There are a couple of things that jump off the page when looking at the 26 players that signed National Letters of Intent Wednesday to play football at Indiana.
The first thing is the Big Ten ranking. IU's recruiting class is ranked eighth in the conference. The last two years the Hoosiers were ninth in the Big Ten.
Big deal you say? Well here's the difference. The last two years Indiana was ranked ninth out of 12 teams in the Big Ten. In this ranking, the Hoosiers are ranked eighth out of 14. In other words, yes there are seven teams ranked ahead of Indiana (though Iowa is barely ahead) but there are also six teams ranked below the Hoosiers.
It's still just the middle of the pack but when you're annually recruiting against the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Nebraska and Iowa, the chances of getting too much higher than eighth are probably not great. You may sneak into the top five once in a while but for the most part if you can be in the sixth, seventh or eighth range in a 14-team Big Ten that is at least respectable.
Another thing was the national ranking. Indiana's class, with 23 commits showing up, was 44th in the nation by Scout.com.
How significant is that number? Consider this: the Scout.com rankings go back to 2002. Since then, a span of 13 years, 44th in the nation represents Indiana's best ranking ever. The second best was last year's class that ranked No. 49. So that's back to back years in the top 50.
It's just a start but I think it's further evidence that Kevin Wilson and his staff have the program moving in the right direction.
Here are a few other observations regarding Wilson's most recent IU class.
**** Indiana added 12 offensive players and 14 defensive players. Of those defenders, IU added six defensive backs, four defensive linemen and four linebackers. Look at the names of the guys who signed Wednesday but who had not been previously committed to the Hoosiers – Each one was on the defensive side of the ball. DB Chris Covington, LB Robert McCray III, DL Derrian Meminger and CB Zeke Walker. Four players all addressing defensive needs. And IU's final commit, on Monday night, was also a defensive player – LB Greg Gooch.
Indiana clearly put on a late minute push on the defensive side of the ball.
**** One third of the class is from Florida or Georgia. That breakdown was five from Georgia and four from Florida. That comes on the heels of the 2013 class that had eight players from those two states. That breakdown was five from Florida and three from Georgia. But it's clearly a trend with 17 players from those two states the last two seasons and the Hoosiers obviously feel like they can pick up some high quality athletes from that region.
**** Six players in the class enrolled at the semester and will participate in Spring football. I think that's a major plus and given that three of them were offensive linemen one would think that extra development can only be a major plus.
You can never really tell how good a recruiting class is until a few years go by and you see how they perform on the field. But the national analysts are obviously taking notice with the rankings being the highest ever and IU football appears to be picking up some good offseason momentum.
It's just a start but it is indeed that much. The Hoosiers are off to a good start for the 2014 season.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch