Which Back is Best for IU?

The state of Indiana is loaded with quality tailbacks in the '08 recruiting class, with talents such as Elliott Dutra, Albert Evans, Aaron King, Bryan Schroeder (pictured), Chad Sherer, Andre Turner, and Darius Willis - but how do they rank in the IU staff's eyes?

Bloomington, Ind. - So who's the best of the bunch?

It might not be the depth of talent that Florida or Texas boasts on an annual basis, but the state of Indiana has an abundance of prep football talent in this year's class, most notably at tailback. A handful of those players have been receiving varying degrees of interest from the IU staff, including a couple who have already been offered scholarships.

So how do the in-state tailbacks rank on the Hoosiers' recruiting board? Based on who's been offered and what the players and their coaches have been telling HoosierNation.com, it appears they are the following pecking order:

1. Darius Willis, RB, 5-10, 200, Indianapolis, Ind. (Franklin Central)

Willis was one of the first players to be offered by the IU staff. While his junior season totals of 231 carries for 1,277 yards and 15 touchdowns aren't as gaudy as a couple of the other in-state tailbacks, Willis has a combination of size and speed (4.4 in the 40, :10.8 in the 100-meters) that has made him the clear-cut No. 1 tailback from a recruiting perspective in the state in the '08 class. He's the 22nd ranked recruit in the Midwest region according to Scout.com, and his high school coach, Lance Scheib, told HoosierNation.com he's down to four schools – Indiana, Purdue, Illinois and Notre Dame. All but Notre Dame have offered scholarships, although there appears to be plenty of time for the Irish to do that since Scheib also said he expects Willis to wait until his senior season concludes before making a decision.

2. Albert Evans, RB, 6-1, 190, Portage, Ind. (Portage)

It's a close battle for the No. 2 spot on IU's wish list, but the fact Evans is one of two in-state tailbacks who has already been offered a scholarship suggests he's next up behind Willis. Evans combines good size with excellent speed, evidenced by his 4.5 time in the 40. He's also a sprinter and long jumper on Portage's track team and also plays basketball. He's coming off a junior season that included 1,603 yards and 14 touchdowns on 254 carries, helping him earn Junior All-State honors. Like Willis, he attended IU's Junior Day in February and has been a focal point of IU's recruiting efforts all spring.

3. Bryan Schroeder, RB, 5-10, 205, Corydon, Ind. (North Harrison)

From a productivity standpoint, they don't get any better than Schroeder, who rushed for 2,043 yards and 26 touchdowns on 185 carries last season, which works out to better than 11 yards per carry. He heads into his senior season with 5,601 career rushing yards, and he has an excellent chance of becoming the most prolific running back in Indiana high school history – he needs 1,960 yards to pass Indianapolis Cathedral's Otis Shannon, who starred from 1997-2000. The one thing that's been holding Schroeder back is the fact he plays for a 3A school, so there are some who still have some questions about how big of an adjustment it will be for him to play against college-caliber talent. But his productivity, size and speed are on par with any of the others, and his combine times have been impressive. His prep coach, Jason Mullis, said Indiana is going to offer a scholarship after Schroeder takes the SAT in June. Mullis also said Schroeder wants to stay in-state and that IU and Purdue would be his top two picks.

4. Aaron King, RB, 5-10, 185, Carmel, Ind. (Carmel)

Former IU assistant coach Mo Moriarity has a good one at Carmel in King, who helped the Greyhounds to the state championship game by rushing for 2,379 yards and 28 touchdowns on 328 carries last season. Indiana has been up to see King on a couple of occasions, as has Illinois. Indiana hasn't offered yet, and King is still waiting on his first scholarship offer. Probably the biggest question mark about King is whether he's big enough to handle the beating that an every down tailback does in the Big Ten. That's likely why he ranks fourth on IU's list behind Willis, Evans and Schroeder, all of whom are in the 200-pound range.

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