Q: A quick question about Chipola J.S. big man Deandre Thomas. Though IU's used up its 2007 allotment of scholarships, rumor has it our staff loves him. In football they're allowed to "Greyshirt" players...either having them pay their own way for a semester and putting them under scholarship in January using a scholarship from the 2008 class, or having them just enroll in January which would seem less likely-Thomas being a JUCO transfer only having two years eligibility. Is IU serious about Deandre Thomas-who wanted to continue playing closer to his Chicago home along with his boyhood friend Jemarcus Ellis? How do you see that playing out?
A: You can rule out any possibility of a "greyshirt" – I don't believe that's a possibility for Division I basketball players, whose seasons are still ongoing after the semester break. For Thomas to wind up at IU, a scholarship is going to have to open up.
I think the initial thought was that D.J. White would opt to go to the NBA after this season, and Thomas would be the player who'd fill that spot. That's still a possibility, although White has yet to dominate in such a way that would make him a sure-fire first-round NBA draft pick, and I can't see White leaving if he doesn't see himself going in the first round. Bracey Wright was willing to depart early without that sort of guarantee, but I think White will be back for another season if he doesn't get favorable feedback from those in the know about the NBA draft.
That would mean something unexpected would need to happen for a scholarship to free up for Thomas. Transfers and academics are the two most common ways a slot frees up, although there's nothing to suggest either of those are possibilities at this point for anyone on the IU roster. As the season goes along, though, and a playing rotation becomes a little more set, someone could always decided to transfer at season's end for more playing time. Right now, though, 10 or 11 players are still getting an opportunity so it's a stretch to even speculate who that could be.
So…how will this play out? I suspect if something frees up they'll take him, but I'd probably say its 50/50 or less right now that something will open up.
Q: Can you give us an idea of who the staff is recruiting for 2008? A lot of focus has been put on the 2007 class, but I was just wondering about our future plans.
A: At this point, the focus is obviously still very much on the '07 class, but '08 is just around the corner. The first priority will be evaluating the top in-state players and trying to take another step toward getting the best homegrown players to Bloomington.
I believe one player they really like is 6-4, 215-pound Ben Davis H.S. quarterback MarQueis Gray. Gray is a dual-threat signal caller, rushing for 603 yards and throwing for another 1,100 as a junior while helping Ben Davis to a 9-4 record. He combines tremendous athleticism with great size and could be a special QB at the next level. He's one of only a handful of in-state players who's been invited to the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio next month, so others are well aware of his skills as well.
There are some other talented skill players in the state, including Ft. Wayne wideout John Goodman, North Harrison H.S. tailback Bryan Schroeder and Franklin Central tailback Darius Willis who Hoeppner's staff will go after as well.
Things will become a bit more clear once IU has its junior day after the first of the year and invites some of the players its targeted from neighboring states Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
Q: Any way to come up with a revised list of possible football recruits after losing out on many of the guys we knew about?
A: An actual "list" is always a challenging thing for anyone to come up with – the truth of the matter is the IU staff, just like any college program, has players it categorizes as its "A" list, its "B" list, and so on…the staff's actual list consists of hundreds of players who move up or down as priorities based on what the guys ahead of them decide to do.
With that said, here's what I believe is going on for the remainder of the recruiting season. Obviously IU is still awaiting word on a couple of players who took visits in December who remain uncommitted – Plantation, Fla., DB Jarrell Drane; and Dallas, Texas defensive end Ron Jackson. I think there's also some hope that another player or two from Warren Central will still wind up in Bloomington, despite the appearance they're either headed elsewhere or leaning elsewhere.
Finally, February's visitors will likely consist of a handful of players from Florida and Texas, with some others sprinkled in from Georgia and other states. January is always a critical month for Florida and Texas preps to make their decisions, and the IU staff has known its wanted to have some scholarships available for this time in the recruiting season.
Indiana only has five or six scholarships remaining for the class, so it can afford to pretty selective with who it brings to campus and ultimately offers. That's why the December visit lists were relatively small compared to previous seasons, and also why IU didn't have any visitors the weekend of Dec. 16-17.
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