Indiana's commitment to building a winning football program has enhanced its chances of receiving a commitment from one of the top cornerbacks in the Midwest.
Antonio Gully, a 6-0, 180-pound cornerback from St. Louis' Cardinal Ritter H.S. is considered one of the top covermen in the Midwest. A physical corner with 4.52 speed, he's received scholarship offers from a bevy of programs, including Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois, Missouri, SMU and Houston, while offers appear imminent from Kansas and Kansas State as well.
That's the sort of recruiting competition that Indiana hasn't been able to tangle with in recent years, but that doesn't appear to be the case with Gully, according to Cardinal Ritter assistant coach Michael Baker.
"I think for a while people thought Indiana had offered but they weren't a factor," said Baker. "That's definitely not the case – they are a major player in whatever he's going to do."
In fact, Baker said Indiana is in Gully's top "two or three." One of the biggest reasons is the sort of commitment to winning that has been lacking in the past.
Baker and Gully noticed that in a recent trip to Bloomington, when the duo made the drive from St. Louis to watch Indiana's 38-14 win over Kentucky.
"We could tell that from talking to the coaches, and by talking to the guys from our school that were recruited there before him," said Baker.
Cardinal Ritter has been a school that IU targeted in the past, including two years ago when IU offered defensive back Brian Baldwin, who is now a starting cornerback at Kansas State.
"One or two (of Cardinal Ritter's former players) went to a game (at Indiana) and it wasn't sold out, it wasn't full, the fans weren't there," said Baker.
"Now it's different, and it seems they really think they can win. They are talking bowls, and they haven't been talking like that for a long time.
"It's a totally different program. He sees there's a commitment winning there now. Antonio has been able to talk to other kids that Indiana recruited before, and they are telling him it's not the same program that it was."
Gully has also been impressed with the approach that IU Assistant Coach Matt Canada has taken throughout the process.
"Coach Canada has done an excellent job recruiting him by not pressuring him, and letting him see Indiana for what it is," said Baker. "He's really appreciated that, because there has been pressure on him by other schools and Coach Canada is just letting it play out."
It's possible that approach will pay off for Indiana, and potentially sooner rather than later.
"To be quite honest, the way Coach Canada recruited him, even though he didn't pressure him, he's kind of opened his eyes to Indiana," said Baker.
If Indiana is able to secure a commitment from the St. Louis area standout, they'll be welcoming a cornerback who has a track record of making big plays on the defensive side of the ball.
As a junior Gully led the state in interceptions with nine, and he's already tallied five as a senior – two of which he's returned for touchdowns. Teams have been tending to shy away from him in recent weeks, though, but that still hasn't kept him from making an impact.
"We played a wishbone team last week, and they ran for 300-some yards," said Baker. "They threw one pass, and Antonio picked it off.
"I think teams think they can lull him to sleep over there, but it doesn't work."
Hoosiers Well Positioned For Gully
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