Bloomington – A little competition wasn't about to scare Columbus' Dusty Kiel off from pledging to Indiana.
An All-State quarterback from Columbus East H.S., Kiel verballed to the Hoosiers nearly a month after Jeffersonville quarterback Edward Wright-Baker did the same. At the time Wright-Baker was clearly the more celebrated of the two quarterbacks, but that wasn't enough to steer Kiel in a different direction.
"That's one of the biggest things that stands out about Dusty – he's a bring it on type of kid," said his recruiting coach, Billy Lynch. "He feels like he's going to go in and compete against anyone and beat anybody out. I don't think (Wright-Baker's commitment) was ever a factor in his mind."
The Indiana staff is clearly glad it was able to lure both signal callers. Kiel's stock rose significantly during his senior season as he threw for 3,172 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,126 yards and another 14 scores. He's the latest in a long line of Kiel quarterbacks, and the game of football is extremely important to him according to Lynch.
"He lives the game of football – his whole family lives it," Lynch said. "You need that in your quarterback. I can tell from his observations and talking to him, he's that leader. He'll stick his chest out there and he's not afraid to put people on his back and show them the way."
While Indiana did a great job in-state (eight commits) and in neighboring states Ohio (5), Illinois (2) and Michigan (2), the 2009 list of signees is surprisingly devoid of players from other locales. Pennsylvania's Colin Rodkey is the only signee whose home state isn't Indiana or a bordering state.
Head Coach Bill Lynch said that isn't a change of recruiting philosophy, but rather simply how this year's class worked out.
"It just happened (that way)," Lynch said.
Lynch said his philosophy is to have a roster that is broken up into thirds – one-third players from Indiana, one-third of the players from "Big Ten country" and one-third from other areas such as Florida and the Atlanta area. Indiana's early recruiting success and a limited number of scholarships prevented Indiana from hitting Florida and Georgia as hard as they have in past years.
"In a year where you can get 24, 25, then the one-third, one-third, one-third would look a little different," Lynch said.
"I told those guys down south, keep recruiting, keep recruiting, keep developing those relationships, because a year from now we're going to have scholarships available, and that's where they're going to come from."
If Lynch had his way, he wouldn't have been talking about his 2009 recruiting class today. Instead he'd prefer to have been talking about them in the fall.
All but four of IU's signees committed in the summer, and Lynch is a proponent of having an early signing football signing period. Had that happened IU likely wouldn't have lost Michigan high school standouts Jeremy Gainer and Kenny Watkins, a pair of cousins who pledged to Lynch in the summer before backing out of those commitments in December.
Lynch said until this winter most other football coaches had been in favor of an early signing period as well, but the tide has turned as of late.
"It really changed this winter, and at our convention in early January, there were some conferences that were really opposed to it and some administrators that were opposed to it," Lynch said. "It got voted down pretty soundly, enough that I don't think it will come back up for a while."
Purdue might have handled the Indiana soundly on the football field in the fall, but Indiana clearly won the recruiting battle on Wednesday.
While Indiana announced a class that included eight in-state signees, Purdue's class of 18 had zero. The Boilermakers' decision to go elsewhere wasn't necessarily out of choice. Duwyce Wilson and Wright-Baker were both offered by Purdue before they committed to IU in the summer, and several of IU's other commits were getting interest from Coach Danny Hope's staff.
Purdue also didn't need to go elsewhere out of necessity. While Indiana will never be confused with Ohio for the depth of talent in its state, there are more and more Hoosier products playing major Division I football.
"We went down the list of 22 kids that came (to our Junior Day) last year, and every single kid signed D-I, and I think all but one or two signed BCS Division I," said IU's primary in-state recruiter Billy Lynch. "I'd guess that's unheard of (for the state of Indiana)."
Kiel Not Scared of a Little Competition
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