Analysis: Class Addresses Perimeter Issues

After a season that saw little playmaking ability on the perimeter, Kevin Wilson made getting playmakers on the outside a focus in this year's recruiting class. Read on to get to know which six newcomers will add an outside presence to the Indiana offense.

After Kevin Wilson’s 2015 recruiting class signed letters of intent on Wednesday, the coach’s focus of the class was clear: athletes.

Where Indiana football was lacking last season was size and speed on the outside, both offensively and defensively.

This year’s class is filled with athletes who have the ability to play on either side of the ball due to their tremendous athleticism and ability to simply make plays in open space.

Here’s what Wilson had to say about the importance of adding these athletes to the team:

“We need some size at the perimeter because sometimes we have guys in position and we’re not big enough to make the play. When you’re there and it’s a good call, we got to make the competitive play. You saw the other night in the Super Bowl a bunch of one-on-one great, competitive plays, and that’s where the game is going. So, we’ve got some athletes that will hopefully be better space, but I think we still struggle in space, our ability to make plays. When our offense has been good, we’ve had some really good space players. When our defense has struggled it’s been a lack of being good in space.”

With the departure of standout wide receivers Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes, the Hoosiers struggled on the outside on offense. Between injuries to seniors Nick Stoner and Isaiah Roundtree, and the true freshmen struggles of Dominique Booth and Simmie Cobbs, Indiana wasn’t able to replace those premiere talents.

This class features six receivers that all have the ability step in and make an impact immediately.

UAB transfer Marqui Hawkins, a sophomore, and JUCO transfer Camion Patrick bring college football experience to the receiver corps, as well as size, as Hawkins is 6-foot-1 and Patrick is 6-foot-2. Wilson had great things to say about the two, even comparing Patrick to Latimer, and he expects them to be playmakers this season.

Hawkins and Patrick will likely go into camp competing for starting jobs. With the struggles from young receivers last season, every spot is completely up for grabs. They both have the size, speed and hands that Wilson was looking for, and they may be the Hoosiers’ top two outside receivers.

Leon Thornton (Ill.) and Nick Westbrook (Fla.) are signees who will bring additional size and athleticism to the outside in order to stretch the field. ranks Thornton the No. 58 receiver in the country and top of the IU class. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Thornton is a threat on the outside. He has multiple aspects to his game, displaying excellent hands, ball skills, speed and run-after-catch ability. The mixture of size and speed is exactly what the offense was missing in 2013.

Then there is Westbrook. Rated a two-star receiver, I think Westbrook is underrated. In 12 games his senior season, he averaged 154.8 yards per game and 23.2 yards per reception and added 19 touchdowns. Westbrook is the definition of a deep threat. He uses his 6-foot-3, 190-pound body to outmuscle defenders and make athletic catches. Westbrook has the potential to be making athletic sideline plays for the Hoosiers.

The final two receivers Wilson signed are the speedsters, Isaac James (Ind.) and Mike Majette (Va.). The pair have the unique ability to play multiple spots on the field, and either one could end up playing defense for Indiana. Wilson said that both James and Majette will be used in a variety of ways during camp, utilizing their ability to play cornerback, returner, tailback, slot receiver or flanker.

James is the top receiver in the state of Indiana. He has tremendous speed, many consider him to be one of the fastest recruits in the country. James played all over the field for Carmel High School, playing quarterback, tailback, receiver, defensive back and returning kicks and punts. At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Wilson will have fun placing James all over the field.

Majette is another high school quarterback who Wilson will move to the receiver position to utilize his tremendous athleticism on the outside. A former Maryland commit, Majette was recruited to play cornerback, however when Wilson told him he would be given the opportunity to play offense for Indiana, Majette decided to commit to the Hoosiers. Majette will likely play mostly in the slot, but at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds he will have the ability to make plays on the outside as well.

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