Bloomington – When Indiana football announces its 2010 recruiting class next February, fans can expect to see a few differences than in recent hauls.
First of all, the 2010 class figures to be a much larger class than the last several groupings. With a larger-than-normal number of scholarship seniors (17) this season coupled with the level of attrition that is present in just about every football program, the Hoosiers' class figures to be in the low-to-mid 20s by the time February rolls around.
On top of that, IU Coach Bill Lynch expects to dip into the junior college ranks more than in recent years. The larger number available of scholarships will allow the staff to still sign a core group of 18-20 high school players, but the Hoosier staff is taking a much closer look at the junior college ranks this spring and summer as well.
"We'll dabble in the junior college a little bit this year to try to replace some spots that we need," Lynch said. "I'm anxious to see how we're received and how that goes. How many (junior college recruits) is that? Maybe three or four."
Indiana already has one in cornerback Andre Kates, a 6'0", 193-pounder from Eric J.C. in Buffalo, N.Y. An immediate-impact type of recruit with a slew of high-major offers, Kates has classified his IU commitment as "soft" and is clearly still weighing other possibilities as well.
Whether or not Kates ends up in Bloomington or not, it's still a very good bet that there will be several junior college recruits that wind up inking with the Hoosiers. But before IU adds more two-year players to the 2010 list, Lynch wants to get a better feel for what his team's immediate needs will be in 2010.
To do that, he'll wait until after the start of fall camp when he'll be able to see exactly what he's got in the 19 scholarship players that make up the 2009 class. While Lynch and his staff have seen those players on film and in many cases during workouts at one-day camps, it's at fall camp when they'll be able to quickly decipher just how quickly they'll be ready to make an impact at the college level.
"It doesn't take long in fall camp to be able to tell of these 19 kids (who will be able to help quickly)," Lynch said. "You start going, ‘this guy might play as a freshman, this guy we'll redshirt and then he'll be ready, this guy is probably going to take two or three years to develop.'"
Once the staff is able to figure out which players will take a little longer to develop, then they can start prioritizing which positions to target at the junior college level. Lynch says it's important to wait until after the staff has been able to eye ball this year's class in fall camp before making that determination.
Last year is a perfect example of why it's best to wait to see exactly what you've got before deciding to hit the junior college ranks hard.
"With a guy like (offensive lineman Justin) Pagan, it took about a week to realize, that son of a buck is different – he was that good," Lynch said. "I wouldn't want to bring a JC kid in ahead of Justin Pagan right now. But this time last year, I wouldn't have said that about Justin Pagan or (No. 1 center) Will Matte, or maybe (Larry) Black, (Mick) Mentzer or (Nick) Sliger. At this time last year, we didn't know. You recruit them and think they can (play early), but you don't know until you see them."
That's what will make fall camp so important for members of the incoming freshman class. While most of them might not be ready to be contributors as true freshmen, the IU staff will be looking at them closely to see if they'll be ready in 2010. If they don't show signs of being ready after a redshirt season, then their position could be a candidate for a junior college recruit.
"That's when you can say, this guy isn't going to be ready next year, we better get a JC linebacker, we better get a JC offensive lineman, we better get a JC safety. Maybe a JC wide receiver would be good," Lynch said.
"It's better to wait for camp and see what you've got than (to do it) now. If the 19 kids come in and a bunch of those guys are going to be ready that next year, then you don't need a JC guy at that spot."
IU Football To Hit Junior College Ranks
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