Terry Hoeppner's focus is winning football games on Saturdays, but the biggest victory of his two-year tenure might have come on a Sunday.
That's because yesterday Warren Central H.S. teammates Jerimy Finch and Jeff Boyd spurned scholarship offers from a Who's Who List of college programs to play their college football for the homestate Hoosiers.
The duo gave Hoeppner the news at the conclusion of their official visits this weekend.
"Truthfully, I think his wife (Jane) was more excited than he was," Finch said. "At least she showed it more."
Rest assured, Hoeppner was every bit as elated at the news. Boyd is a 6-3, 280-pound defensive tackle who is Scout.com's seventh-ranked player in the state, while Finch is a 6-3, 200-pounder who is the eighth-ranked safety in the nation and the top-ranked recruit in Indiana. Indiana has now secured verbals from five of the top 10 players in the state, along with Max Dedmond (No. 5), Matt Ernest (No. 9) and Dennis Ziegler (No. 10).
They're also the third and fourth members of the four-time defending state champion Warren Central H.S. football team to pledge to Indiana. They join 6-6, 280-pound offensive lineman Andrew McDonald and 6-1, 180-pound cornerback Chris Adkins as members of that history-making squad who intend to bring their winning ways to Bloomington.
"We're going to bring a winning attitude," Boyd said. "That's all we're accustomed to."
Indiana, meanwhile, isn't accustomed to getting players to de-commit from Michigan to play in Bloomington (which Finch did) or in convincing preps to turn down scholarship offers from BCS bowl teams like West Virginia and Louisville (which Boyd did). But the Warren Central duo is convinced IU is where they belong, and that they can be big part of the Hoosiers' resurgence.
Much of the credit for the commitments goes to assistant coach Billy Lynch, IU's primary in-state recruiter who continued to work on the Warren Central teammates even when it appeared they were headed elsewhere.
"The Indiana coaches stayed with me throughout the whole season," said Finch, Scout.com's 75th-ranked player nationally in the 2007 class. "It was nothing but good stuff."
Truth be told, Finch's commitment is the biggest recruiting story to hit Bloomington in more than a decade. Not since Cam Cameron lured Evansville Bosse tailback Levron Williams to Bloomington in his debut season has IU been able to secure a pledge from a recruit with Finch's lofty national ranking. Both Finch and Boyd are expected to compete for immediate playing time on an Indiana team that came just one win away from earning its first bowl invitation since 1994.
But simply qualifying for a bowl – any bowl – isn't what Boyd and Finch are thinking about. Instead, they're thinking about things a little bit bigger and a whole lot better.
"Hopefully we can make history," Finch said.
Boyd said Hoeppner is thinking the same thing now that he's landed two players who figure to be mainstays on the Hoosier defense for years to come.
"He said, ‘we're thinking about Roses now,'" Boyd said.
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