Indiana inks 21 on National Signing Day 2016

A busy late cycle allowed Indiana to polish off its 2016 recruiting class, which grew to 21 by late Wednesday afternoon.

With a spread offense and a 4-2-5 defense, Indiana will continue to need length and athleticism to successfully execute both. Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson found both of those traits to be common across Indiana's 21 signees in its 2016 recruiting class. 

"Signing Day went reasonbaly well," Wilson said. "A lot of efforts for a long time." 

The National Letters of Intent (NLI) started coming in early, with a pair of Florida prospects - wide receiver Phil Benker and safety Khalil Bryant - being the first to sign with the Hoosiers. 

By 8:15 a.m., the Hoosiers had received about half of the NLIs they were expecting. The action concluded at about 3 p.m. 

Out of the 21 signees Indiana inked for its 2016 class, six are from Ohio, four from Florida, three from Texas, two from Georgia, two from Indiana, one from Illinois, one from Mississippi, one from Maryland and one from New York. 

It's overwhelmingly dominated by out-of-state prospects, which made some sense. Indiana played six of its 13 games - including the New Era Pinstripe Bowl - this past season before a nationally-televised audience on ABC or ESPN, which brought an incredible amount of exposure to the program across the country. 

Wilson shared a story about how a 65-year-old man on his flight from Tampa was able to recall some of the close games Indiana was in as a result of that exposure. While those kinds of stories were nice and the nationwide impact on the recruiting trail was evident, Wilson admitted he would like to do better with in-state recruiting numbers next year.

Lafayette (Ind.) Central Catholic offensive tackle Coy Cronk and running back Kiante Enis were the two in-state signees for the Hoosiers this year. Wilson wants to continue building those in-state relationships, but doing that will require a higher number in the win column.

"I think perception hurts us in-state," Wilson said. "Some local kids still see us as a fall back. We have to win more."

While the lack of in-state players was unintentional, target offensive players was.

Fourteen of Indiana's 21 signees in this class played a position on offense, compared to seven on defense. 

"The last few years, we've really targeted defense so hard, we put a little bit more emphasis on offensive numbers," Wilson said. "We're not trying to be 50-50, but I want to say going into this year we had signed 39 kids the last three years. Like right now, with this class that's 47, and 47 times two is 94, so that's more than half you're recruiting commitments." 

Despite getting a pair of four-star offensive recruits in Cronk and athlete Jonah Morris, who's projected to play wide receiver by the Indiana coaching staff, the class has been ranked by some analysts as the lowest since 2012. 

However, that class produced the likes of quarterback Nate Sudfeld, left tackle Jason Spriggs, right guard Dan Feeney and running back Tevin Coleman. Each of those players developed into players who expect to compete at the next level in the NFL.

Spriggs and Sudfeld are preparing for the NFL Draft right now, while Feeney weighed his options before ultimately deciding to return to school the day of the deadline for underclassmen to declare. Coleman left school a year early and got selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Spriggs, Feeney and Coleman all earned All-America accolades. 

That's why Wilson is disregarding the notion and hoping that history repeats itself with this year's class. 

"Look where 12 started, look where they finished," Wilson said. "Because you've got three All-Americans in that class... there's some really good players that are coming out of really good programs, but there's going to be a lot of development." 


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