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A closer look at Indiana's 2016 signees from National Signing Day

A look at the 21 players who signed National Letters of Intent with Indiana on Wednesday, with comments on each player from their respective position coaches.

National Signing Day 2016 went by fast, and there were a couple of surprises. Read on for detailed break downs of each Indiana signee: 

Marcelino Ball, Defensive Back, Roswell HS (Roswell, Ga.)

Indiana gained a commitment from Ball the day of National Signing Day. His older brother, Marcus, plays defensive back for the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Another older brother, Reggie, Jr., played quarterabck for Georgia Tech from 2003-06. His other older brother, Raeshon, played defensive back for UT Chattanooga from 2006-2008. Marcelino was an all-state honorable mention at Roswell who recorded 132 tackles, three interceptions, one fumble recovery and one defensive touchdown as a senior. Scout ranked Marcelino as the No. 5 safety in the state of Georgia and No. 30 in the South. 

"He comes from a great stock. All of his brothers have all played at really high levels, so football has been a part of his life for a long time. He goes to a program that has been successful for years... when you watch his film, he does a lot of different things in a lot of different positions. He'll be playing safety, linebacker, d-end, and the one thing that stands out is he makes plays... really excited about that young man." - IU co-defensive backs coach Brandon Shelby

Phil Benker, Wide Receiver, Sandalwood HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Originally a Central Florida commit very early in the spring cycle, Benker flipped his verbal pledge from UCF to Indiana on June 22. The Hoosiers gained a verbal commitment from a player who possesses strength and speed. Benker runs a 4.55 40 and can bench 280 pounds, with a 405-pound squat. He verbally committed to the Hoosiers over Wake Forest and South Florida, among others. Sandalwood's all-time leading receiver, he posted 104 catches for 1,914 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. 

"We talk about being bigger, and longer, and thicker, and that's what we're trying to recruit. Phil certainly fits that for us. Had a chance to go out and evaluate him early in the spring time, really enjoyed what I saw, liked what I saw, extended an offer. He was able to come up in the summer time and work out with our players, and he liked what he saw. So we were able to commit and really get this thing done in the summer time and he's been locked in with us since then... he fits the size and speed combination that we want. Tremendous route runner, very strong hands. Excited about what he's going to do." IU co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Kevin Johns

Shaun Bonner, Tight End, Colquitt County HS (Moultrie, Ga.)

Bonner was also a late addition by the Indiana coaching staff in this cycle. The 6-foor-3, 240-pound tight end excelled as a receiver and run blocker for Colquitt County, as he would sometimes be lined up at fullback, on the edge of the offensive line or out wide like a receiver. Bonner was courted by Georgia Southern but opted to verbally committed to Indiana instead on Jan. 31. 

"Shaun's a big, athletic, strong, physical (player) who's going to bring a nice physical presence to our position group. He's got great hands, unbelievable hands. He's made a couple of one-handed catches on his tape. He does a lot of things we do on our offense at the tight end position... great kid, got a great physical presence to him. Just really excited about how he's got great hands, catches the ball, and runs well." - IU tight ends coach James Patton

Khalil Bryant, Safety, First Coast HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)

With his verbal commitment on June 22 last year, Bryant became the third member of Indiana's 2016 recruiting class. Bryant is a physical safety who can defend the run and the pass. His ability to do so successfully can be attributed to his speed, as he runs a 4.63 40. The 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back verbally committed to Indiana over offers from North Carolina, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky, Army and Kent State. Scout ranked Bryant as the No. 16 safety in the state of Florida. 

"High-character kid, can run, change direction, is physical and will hit you. He's just a good football player that, when the ball is in the air, he makes plays. We've been lucky enough because we have some different lengths and things like that that we've been able to take a shorter kid who has a lot of the physical attributes that we're looking for." - IU co-defensive backs coach Noah Joseph

Coy Cronk, Offensive Tackle, Lafayette Central Catholic Jr/Sr HS (Lafayette, Ind.)

The other Scout 300 pickup by the Hoosiers in this cycle, Cronk was essentially recruited in rival Purdue's backyard. The four-star offensivel lineman played offensive tackle for Central Catholic and was a major presence on that line at 6-foot-5 and 279 pounds. Cronk committed to the Hoosiers early in the cycle back on Dec. 14, giving a verbal to the Hoosiers over offers from Vanderbilt and Illinois, among others. When he tweeted his verbal pledge, he said he was excited to play for his home state and earn a "world-class education" alongside "great coaches" and "great teammates." Like Morris, he played on both sides of the ball on the offensive line and as a linebacker.

"Coy reminds me a lot of what we saw in Jason (Spriggs), what we saw in Dan (Feeney). He's athletic, he bends well, he's a catcher - he's probably one of the top catching prospects probably out there. Physical kid, finishes plays, played for a state champion (so he) has a high expectation. High competitive side... yeah, he played one year of o-line but that really doesn't matter. We're going to teach him what he needs to know. His competitiveness, the way he attacks, the way he develops, what he wants out of this is what we were really attracted to and we think we found that in him." - IU co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Greg Frey

Brandon Drayton, Safety, Largo HS (Largo, Fla.)

A late addition in this cycle by the Indiana coaching staff, Drayton verbally committed to Indiana on Jan. 27. Just two months earlier, he had taken an official visit to Nebraska and given the Cornhuskers a verbal commitment the next day (Nov. 28). Nebraska's loss was Indiana's verbal gain, as the Hoosiers got a verbal pledge from an athletic Florida safety in Drayton. At Largo, Drayton spent time on both sides of the ball, playing safety and wide receiver. Drayton played at the same high school as current Hoosier Jonathan Crawford. He's rated as the 17th-best safety in the state of Florida by Scout. 

"He's very similar to Jonathan, and that's what we liked about him... another long kid that played both wide receiver and defensive back so he's got good ball skills and will also cover ground and strike you." - Joseph

Kiante Enis, Athlete/Running Back, Winchester Community High School (Winchester, Ind.)

Enis was a very late addition and somewhat of a surprise add. After committing to Michigan, he decided he wanted to play closer to home and subsequently decommitted. Eventually, he narrowed his final college choices down to Indiana and Miami (Ohio), selecting the Hoosiers on National Signing Day. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound back was a great addition for Indiana, who won him over offers from Michigan State, Iowa and Mizzou among others. He runs a 4.45 40, speediness which alllwed him to rush for 2,393 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015. 

"He brings great athleticism. Tremendous speed, great ball skills. He's somebody who can do a bunch of different things to help our offense. I'm excited to get him in our system and just develop him. I know when we spoke, he said he wanted to get better at pass protection, so he was already identifying some things as he looks at himself. I just want to get him to really embrace being a big, strong, fast kid. And he's excited about that, and we spoke about that last night. He put up video game numbers in high school, so that's something we're looking forward to as well. This guy was putting it up, so we're excited to have him for sure." - IU running backs coach Deland McCullough

Cole Gest, Running Back, St. Edward HS (Lakewood, Ohio)

Gest verbally committed to Indiana during the summer cycle and brings speed to the Hoosier running back room. His most impressive performance this season was a 210-yard and two-touchrushing rushing effort against Mentor in the Ohio high school playoffs. He runs a 4.53 40 but has been hand-clocked much faster, as he recorded a 4.39 40 at Cleveland's Raw Talent Sports Combine in February 2015. He verbally committed to the Hoosiers after performing at their camp, choosing them over offers from Toledo and Ohio. He rushed for 2,097 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior. 

"Very excited about Cole. Been on him for a couple of years. Tremendous program that he played in. I mean, he beat out a kid a couple years ago who went to Michigan State as a running back. That kid didn't even start as a senior because of Cole. He came to camp, ran a 4.3 a couple times, showed he can do a lot of things. He's got a big, big chip on his shoulder and that's something I want is a guy that's hungry and wants to beat the odds. We're excited to have him, (he's a) workout freak, he's going to come in and pay dividends for us big time." - McCullough

Jerome Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Bassfield HS (Bassfield, Miss.)

Looking to get a quality interior defensive lineman for the 2016 class, Indiana found just that late in the cycle in Johnson. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle chose the Hoosiers over offers from Louisville and Ole Miss, among others. As a senior at Bassfield, he finished with 88 tackles, eight sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Scout ranked the three-star prospect as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the state of Mississippi and No. 29 in the South. 

"Jerome's a big kid. Obviously when we talked about our need to replace some of the size that we lost inside with Adarius Rayner and Darius Latham, he was a young man that we found late, to be quite honest. But he is one of the best players down in the state of Mississippi. When you look at his stats, the other big thing about him is that he's a winner. He comes from a team that has won four state championships. So you can never undervalue the value of winning. So he's going to be a young man that's used to winning, coming from a competitive program, he played in a couple of all-star games down there and he's a big-time player coming out of there. He gives us the size that we need on the inside." - IU defensive line coach Larry McDaniel

Richard Lagow, Quarterback, Cisco Community College (Cisco, Texas)

The top-rated pro-style JuCo quarterback, Lagow chose Indiana over offers from Colorado State and UNLV. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Plano, Texas native threw for 2,285 yards and 10 touchdowns last year for Cisco, completing 66 percent of his passes. While Johns said the QB competition will be open, Lagow has the size and build of someone who was recruited to be the ideal replacement for Nate Sudfeld. 

"He does fit exactly what Nate Sudfeld brought to our team. Has a very strong arm. He's going to have the body type that can withstands the hits that he's going to take. Very smart guy. Plays in a spread offense, so understands what we're going to try to do with our tempo and our spread system here. Really think the sky is the limit for him. Thrilled to have him, and now I'm excited to get working with him and get him caught up to speed." Johns

Taysir Mack, Wide Receiver, Grand Street HS (Brooklyn, New York)

Mack sent his letter of intent within minutes of Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson finishing his signing day press conference. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound receiver chose the Hoosiers over offers from Penn State, Syracuse and Vanderbilt, among others. Scout ranked Mack as the top receiver in the state of New York. 

"Special kid, special talent. We're excited. We think he will fit in well." - Johns

Jonah Morris, Athlete, Archbishop Hoban HS (Akron, Ohio)

One of two Scout 300 players to give the Hoosiers a verbal commitment this cycle, Morris is an explosive four-star athlete who played defensive back and receiver for Hoban. By the end of the season, he was ranked No. 228 in the 2016 Scout 300 rankings. Morris was a former Michigan State commit who also had intrested from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Akron, Kent State, Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio). When Morris tweeted his verbal commitment to the Hoosiers, he said he felt he found a school that would allow him to achieve his ultimate dream of making it to the NFL and earning a great degree. Morris stands 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds with a 4.4 40 time. 

"There's no doubt, he's the real deal. He's listed as an athlete because there's so many things he can do, he's going to play wide receiver for us. And really, when you talk about him, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound receiver that can run, that's a scary mismatch on the perimeter for a lot of corners. This kid's big time. He got a lot of accolades, had offers from all over the country. Fell in love with what we do offensively and with our players. I just think the sky's the limit for him. I think he's going to continue to get stronger, more physical, all those things, but I think he's going to be a special guy that hopefully can start early for us." - Johns

Tyler Natee, Athlete, Trinity HS (Euless, Texas)

Natee is a diverse athlete at Euless Trinity in Texas who committed to Indiana during this cycle. At Trinity, he did a little bit of everything playing running back, fullback, quarterback and linebacker. He runs a 4.8 40 but his punishing running style made him a force on the field. At six feet and 235 pounds, Natee is built more like a linebacker. However, he was primariliy recruited by Indiana running backs coach Deland McCullough and tight ends/fullbacks coach James Patton. When you take into consideration that he mostly played offensive positions, he would likely end up on that side of the ball. Natee verbally committed to Indiana over Arkansas State. Scout ranked Natee as the No. 10 athlete in the state of Texas. 

"He's going to multiple roles for us in our offense. And just to see a man at his size play quarterback - I had seen him on tape, but when I saw him in person I was just amazed with that. Handles himself very well, very mature young man. I'm excited to have him here as well." - McCullough

Mackenzie Nworah, Offensive Guard, Manvel HS (Manvel, Texas)

Nworah was a late add to the 2016 class, as he give his verbal commitment to Indiana on Jan. 20 over offers from Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Mizzou among others. According to our G. Brooks, Nworah excels in pass protection due to his good lateral agility and solid technique. Brooks also cited him being long-armed, especially for an interior lineman. Scout.com rated the 6-foot-3, 306-pound Nworah as the seventh-best offensive guard in Texas and 36th-best in the nation. 

"He's very thorough in everything he does, whether it be playing o-line. He was limited. He went to Manvel High School, which is a powerhouse down there, and really he was going to be playing basketball. And they pulled him out of the gym, and he fell in love with football. He started playing as a freshman. Very mobile, finishes blocks, gets out there, cares a lot, great teammate. He's an international guy. His family, his dad has lineage going back to Nigeria. Just a lot of interesting, great things about him. You've got Coy who's a very good athlete, you've got Mackenzie who's a very good athlete. Both of them are physical players, and that's really what we're looking for. They're our kind of guys, and that's what we base our recruiting on." - Frey

Peyton Ramsey, Quarterback, Elder HS (Cincinnati, Ohio) 

A dual-threat quarterback for one of the top high school football programs in Ohio, Ramsey was the first verbal commitment in the Hoosiers' 2016 class. He gave them his verbal pledge on April 21 during the spring cycle last year and hasn't wavered. He had offers from Boston College, Illinois, Wake Forest and West Virginia, among others. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Ramsey ran a 4.85 40 and showed the ability to make timely throws in the pocket or scramble when necessary. Scout rates Ramsey as the fourth-best quarterback in Ohio, eighth-best in Midwest and 44th-best nationally. He played for head coach and father Doug Ramsey at Elder. 

"As college coaches, you always want to recruit kids who are coaches' kids, just because they tend to understand what it takes from a work ethic standpoint, from a football intelligence, and Peyton has all those things. He really has the intangibles ,which is what drew him to us. He's a winner, he's a tremendous leader, he works extremely hard. Great athlete, can make plays with his feet, strong arm and he's a winner... we're excited about what he can bring." - Johns

A'Shon Riggins, Cornerback, Hamilton HS (Hamilton, Ohio)

Riggins verbally committed to Indiana two days before Gest in the same summer cycle. Ranked as the No. 2 corner in the state of Ohio, Riggins brings speed to the Indiana secondary with a 4.60 40. He also gives Indiana more athleticism to an already athletic secondary, as he's played quarterback and wide receiver as well. Scout Ohio Recruiting Analyst Dave Berk notes that the 40 time doesn't make him the fastest, but his quick feet and quick burst give him great football speed. Riggins verbally committed to Indiana over offers from Iowa, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, among others.

"You don't see a lot of offensive things, but his coach did a great job of getting the ball in his hands. Your eyes are not deceiving you, he's definitely going to be a real great corner for us. Runs real well... really excited about him as well." - Shelby

Ryan Smith, Defensive Tackle, Moeller HS (Loveland, Ohio) 

Smith brought size to Moeller's interiorer defensive line at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. He was offered by Indiana after attending camp and soon after gave his verbal commitment to the Hoosiers on June 9, 2015. The verbal pledge from Moeller made him the second member of Indiana's 2016 class. Frey projects Smith to be an interior lineman (guard or center) for the Hoosiers. 

"He got slowed a little bit his senior year with a little bit of injury. But again, when we look at offensive line, we're looking for: can they get to the blocks we want them to make? What do they do when they get there? What's their mentality as far as working, as far as attacking issues, as far as developing in the weight room? And these three guys all have the same molds... when they get to the blocks, they want to finish, they want to fight, they want to get after it." - Frey

Allen Stallings, Defensive End, Oak & River Forest HS (Oak Park, Ill.)

Indiana had to scramble quickly after the decommitments of Georgia prospects Allen Cater and Chris Henderson to find a defensive end for its 2016 recruiting class. They thought they had the replacement in DJ Wonnum on Jan. 20, but Wonnum flipped his verbal commitment from Indiana to South Carolina 11 days later after the Gamecocks offered. The Hoosiers found their missing piece in Allen Stallings, who flipped his verbal commitment from Central Michigan to Indiana on Jan. 31. Stallings, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound defensive end, brings size and speed with a 4.6 40. He played mostly in a 3-4 defensive scheme during his senior season at Oak & River Forest HS. 

"He's going to fill that need that we have to get some pressure off the edges this year. Zach Shaw and Nick Mangieri did a nice job, obviously Nick with garnering some All-Big Ten honors. So we needed to get someone that could replace those guys on the edge, and when you watch his tape you'll see that. He's a very explosive, very passionate player. Really plays with a high motor. And obviously, being a midwestern kid, he's used to playing in the elements that we're going to play in. He's a good get for us, and we're going to look for him to come in and compete early for us." - McDaniel

Grayson Stover, Offensive Tackle, Hudson HS (Hudson, Fla.)

Stover was originally committed to South Florida, but flipped his verbal pledge to the Hoosiers after members of Indiana's coaching staff visited Stover last week. Stover played both offensive tackle and defensive end at Hudson, but he told AllHoosiers.com that the IU coaching staff sees him playing along the offensive line. Scout Florida Recruiting Analyst Corey Bender is very familiar with Stover's play in the trenches and provides insight below: 

"Stover is an agile, aggressive hog in the trenches that flashes good knee bend and leverage. In addition to his intriguing size at offensive tackle, Stover has nimble feet and does a good job of sliding in pass protection. Stover is a nasty, hard-nosed offensive lineman who gives it his all until the play is whistled dead. Stover has to work on his body and trim some weight moving forward, but certainly fits the mold of a Big Ten offensive lineman."

The 6-foot-6, 290-pound lineman also had offers from Vanderbilt, Virginia and Western Kentucky, among others. 

"Grayson comes from an up-and-coming program in Hudson, and he's probably the highest rated player coming out of Hudson. His coaches, coach Baylor and coach King did a great job of developing. Usually you see kids like this transfer to other schools, and he didn't. He stayed to fight for the Cobras. You're seeing the biggest prospect as far as stature goes. He's probably closer to 6-6, 300 pounds now. Strong kid, moves well. Has a strong competitive nature, really wants to excel. To watch him and get to know him, he really, in my eyes, has been developing every day... you're seeing a kid who really wants to be good and fits right in." - Frey

Ian Thomas, Tight End, Nassau Community College (Garden City, New York)

A late SEC offer didn't sway Thomas, who has remained verbally committed to Indiana since Dec. 8. Despite Texas A&M offering Thomas during his official visit to College Station on Jan. 29, he said he was still committed to IU. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end finished last season with 23 receptions for 433 yards and three touchdowns. He played two seasons total at Nassau. He also had offers from New Mexico and Temple, among others. 

"Ian's got an unbelievable story. Growing up, lost both of his parents when he was young and was raised by his brother and his sister on the east side of Baltimore. Was a big-time basketball player coming up through high school there and ended up going to junior college at Nassau. Unbelievable athlete, great pass catcher. He also has a physical presence blocking. He's a guy that's going to come here and get better and get stronger. A really mature kid at his age, just really excited about his upside." - Patton

Jayme Thompson, Safety, Iowa Western Community College (Council Bluffs, Iowa)

Indiana got an immediate upgrade in its defensive backfield with the addition of Thompson. He verbally committed to the Hoosiers on July 29, 2015, choosing IU over offers from Iowa State, Nebraska and Oklahoma, among others. A former four-star safety in 2013, Thompson originally committed to Ohio State out of high school but redshirted that year. He looked elsewhere for playing time at the end of the 2013 season, which he redshirted, and spent his next two years at Iowa Western Community College. He'll have two years of eligiblity remaining with Indiana beginning in 2016. Scout describes Thompson as a player with a build of a traditional safety who excels at playing the run and the pass.

"He's a little bit more mature, and we felt like with some of the losses that we had in the secondary, we needed an older, mature kid to come in and from a mental standpoint and leadership standpoint be able to help us in the back end. Getting him on campus here at mid-year really helps that process." - Joseph


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