Plenty to be Excited About with Ernest

Matt Ernest might not be the biggest name on paper with the Hoosiers' 2007 football recruiting class, but he's the sort of player who could wind up being one of the biggest steals for Terry Hoeppner's staff when people look back at the '07 class in three or four years...

Bloomington, Ind. - The biggest names don't always make the biggest splash in the world of recruiting.

Over the course of the last several years, a couple of the names that stirred IU football fans into a frenzy were the likes of Matt Lewis, Mike Vlahogeorge and Jim Jadron. That trio combined to take zero snaps in IU uniforms before they departed the Bloomington campus.

Meanwhile, players such as James Hardy, Kellen Lewis and Rodger Saffold, among others, have gone from blip on the football recruiting radar to big parts of IU football's future.

With that in mind, don't be stunned if some of the less-heralded members of IU's 2007 recruiting class turn out to be some of the biggest catches when one reflects of the class.

Matt Ernest might be just that type of player.

The 6-2, 180-pound wideout from Crown Point (Ind.) High School didn't create much of a buzz last summer for a couple of reasons. First of all he missed nearly his entire junior season after breaking his collarbone in the first quarter of the season's first game. He then pledged to Indiana in July before a big senior season could have much of an impact on his recruiting interest.

But his prep coach, Chip Pettit, thinks everything wound up working out perfectly for him.

"He wound up at IU, a place that really wanted him, and he's happy," Pettit said. "I think Matt feels IU has everything he needs."

Ernest, meanwhile, was a first-team All-State pick as a senior, catching 56 passes for 960 yards and nine touchdowns on a team that headed into the state playoffs ranked No. 1 in the state. Ernest starred on both sides of the ball, coming up with a handful of huge plays in Crown Point's secondary as well.

Pettit has been around Ernest for some time and thinks IU is getting a good one to add to its already deep corps of receivers.

"While Matt missed his junior year and maybe flew under the radar a little from a recruiting standpoint, I think Matt's ball skills are great, and I think his speed is very good," Pettit said. "He's a 4.5 speed guy, and 4.5 at 6-2 is pretty good."

He should also add some versatility to the wideout position as well.

"He's versatile enough that he can play in the slot or outside," Pettit said. "I don't think he's the 6-4 or 6-5 kid that you're going to throw the jump ball to, but I think he can play a lot of different spots."

So could Ernest be a first-year contributor? Indiana has a deep and talented pool of receivers returning from a year ago, headlined by James Hardy and James Bailey. Add in the likes of Andrew Means, Nick Polk and Ray Fisher, and there will be plenty of players ahead of him when he arrives on the Bloomington campus next fall.

That could wind up being a good thing, according to Pettit, who admits he'd love to see Ernest get a redshirt year in the fall before making his debut in 2008.

"If there's one thing Matt needs to do, I think he needs to get more physical," Pettit said. "He could use a year to mature and lift and adjust to the speed and how physical the college game is, like all kids do.

"But he's a kid with a very high ceiling." Top Stories