Coach Wilson Discusses Signing Class
Feb. 5, 2014
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head football coach Kevin Wilson met with the media Wednesday aftertoon to discuss the signing of 26 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play for the Hoosiers in 2014.
A reasonable class as far as finishing. I think you know the transition of losing some coaches. We were actually one coach down. We still have a coach to hire. We went all the way through the process without a guy. Four on defense and four on O, and myself. I thought we battled pretty good and overcame the coaching transition. I don't think we had hiccups because of that. Sometimes you can. That was good.
I think on paper we have 12 on O, a couple of offensive guys that can go to D, because they are reasonably skilled kid, for the most part, and are guys on paper that might look good. We've got to do a great job of developing and weight room and coaching and two, three, four, five years down the road we can get them. It's a longer group of kids, more range, length and size. Potentially guys that can play a little faster and bigger on the field and make us more competitive.
Twelve on offense. And I think that's six of those guys were midyear, that wasn't by design, that's just how it worked out. The six guys, six spots are all we had. I do think it's good to have offensive linemen here. We didn't sign any last year. It takes time to develop those guys, spring guy, winter conditioning, summer, is awesome. I think Jordan Fuchs is a great prospect. And Diamont, and Dominique Booth, we lose a couple, three receivers. A lot of guys back, a little hit there. I think having him, I think that really bodes for hopefully some continuity two years down 18 months, 24 months from now we don't have the voids, hopefully we're ahead of the game.
The offense recently had more depth and competition. This year with the 14 that are potentially defensive players, that we can enhance the competition and the ability to make plays on the defensive side. So three, four, five D-line type bodies, a couple three outside backers, a couple, three inside backers. Four or five DBs that can play corner safeties. A bigger kid that can run. We like those guys.
I thought our staff did a good job. I thought our kids on campus did a great job. It's getting easier to recruit. We come in town it's a better vibe, hotels, and they like us, and the restaurants we go to. There's a good vibe from our student section and the fans we've got. It's a lot more positive. And I think it's year three going into four, we've got stronger relationships with the kids and coaches. We're doing a good job. We got a few, lose a few, but it was a good day, good class and excited to move forward with these guys.
Q. Can you talk about Donovan Clark?
HEAD COACH WILSON: You know, he's playing basketball now, has been a heck of a baseball player, too. He's a quarterback. Does a lot for them. I think he could be a receiver type I think he's going to be a corner. He's developing, he's getting some size to him. He's a little bit smaller than some of our other DBs, but he plays with physical presence. He runs hard. When he comes up to hit you he's aggressive and assertive. He's not tentative. I think he's an all-around athlete. I think he's not maybe as long as some of these guys, but very, very fast. And for a guy that's in the 5 10, 175 pound range, a very physical kid. Excited to have him.
Q. It's my understanding that due to the status of the January enrollees you could have taken as many as 28 if you had chosen to do so. Are there still a couple of scholarships open if some academic issues work out for kids down the road?
HEAD COACH WILSON: Each year we got Stephen Houston late, next year it was Timmy Bennett. Turned out pretty good. Last year we signed a guy who did not make it and we took Nate Hoff who is going to be a nice D-lineman. There's always guys that come around late, potential that could be used for this early graduates, if there's a guy that wants to graduate and he's appealing, and one of these guys finished school in three or four years, if you have a void, we'll take our time on that. See how that plays out.
The other thing, too, if you don't use all the spaces, then you can use them next year and count midyear and count backwards, and that's how sometimes you can sign a few more than you have. We'll see how it goes. There's no rush, and there's nothing I don't know eminent, I don't see. I don't think we're going to rush judgment, there's potential for a few more.
Q. With the addition of Coach Knorr, did you change your approach in terms of what kind of defensive player to recruit over the past month or so?
HEAD COACH WILSON: I don't think so, as much as we were it wasn't designed, but we were able to get him in here on a Saturday night late with 14 defensive prospects on campus that Saturday, Sunday. We got to eyeball, meet a lot of guys, put body types, see them. From there we were able to see Tony Fields on Tuesday, Donovan Clark on Sunday night. I think only one DB that we went after we didn't see. And Coach Inge, and Coach McDaniel getting in. It wasn't perfectly planned but a lot of the offensive guys had admitted, defense hadn't, there was work to be done. I think he was able to recruit Georgia very hard at Wake Forest, we stumbled into a couple of guys there. But very, very impressed. I think he's done a nice job of just connecting those guys very well. And they've done a great job of team recruiting as a defensive staff. We had a four way phone call, but these iPhones let you do that, it was kind of amazing to get everybody to be quiet so somebody could talk. They did a great job from a team recruiting side and a great job of leading the charge.
Q. Who are the guys you got on after he joined the staff?
HEAD COACH WILSON: You know, I had another contact that got us into one guy, but he knew the coach. We recruited a kid from his high school last year. And he knew the coach, that helped. The Walton kid from Carver is a guy that he went down to see. Robert McCray was a guy that he went down to see with coach Inge as well, as with Derrian Meminger, might be missing another guy, but a couple of guys we went after that didn't work out.
Q. You obviously went after receivers a lot, how do you feel about that?
HEAD COACH WILSON: I think we've got some good young ones to work with. I wanted to try to get a little size. To get Simmie Cobbs late and Dominique in kind of late in midyear is good, they're physically more mature, bigger guys. Not that that means they're better, but a couple of those guys you lose some size and length out there, which is one of their fortes. Again, J Shun is very dynamic, loved him at camp. Potential to be similar to the guy that plays for us now, but we'll see if he is. Coming out of high school he's similar, maybe has some things a little farther along. Coray Keel, a guy under the radar, but a bigger, 6 2 ish, shows up in the 190's, gives us a little size.
With the young guys we've got at receiver, I thought we were more in that 5 11, 6 foot, 180, 190 range for find a few more. When you recruit everybody says how many O-linemen are you taking, only one guy like this guy that's playing center, all those bodies are taking 4 DBs. They're all different bodies. And I think we've got some of the bodies that hopefully will fit some of the voids we might have.
Q. What were you looking for in your receivers?
HEAD COACH WILSON: Just some size. For example I think Shane Wynn can be a nice outside player. He's a good player. And sometimes the inside guy, little guy is a good route runner matchup. He's not a good blocking matchup because of those linebackers. There are gives and takes. I thought we needed more size on defense and perimeter, backers, and safeties and corners, more size, more length, more speed. I thought the same thing at receiver, just a little bit more in the basketball world we weren't taking point guards, we were trying to get those power forward guys.
Q. I know things can change, is there any position for next year's class that you guys are looking at we need to get some guys here?
HEAD COACH WILSON: I'm not sure. I think we've got 16, 17, 18 seniors. Last year we started, this year we had 18 similar ships, and it goes to potentially 28, whether it be early graduates and medicals and whatnot. So I don't know, sometimes the numbers determine that. I think we're getting when I looked at our numbers, our class, we started looking at 17 or 18 seniors to be, 17 or 18 juniors to be. We're getting a little balanced and hopefully we can start need based instead of having a void.
We took a gamble not taking any offensive linemen last year, but we only had one senior, and didn't lose any of our starters this year. So moving forward I think we're going to start to have some continuity. If you had 18 scholarships, eight or nine on O, eight or nine one D, a little bit of both. I think it will be reasonably well rounded.
Q. With so many kids flipping commitments these days, how much of a challenge does that put on you and your staff right until the end?
HEAD COACH WILSON: It's real hard. It's the hardest thing. We talk about rules, like one of the comments that's made, we have earlier visit dates. I don't know if we need to have earlier visit dates, because kids are getting around. With technology you can see and make your decisions. But I wish we had that early signing day like basketball did. You've got guys committing in June. And the 12th hour, this weekend, say you don't want to come, you've been holding off people. As a program, if you do that, hey, I've got you, I call you as the high school coach and say I can't take you now, this one is a little bit better for me, it's a tough deal. But the kids have to protect themselves. I understand that. You've got coaching changes. So all of a sudden you lose a guy, there's a ripple effect, and the water keeps moving around.
The last few days have been a free for all, it's been hectic. It's been hanging on for dear life. Some of the stories kids hear. You come back, if you do a good job of recruiting, hope there's enough trust and relationship where you can weather the storm. In the end it always works out and you get probably who you're supposed to coach. And hopefully you do a nice job of evaluating those guys. I don't have a hard time if a guy doesn't want to come, it's his choice. Sometimes you worry about the effect. Sometimes those guys took an opportunity from someone else.
I actually had a kid in my office wanted go to commit. I said, well, I know I've got a spot, but then a week later that spot wasn't there anymore because he changed his mind, and the guy that wanted to commitment he was a little offended and went on down the road. If you knew how it was going to play out you could have covered your bases. It's tough. But it is what it is. Thank goodness it's two or three weeks after Christmas and not four or five or six. I'd love to get into an early signing day. That way if a kid didn't want to sign you know he's not committed. And now you're not saving a spot for them. There will be teams today having four, five, six commitments for next year already. It seems if we could have an August 1 or September 1 day it might help you. It's a lot of fun. I'm not going to complain about it, because we're recruiting on paper, and we've got to take this paper product and produce on the field.
Q. You talk about two running backs, two pretty good prospects, what do you like from Tommy and Devine?
HEAD COACH WILSON: We had Devine in camp and Coach McCullough had a strong feel from him a year ago, had him as a young kid. Transition from one high school to another, and wasn't able to play a few games, started the season up at Glenville. But really liked him as a person. It's going to be a little bit more exact, physical guy. Got some substance, running through things.
I think Tommy, not that you're trying for similar traits to Tevin, a little more speed, rangy. Both a little different. At the same time you're looking at D'Angelo is going to be a senior and really you've only got two proven players there right now. And you see what's coming on behind. You haven't seen that yet to know what you've got from Laray and Miles. So again we can't wait a year from now. I think having those two guys the reason we took two is you didn't want to walk away from one of them. One guy is good, but when Derrian committed early, when Tommy wanted to get when I saw those guys, I want that guys, I like this guy. And we didn't get him down early, just didn't work out and he made a commitment somewhere else, but we were able to weather the storm and hang in there. And I think a coaching change there hurt their situation and helped us. That's some of the unfortunate deals with the dynamics. And you guys are trying to scoop every story, Twitter everything out and you're killing us guys trying to recruit. Everybody trying to get the first scoop of who went where. Between the kids' Twitters and your Twitters, it's hard. Like the guys that Twitter out where they go, do you think it's good? It's like, is that good or bad? You're juggling it's a tough dynamic. And not slighting you guys do a great job. The more you cover our recruiting the better it goes to us. I love it. But it makes it hard down the end with all the flipping back and forth, because everybody knows everybody's business.
Q. How many of these kids that you signed were in one of your camps?
HEAD COACH WILSON: Good question. I've got to look at it. 13.
Q. Did any kids that came to your camp, were they going some place else and then you got them at the end?
HEAD COACH WILSON: I think some of the guys were rolling kind of early. The Midwest recruiting goes extremely fast. Which I'm leery of. We're making offers to juniors to build relationships not to get the early commitment. Let's get to know each other to make sure it's a good fit. The Midwest, you've got to get them to junior days, and basketball days because by June they want to be done. Everybody gets the last minute feelings and they start changing their mind come January or February.
The southern states they play later, the south is maybe a little more laid back, but it goes slower, and those kids are sitting around in December and January. We really target early up here, and that being said the camp is a part of getting them and a lot of these guys commit early because they're a little bit more Midwest oriented. It did help us with Conyers, having him from camp from Georgia is one of them.
Q. How hard is to recruit emotional maturity? Maybe you have a kid that's skilled but he's not mature enough? Are you able to evaluate that or do you have to wait to get a sense of that?
HEAD COACH WILSON: It's tough. Like I have one visit. And so I get one visit. I don't get a spring visit. Head coaches aren't allowed to go. So I have one visit. Most of my visits by the time December and January come, are almost formalities and cordial, because he's already committed. And you want to go see a junior, as I was going and doing the last few weeks I couldn't talk to them. I had juniors calling me today. If you can't get them on campus, because it's hard. You've got to sit down, build those relationships, get them talking. The phone works both ways. Hopefully these guys calling plans are good enough so they can do it. You try to send a bunch of Facebook messages to create conversations and get them to talk to you.
It's hard to get to know people. That's the hardest thing. Evaluating someone's character and evaluating their work ethic and the type of kid they are, that's the hardest thing. If you're doing a good job, I made a comment to our staff, if you show me someone that's on schedule I'll show you a bad recruiter. You've got to hang around, I like this dude, let's talk to this English teacher, how is he doing? He hasn't turned in three assignments. What's up here? He's the best kid I have in class, everybody here loves him. Let's hang around for workouts.
You've got to do a lot of work. We had four weeks, and two or three days recruiting in December, January. That was it. We've got 42 days to go out in the fall and see a game, and you can't even talk to them. Their ability to get on campus, your ability to get around them, it's hard. And that's where the mistakes are made. And when we do our visits here, when guys come in, we structure our visits where the biggest thing they do is spend time with our team. And we start recruiting our team, or visit with our team, does he fit into our locker room? Is he going to be a good addition? And we had a couple of times that we've had guys say coach, I'd be a little leery here, I'm not sure you're going to like him. We put a lot of stock in that. Because I think we've gotten to a point where our kids understand what we're looking for and what we want.
That's a hard thing, though.
Q. You had supposedly the highest recruited, highest rated recruiting class last year ever. I'm not asking you what this year is rated at. How do you compare the feeling you have about this class compared to last year?
HEAD COACH WILSON: There are similarities. Last year there's quote on paper names that give you more splash. I think this class has got a little bit more depth, a little bit more quality through it. And there's good kids. I think there's a lot of potential. I think we hit on some areas we needed. Of course no one is going to sit here today and say it's a bad class. As we're trying to build I think we've made good strides the last few years in the profile of the player we are going after. I think our kids and staff are identifying the type of people we want that fit into our program and I think upgrading the skills set. I think it's pretty good.
Q. One third of this class is from Florida or Georgia. Has that just been a real shift in your focus or did it just kind of happen that way?
HEAD COACH WILSON: We had nine last year, from those states. To me, you've got our state, and we're going to try real hard, and we've identified a bunch from next year, and trying to build those relationships and have every year. We don't get them all, don't like them all, but we're trying. I appreciate the way the coaches and our guys are interacting with our state. It's going really, really strong. Five hours, you've got Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, the edge of Cleveland, Louisville, Lexington. And five hours from Indy. If you draw a circle and go around, a lot of population, a lot of good football. Seven out of Ohio. Last year it was four or five. We've always ventured in there. Four or five, six, seven every year out of Indy. So we're going to get 10, 12, 13, 14 in the Midwest. And when you go to Atlanta you've got the fourth largest alumni base, because of the Kelley School of Business. And metro Atlanta. Indianapolis, one, Chicago, two, New York City, three, and then Atlanta, four. You've got an easy drive until you get to Columbus. You don't have that one little two lane road. Other than that you can hump it. It's drivable.
When you go into Florida recruiting there's always Midwest values in Florida, because of all the coaches and/or families that have moved, coming down I 75 or 95, down into Florida, whether it be to live, retire, vacation, whatever. So to me the Big Ten is always well received. And I think all of our schools do well this Florida. We check on a Texas kid, Oklahoma kid, a Cali kid. Two or three years in a row we've got on a New York kid. It will it would be interesting with added with Rutgers, we looked harder in Philly. Or South jersey. We'll see if maybe that DC area, it's heavily recruited in good players. You pick your spots. Atlanta and Florida is very well received I think by our school. I think by several Big Ten schools, as well. And we've got good ties. Coach Knorr recruited there very hard in Georgia. Coach Frey from Clearwater, Florida. So we've got we all have a regional we all have a state area, a regional area, and then we all kind of have an added area for our responsibilities.
Q. How quickly did things develop with Derrian Meminger?
HEAD COACH WILSON: We went down two weeks ago and we found out about him when we were doing home visits with Conyers and those guys there. Actually Coach McDaniel I had plans that got me back to Indy, he stayed around to meet him, verify grades, do you like him? Then we tried really hard to get him in last weekend on a visit. And then he took a visit where it didn't work out. We have Big Ten meetings. I didn't want to wait past this weekend, because of all your Twitter secrets. We said, hey, if you like him, and talk to him enough on the phone, we offered him and signed him because I felt we needed one more D-line body. Very athletic, a lot of upside. Playing very, very good competition. He's played against the love joy teams, where some of these guys were recruiting at. It's a good brand of ball. I talked to several coaches that worked with him at Georgia's camp, that I had ties with coaches there. Liked him on tape. And Coach McDaniel and Coach Knorr visited him and liked him as a person. We wanted him up here last week. And it didn't work out. I didn't want to go past it, because I thought it would be good to take one more D-lineman in our class, especially because of the extra numbers that we have.
Q. With Coach Knorr, when you look at the guys you had, how do they fit?
HEAD COACH WILSON: Well, again, hopefully if he's able to do it, he'll be able to adjust and adapt to what he's got. I think a guy really understands concepts and personnel and how to tag people, you're multiple if you can do it, but when you got an ability to adjust, and you've got to do what your kids can do. We're in the process right now, again, that's why we were out this morning having workouts with our coaches there, really for he and Coach McDaniel to start gauging the players they have. And we're trying to do that and fit our recruiting class into it. I think a couple of those D-linemen, again, to me, whether you're playing inside the guard or you're an A gap player, B gap player, I think a good coach can adjust, hopefully he can. We didn't have a style we were going after, but we wanted bigger, longer, faster dudes. And I think in every position we did, I think we're bigger at linebacker than we've been. I think it fits the Big Ten. First word in Big Ten is big. You've got to be big. We've got to get bigger. Signing a 200 pound corner that can run is big for us. We've been playing at 175, 180 pounds. When the backs come around the corner, that's 230 pounds coming at you. I think we were looking for guys that could run and a little more length and growth potential to take up space. And I think we accomplished that.
Q. On Gooch and McCray:
HEAD COACH WILSON: Yeah, and those are big backers, and also guys both guys are about the size of David Kenney. You stand and look at their bodies, they're not a whole lot different, one guy's fingers go a little farther out in reach. When you look at frame, size, so you've got guys that stand up and play inside backer. One of them played tailback. Saw on his videotape. If you Google him up. He's playing high school tailback. So you've got some 245, 50 pound guys, you're big, 6 2. And they've yet to, quote, lift, start lifting. So maybe some of those guys end upturning 75, 80 pound tackles, you never know. Pick No. 4 of the draft this year was a 6 6, 240-pound quarterback, and he's playing for the Eagles. You've got guys that can move and are long. I know they're good defensive players, hopefully they'll be backers. A couple of safeties are 6 foot 2, 3, they might be 230, 35 playing backer. You're not projecting that. The way they eat, grow, nutrition, lifting. We've got more speed, more length and there's potential and we'll see how we'll develop those guys. Two or three years down the road it might be nice to see, where last year's class and this year's class, to see if we can grow and start playing competitive defense.
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