Bloomington – Louisville linebacker Ridge Wilson got more than he bargained for from his official visit to Indiana last weekend.
The 6'4", 207-pound linebacker from two-time defending state champion Louisville (Ky.) Central H.S. admits he wasn't expecting to find so much to like about the Hoosier program. While Indiana was one of his three finalists along with Kentucky and Illinois, the Hoosiers appeared to be bringing up the rear.
But that's changed following this weekend's trip, and Wilson says Indiana is now running neck-and-neck with the Illini and Wildcats.
"Honestly, I didn't think Indiana had that much to offer," Wilson said. "But the visit helped them a lot. It was impressive."
Wilson, who was hosted by freshman wide receiver Charles Love, said he was impressed by what he heard and what he saw during his time in town. The facility upgrades were of particular interest to Wilson, as was IU's Kelley School of Business and what he heard about its reputation.
"The Kelley School of Business is ranked in the top two or maybe No. 1 (in the country) so that really caught my eye," said Wilson, who plans on majoring in business.
He also spent plenty of time with his recruiting coach Dennis Springer as well as IU Coach Bill Lynch, and he was also hearing good things about his chances of playing early if he winds up being a part of Indiana's 2009 recruiting class.
"They're talking about me maybe playing as a true freshman," said Wilson. "They said if I come in and do what I have to do, they'll let me know. It depends on if I'm physically ready and mentally ready. The coaches make the final decision, but it depends on me and if I am ready."
There's plenty of reason to believe Wilson is the type of player who could be ready to play right away. An exceptional athlete who runs in the 4.6 range in the 40, Wilson earned All-State honors as a senior after totaling 54 tackles. Wilson also played wide receiver for his team as a prep, and he's also a standout basketball player on a Louisville Central team that advanced to the state's Sweet 16 a year ago.
Those attributes are why Wilson has garnered so much attention, and why he'd be such a huge get for Indiana as it puts the finishing touches on one of IU's top recruiting classes in years.
"Coaches say they like the way I come off the edge and my football IQ, the way I know the game and respect the game," Wilson said. "They think I have the pro type body and they like the way I can defend the pass, how I can match up with a wideout if needed."
The IU coaches are hoping he'll be doing that in Bloomington next fall. Wilson has already make his official visit to Kentucky, and he said he's going to take his visit to Illinois later this week. Soon afterwards his three finalists will find out where he'd going to be headed.
While Indiana is going up against some tough recruiting competitors, it's clear that the Hoosiers aren't just an also-ran.
"I had a great time at Indiana," Wilson said. "I'm going to sit down with my football coach and we'll discuss on what school I'm going to go to. I'll let Coach Springer and Coach Lynch know before the end of this week probably."
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