as possible to make this Wednesday a success.

"You try to scramble and solidify and finish up the class that was already started here," said Smith. "You're trying to keep the kids that are already committed in the stable so to speak. Then you start evaluating and adding to it. You use your connections, use your contacts, and whatever you have to try to add to the class."

For Smith that has meant a good deal of time spent in the state of Florida. The former Glenville State quarterback spent the better part of six years at South Florida as the Bulls quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. That helped him develop some real roots in the area that have come in handy in the last few weeks. Along with the efforts of offensive line coach Greg Frey, who played at Florida State and also spent considerable time on the Bulls' coaching staff, the Hoosiers have some newfound pull in the talent-rich Sunshine State.

"I've had quite a bit of experience in the state of Florida and a couple of guys on our staff are the same," said Smith. "So I basically recruit the entire state. I had five or six years down at South Florida obviously and continued to recruit in the state when I was at West Virginia and Michigan. I have some ties there that are pretty strong, so that will definitely be an area that we will dip into."

Their efforts have already paid off as the Hoosiers have pulled three commitments from the state of Florida in the past week. In addition to 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman Gregory Lewis from Hollywood (FL), the Hoosiers also secured the commitments of 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive end Adarius Rayner of Largo and 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive tackle Bobby Richardson of Tampa. That's a lot of beef heading up I-65 this summer and what appeals to the IU staff is how quickly it moves.

"We want to be up-tempo and play fast on both sides of the ball," said Smith. "That's definitely our philosophy."

The Hoosiers will also be looking more to the state of Louisiana in the years to come as defensive coordinator Doug Mallory, cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond, and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler have all spent significant time in the state thanks to their days at LSU. Their efforts have already produced what most recruiting services are calling a steal in cornerback Michael Hunter, a three-star player that was often overshadowed playing in the talent-rich 5A division in Louisiana.

While the pipelines to Florida and Louisiana are already bearing fruit, don't expect the new guys to neglect their own turf. Most of the staff has extensive experience recruiting the Midwest and Coach Wilson has already made it abundantly clear that he plans to build on the Hoosiers growing in-state success in recent seasons.

"I know for a fact he wants us to recruit the state of Indiana and around Indianapolis and the surrounding areas," said Smith. "That's going to be our home base and we want to make sure we take care of that first. But I'm also excited to see where else we can extend ourselves to and spread the name of Indiana."

With just hours and not days left until it's time for players to sign their name on the dotted line, most of the staff's work is done for this recruiting season. There will still be some tension as the letters-of-intent start to roll in tomorrow morning as there always is, but the IU staff seems confident that their efforts have paid off.

"We feel good," says Smith. "We came in, we identified some guys, obviously we can't talk about them until after Signing Day, but we've done some things we feel really good about. Our class is pretty strong so we're excited and can't wait to see how it unfolds on Signing Day."

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