There was a time when St. Louis area cornerback Antonio Gully was contemplating not even making his official visit to Indiana earlier this month, but he's glad he did.
The 6-0, 175-pound cornerback from Cardinal Ritter H.S. had already made an official visit to Illinois, and had been impressed with his potential opportunities in Champaign. There were some who were suggesting that he go ahead and cancel his other scheduled officials and pledge to Coach Ron Zook's Illini.
But the persistence of IU Assistant Coach Matt Canada lured Gully to Bloomington for an official visit Dec. 2-4, and according to Gully's high school coach, it was the right decision.
"When he went to Indiana, he called me before the visit was over," said Cardinal Ritter H.S. Assistant Coach Michael Baker. "He called and said, ‘you know, I'm seriously considering Indiana, very strongly.'"
Baker pressed the standpoint cornerback for where things stood at that moment between the Big Ten rivals, and it appeared it wasn't going to be an easy decision to make.
"He said they were dead even, and that maybe Indiana was a little bit ahead of Illinois," said Baker.
That's good news for the Hoosiers, who are in need of a playmaker at the cornerback position in this year's recruiting class. Gully, who recorded nine interceptions as a senior and returned three for touchdowns, certainly falls into that mix.
"We had all-district and all-conference meetings, and (the other coaches) told us the one thing about our team, even though we had a lot of speed at other places, they always had to know where (Gully) was at," said Baker. "They didn't want to put the ball up and have him get his hands on it."
One of the reasons Gully had contemplated passing up his IU official was because he had already been on the Bloomington campus in September, coming to town to watch Indiana's matchup with Kentucky. He thought that visit had let him see everything he needed to see about Coach Terry Hoeppner's program, but Canada convinced him that the official visit was still worth taking.
On his visit, Gully had a chance to not only tour IU's football facilities, but to also meet with a handful of academic counselors, who were able to shed more light on his intended major of graphic art/design.
"First and foremost thing is the kid wants to major in art, graphics art, and Indiana has a tremendous art program," said Baker. "As we looked at the school in the Big Ten, I think there were three that really stood out, and I think Indiana was first, and I think Illinois had a program, but a lot of schools didn't even have the program that he wanted to pursue."
While his opportunities on the football field are certainly going to weigh heavily on his decision, Baker said Gully's opportunities in the classroom are equally important.
"One of the things you have to understand is (Cardinal Ritter H.S.) is a college prep high school that the kid goes to, so all these kids, the goal is to go and get their degree," said Baker. "People kind of underestimate the role that will play into his decision. That won't be compromised by him. He will take the best opportunity."
So where will that opportunity come from? Gully has taken his officials to Indiana and Illinois, and returned from an official to Wisconsin this weekend. Baker and Gully have both said Wisconsin is likely running a distant third to the Hoosiers and the Illini, and a decision appears imminent.
"I honestly think he'll decide this week," said Baker.
Gully About Ready To Decide?
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