Bloomington, Ind. – Two words sum up the Hoosier football staff's plans for their remaining scholarships.
With anywhere from five to eight scholarship slots still to fill, the Hoosiers would like to add a pass rushing defensive end and a cornerback or two. With James Hardy a near certainty to depart for the NFL at season's end and the team's propensity to utilize three and four wide receiver sets, landing another wideout is also a priority.
But those needs aren't as dire as they've been in the past. In each of the past two seasons some glaring issues on the roster required that IU target specific positions. In 2006 it was in the trenches when IU inked seven offensive linemen, and a year ago it was at linebacker where the Hoosiers signed four.
There are no such red flags on the roster this time around, which gives Coach Bill Lynch and his staff more flexibility during the final eight weeks of recruiting.
"I think we are pretty much down to wanting the best football players available, which is a good place to be," Lynch said.
And a different place than IU has been in recent years.
Some of those "best available" players are in Bloomington this weekend, as IU welcomes 14 players to town for official visits. Among the group are seven who have already verballed to IU, while the other seven are among the staff's most coveted targets still on the board. The uncommitted players expected to be in town this weekend are Gainesville, Ga., wideout Tyler Adetona; Gulfport, Fla., quarterback Orhian Johnson; Memphis, Tenn., wideout Charles Love III; Cleveland, Ohio, cornerback Willy Lowe; Marietta,Ga., safety Bryden Trawick; Miami (Fla.) transfer Doug Wiggins; and Indianapolis, Ind., tailback Darius Willis.
The two biggest names on this weekend's list are Willis and Johnson, a pair of players who the Hoosier staff think fit perfectly into what they are trying to do offensively.
Willis is a 6-0, 215-pounder whose combination of size and speed make him a potential contributor from day one. Johnson, meanwhile, wouldn't be an immediate impact player thanks to the presence of sophomore Kellen Lewis, but he boasts the same sort of athleticism and run-pass skills that could make the transition from Lewis virtually seamless in a couple of years.
Both are also perfect examples of IU's ability to target skill in its recruiting efforts instead of need. At tailback, the Hoosiers will return Marcus Thigpen next season, while Demetrius McCray and Bryan Payton both have two years of eligibility remaining as well. At quarterback, Indiana is slated to have a trio of young scholarship quarterbacks on the roster next year as well Ben Chappell, Teddy Schell and current IU commit Adam Follett.
But both Willis and Johnson have the skills and/or potential to make a quick ascent up the depth chart, irregardless of who is currently ahead of them.
That's a good situation to be in for a football program, and it's one that IU is finding itself in for the first time in a long time.
The Hoosiers are also being aided in their recruiting endeavors by the fact they're headed to Tempe, Ariz., at month's end to compete in the Insight Bowl, which marks the first time in 14 years IU has received a bowl invitation. After preaching about a vision for the program, IU's staff now has some tangible results to point to as well when talking to recruits.
"I think (the bowl trip) is immeasurable in recruiting," Lynch said. "Everyone who plays at this level is trying to sell the idea that we are a bowl team on a regular basis…In recruiting, that is very important. Kids want to go where you have a chance to be successful and go to bowl games."
DECKER: New Approach for IU Recruiting
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