Making Sense Of IU's Football Recruiting

HoosierNation.com sorts through the names and the rumors and gets to the bottom of what IU will do with the rest of its 2006 football recruiting class.

With December's official visit schedule winding down and national signing day drawing closer, it's time to make some sense of where Indiana's 2006 football recruiting is, and where's it's going over the next two months.

Indiana has commitments from 13 players to date, including six offensive linemen, two linebackers (Matt Mayberry included in this group), two defensive linemen, two tight ends and one quarterback. The consensus is Indiana has anywhere from 5-7 scholarships remaining, with cornerback and linebacker remaining as positions of need.

It's evident that Indiana doesn't have a great deal of available scholarships remaining based on the number of players who have been in Bloomington during the last two weeks of official visits. During the weekend of Dec. 2, Indiana had 11 recruits in town, seven of whom were already verbally committed to play at IU. Last weekend's crop of visitors was only six, and once again a couple of those were players who had already pledged.

While Indiana did get some bad news this week when St. Louis cornerback Antonio Gully picked Illinois over the Hoosiers, its January visitors figure to make up most of the remaining commitments. Next month is when the Hoosiers are expected to welcome a handful of recruiting targets from Florida, a state that the IU staff has been hitting hard. In recent weeks, at least three Hoosier assistants (Troy Douglas, Matt Canada and Gerald Brown) have been canvassing the Sunshine State talking with prospective recruits and trying to line up officials to Bloomington for next month. IU offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, meanwhile, has been in Texas and trying to line up visitors as well for January as well.

Recruits from Florida are generally going to make their visits later than others for a variety of reasons. For one, the state's big school state playoffs didn't wrap up until last weekend, making it difficult for preps to commit to officials in the first two weeks of December without knowing how far their teams will go in the playoffs. Even if those recruits didn't anticipate their teams making deep runs in the playoffs, there are also a variety of All-Star games around the state in mid-December that attract a large number of college coaches as well, an opportunity that recruits often don't want to pass up.

Finally, by the first of the year many Florida preps have a better idea of where they stand with the state's marquee programs, Florida, Florida State and Miami (Fla.). Often times the in-state recruits No. 1 goal is to play at one of those three national powerhouses, and many don't find out until after December visits if they will be offered scholarship by any of them or not.

So the fact Indiana hasn't secured any commitments from the last two weekends of visits shouldn't be a huge concern. Certainly Indiana was hoping to get a verbal from Gully and they remain very high on two of last weekend's visitors from Missouri - 6-7, 305-pound offensive lineman Keith Williams and 6-2, 220-pound linebacker Sam Johnson - but Hoeppner's staff wasn't counting on wrapping up its recruiting in the final month of the year.

Remember, a year ago Indiana welcomed Florida preps Demetrius McCray, Jammie Kirlew and Neal Jones in for official visits in January, and all three wound up committing to Coach Terry Hoeppner. Another Florida prep, Matt Lewis, didn't make an official to IU, but still wound up pledging to the IU staff after the first of the year.

With as much success as Indiana had in Florida a year ago, the staff didn't want to tie up all of its available scholarships too early, and then have nothing left to offer a slew of talented Floridians who will be looking for college destinations next month.

Another thing that could have an impact on how many scholarships IU has to offer for its 2006 class is attrition. With the first semester winding down, the IU coaching staff will soon find out where its players wound up academically this fall, and if any won't be back in the spring. A year ago, the Hoosiers lost offensive linemen Jim Jadron and Dewayne Roland to grades, so there's always the possibility of a player or two falling by the wayside due to their work in the classroom.

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