With a critical 2006 football recruiting season now the focal point for Coach Terry Hoeppner's staff, the first-year coach wants to make sure that he keeps them coming.
That means not only bringing in a handful of players to fill the remaining open scholarship slots, but also making sure those that have already committed, stay committed. With nothing more than their word tying verbal pledges to college programs until signing day, the coaching staff must continue to actively recruit committed players until they sign their letters of intent in February.
A couple of players that IU fans have been keeping an eye on in that regard are Darien, Ill., athlete Matt Mayberry and Platteville, Wis., offensive lineman Mike Stark. Stark recently took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin, while Mayberry continues to be pursued by 6-8 programs that are hoping he'll back off his IU commitment.
Mayberry told HoosierNation.com last week that he hasn't set up any other visits and that he remains "totally committed" to Indiana, suggesting that one of the biggest names in IU's '06 recruiting class will likely be on the sidelines the next time IU lines up for a regular season football game next fall.
While Mayberry is expected to wind up in Bloomington, it's unclear what position he'll eventually wind up in at the college level. A 2,000-plus yard rusher as a senior at Hinsdale (Ill.) South H.S., the 6-2, 200-pound Mayberry played just about everywhere at the prep level.
"Coach would basically play me wherever he needed me to win games," said Mayberry, whose team went 10-2 and lost in the Illinois Class VII quarterfinals. "I'd just fill in the role wherever I was needed and tried to get the job done."
Offensively, he certainly did that. As the team's tailback, Mayberry rushed for 2,103 yards and 28 touchdowns. He had a trio of games in which he rushed for more than 250 yards, and was clearly the focal point of the Hinsdale South offense.
As good as Mayberry has been offensively, though, most have assumed he'd wind up playing defense in college. He's been most often talked about as an outside linebacker, while safety has been another spot that some coaches envision him playing.
If Mayberry does wind up on defense, it will likely be a position he has some familiarity with.
"Defensively I played middle linebacker, outside linebacker, safety and cornerback this year," said Mayberry. "I played every snap on offense, but not necessarily on defense. But if coach needed me in there, I was in there. Whatever he wanted, I did."
That sort of versatility will be a big plus for the IU coaching staff, which is looking for some immediate impact players in this year's class to shore up an Indiana defense that loses five starters from a unit that gave up at least 38 points in the final six games of the season.
Mayberry, who said he was planning on trying to make it down for Indiana's game against Purdue this weekend, will definitely be in Bloomington the weekend of Dec. 2, when he makes his official visit to IU.
While Indiana struggled down the stretch after a 4-1 start, Mayberry said he was impressed with how the team kept fighting during the tough times, and he's also convinced that Hoeppner has the program going in the right direction.
"They are going through a tough time, but Coach Hoeppner has turned things around, and I know the attitude is good," said Mayberry. "It's not going to just take one year to turn around, so they are going in the right direction."
Hoeppner Wants To Keep Recruits Coming
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