Q: With one scholarship left (maybe two if D.J. leaves after the 2007-08 season) who does IU have a good shot at signing besides Bud Mackey and Eshaunte Jones?
A: Here's where the numbers stack up - with five signees this fall, IU has used up its allotted 13 scholarships for the 2007-08 squad, on paper. IU will have three scholarship seniors (A.J. Ratliff, Mike White, Lance Stemler), three juniors (D.J. White, Ben Allen, Jamarcus Ellis), three sophomores (Xavier Keeling, Armon Bassett, Joey Shaw) and four freshmen (Eric Gordon, Brandon McGee, Jordan Crawford and Eli Holman).
Bud Mackey and Eshaunte Jones have already verbally committed for the 2008 class, leaving one opening, on paper, for the Hoosiers to fill. As you've mentioned, that number could increase depending on the potential early departures of D.J. White and/or Eric Gordon for the NBA following next season.
So who are possibilities? The staff has obviously already made in-roads with players such as Angel Garcia, Philip Jurick, Darius Miller, Emmanuel Negedu, Luke Fabrizius and Tyler Zeller, among others. Logically, the IU staff would use any remaining scholarships on these sort of big men. I've talked with the prep coaches of Miller and Jurick, both of whom supposedly enjoyed their IU unofficial visits this fall very much. Fabrizius and Garcia were also in town for unofficials for Midnight Madness, and Negedu and Zeller have strong ties to the area/state.
At this point, none appear close to making a decision, so I'd say IU is on pretty equal footing with all of them. Kelvin Sampson appears to have IU on all of their short lists, which is about all you can hope for at this point before players take official visits. The fact most have taken unofficials says a lot about their interest in IU. Personally, I'd like to see IU land Negedu, a player who first caught my attention a couple of summers ago on a 16-and-under Indiana Elite team at the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington. He is an ultra-athletic forward with a big frame and a power game.
Q: When is the stadium construction going to start, and is it in fact going to look like that ugly mini-Horseshoe?
A: My understanding is they're still working out details on when to get things underway, but I'd anticipate some initial work getting started by the summer. I'm sure they'd like to have things wrapping up by the start of the 2008 football season, although time will tell exactly how reasonable it is to have the project completed by then.
As for whether it will look like that "ugly mini-Horseshoe," I suppose whether it's ugly or not is in the eye of the beholder, but the plan is to enclose the north end, forming a horseshoe shape for the facilities seating.
Q: Rumors are flying about Jerimy Finch opening up his recruiting again because a recent visit to Michigan did not go well?
A: To be honest, I haven't heard anything about a visit to Ann Arbor going bad (or well), but it's been pretty clear for some time the IU staff still thinks it's in the running for the 6-2, 200-pound safety from Indianapolis' Warren Central H.S. Finch originally pledged to Michigan over the summer, but that didn't keep him from making an unofficial to Bloomington for the Hoosiers' Homecoming win over Michigan State, and there have also been rumors about him being in Bloomington even more frequently than that talking to the IU football staff.
This isn't an Eric Gordon-caliber saga, but as was the case with the North Central H.S. guard, where there's smoke, there's usually fire. Finch hasn't come out and ruled out the possibility of going to IU or elsewhere, and his trips to Bloomington suggest it's still very much a possibility. How good of a possibility it is remains to be seen, but I think the IU staff will be working Finch as hard as anyone right up until the February signing day. If IU can pull it off, it will be the biggest commitment it has landed in years. Finch is the top player in the state, and he's at a position of need. This would be a huge coup for the Hoosiers.