SIGNING DAY 2006 - Mike Stark

After spending his high school career mostly blocking for the run Mike Stark really did not know what to think watching Indiana quarterback Blake Powers drop back in the pocket looking for the long ball.

After spending his high school career mostly blocking for the run Mike Stark really did not know what to think watching Indiana quarterback Blake Powers drop back in the pocket looking for the long ball.

One of Indiana's early recruits along the offensive line, Stark may not have the experience blocking for that type of play but he is ready to learn.

"I'm really not sure if I'm better at blocking for the run or the pass," said Stark. "I definitely like run blocking, but I played guard in my high school offense and we didn't get any five or seven-step drops in the passing game. I don't have a lot of experience pass blocking, but I'm ready to learn what it takes. I want to be a balanced lineman."

Stark will get a chance to block for the run and the pass if the Hoosiers keep the same tendencies they used last season. Indiana rushed the ball 425 and passed it 403 times, running an almost completely balanced offense.

At 6'7" and 282 pounds, the Wisconsin All-State selection could play at guard or tackle for Indiana. While there appears to be an opportunity for a true freshman or two to challenge for playing time right away, this incoming freshman expects a redshirt season to help him adjust to the difference between high school and college.

"I watched most of the games on TV," said Stark. "I never did make it down for a game in Bloomington, but they looked good from what I saw. They were in most of the games and they fought hard. I never saw them give up. I'm pretty happy that I made my decision to go to IU.

"The way they ran the offense this year was definitely interesting to me. It really opened my eyes to what is out there. I'm real excited to play in that type of offense and see what I can do. I'm ready for the challenge."

With the national signing day here Stark is relieved to be done with the recruiting process. Even after his commitment to the Hoosiers, there were rumors that Stark may not sign with the Hoosiers and he knew very little about the actual Indiana program. Stark admits one of those rumors was true.

"It's going to be a relief for it to finally be over and I feel good about signing with the Hoosiers," said Stark. "It should be a good time. Truthfully, before I committed I didn't know that much about the Indiana program. Then I really started to research it and I got more familiar with the coaching staff and my position coach. Once I found all those details I felt a lot more comfortable about my decision."

Now that he is comfortable with his decision it is time for Stark to get comfortable with his teammates. He is one of seven offensive linemen Hoeppner and his staff recruited this season and will have to compete from day one to put himself ahead.

"I met some of the other linemen who committed and they seemed like a classy group, nice guys," said Stark. "With seven of us coming in at once it's definitely going to push us more than if just one of two of us were coming in. And I think it's going to be fun just to have guys my same age around learning the same positions.

"It gives us a chance to learn a lot more and a chance to get acquainted with the offense earlier in our careers. I think in the future we'll definitely be more comfortable in the offense and with each other."

With his name on the dotted line Stark will be part of Hoeppner's first recruiting class after Hoeppner got a late start last season because of when he took over the program. One of the most important qualities he was looking for in this group was players with the strength and willingness to rebuild a program that has not had a winning season since 1994.

"It's going to be a challenge to turn the program around, but from what I've seen in the coaching staff at IU it's definitely something we can reach and I hope I can help with it," said Stark. "He has everything to lose coming into a program and trying to rebuild it. I think he wants to win more than anybody. It'll be fun and a lot of work, but hopefully we'll pull through for him." Top Stories