As far as Josh Hoover knows, he didn’t have any connection to Indiana when the Hoosiers started recruiting him and they didn’t have any connection to him or anyone around him.
“The way they found me, I think, is (offensive coordinator Nick) Sheridan was on Twitter and just happened to see something and looked at it,” Hoover told The Daily Hoosier. “We have no connection. None of my coaches know those guys at all. It just happened to be that we found each other.”
In Hoover, Sheridan found a Texas quarterback with a precise understanding of how to make plays in a spread offense and the arm to make every throw on the board. Hoover committed to Indiana on Tuesday, becoming the sixth member of Indiana’s Class of 2022 and the first one recruited on the offensive side of the ball.
Hoover threw for 3,556 yards and 36 touchdowns as a junior at Rockwall-Heath High School in Rockwall, Texas, leading the Hawks to an 11-3 record and a berth in the Class 6A, Division 2, Region 2 final before they lost to Cedar Hill 27-24 in overtime at Globe Life Park. He completed 63.4 percent of his passes this season and threw 12 interceptions against those 36 touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2019, he completed 188 of 307 passes for 2,926 yards and 32 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.
He also helped Rockwall Heath to the Class 6A Division 2 state baseball championship this season, playing third base and pitching, showcasing a fastball that he could pump up to 91 miles per hour and sit in the high 80s with.
The baseball success and the football success go hand-in-hand. Not only does it help Hoover’s arm strength, it also aids in his ability to throw on the run and at different arm angles. That reminds Rockwall-Heath’s coach of another Texas native quarterback who also grew up playing baseball.
“Some kids have the ability to make a throw from any position of their body if that makes sense,” Rockwall-Heath coach Mike Spradlin said. “That’s what sets him apart. I remember standing behind him, maybe the first practice I saw him between his freshman and sophomore year. And I remember thinking, ‘Wow, good grief.’ He threw it, I want to say, around a guy. It was a Patrick Mahomes-like thing. I’m going to say it. They’re different athletes, but their arm angles aren’t that different. I remember watching that throw on film and I stopped it and I said, ‘Who does that look like to y’all?’ And the first thing out of my quarterback coach’s mouth was, ‘Well, it looks like Mahomes.'”
And along with the physical ability, Hoover also has excellent mental acuity for the game as well.
“Everything about him is exactly what you’re looking for,” Spradlin said. “There’s literally not a throw on the football field that he can’t make. I’m talking deep ball, short ball, he gets the ball out of his hands so fast, but what really makes him special is he just gets it. He understands what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. He understands secondary play. When you have a kid who has talent like he does, and it’s tremendous, and then he’s a film room junkie, first guy in the meeting room, last guy out, and he has the knowledge of not just what we’re doing but what they’re doing, it makes for a really special player.”
However, when Sheridan first reached out to Hoover, the quarterback wasn’t being as intensely recruited as his stats might suggest, likely because he doesn’t have prototype size or elite level speed to go with the arm. Hoover, who is listed on 247Sports.com at 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, is a three-star recruit and rated the No. 528 player in the Class of 2022 according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He’s the No. 36 rated quarterback and the No. 74 player in the state of Texas. He has 19 reported scholarship offers, but other than Indiana, the only other Power 5 school to extend an offer was Arkansas, though Hoover suggested they did not show serious interest. In the state of Texas, he earned offers from Houston, Incarnate Word, North Texas, Southern Methodist and Texas San-Antonio, but nothing from any of the Big 12 schools in the state or Texas A&M.
Spradlin said that those schools were starting to notice Hoover and that they wanted to see him in camps this summer. It hurt Hoover’s case, obviously, that coaches weren’t able to see him in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Indiana was way ahead of the game and Hoover noticed.
“They were the only Power 5 school that recruited me,” Hoover said of Indiana. “They really recruited me hard. I just really liked the fit. Coach Sheridan is a great young guy, great play caller, and coach (Tom) Allen is obviously a great coach.”
Hoover said the fit is an easy one from a schematic perspective. In football-obsessed Texas, high schools have been ahead of the curve in teaching the spread offense for some time, so Hoover is already very familiar with the plays and the throws that a quarterback needs to make in that system.
The Hoosiers also run a spread system, as most college programs do at this point, so he expects much of what he has learned to translate.
“They have a really good system,” Hoover said. “It’s very similar in some ways to what we do in high school. I think it’s a great fit. It’s very quarterback friendly. That’s always a great thing. They have a lot of good concepts. They try to make it pretty simple for the quarterback to do. Obviously, there’s a lot you need to do to be able to play at that level. They put in a lot of different things formationally that make it look different.”
Hoover also said the fit was good from a cultural standpoint. He mentioned Allen’s Christian faith as a draw and also said he was impressed by Bloomington.
Thanks to the effect of COVID-19 on players’ eligibility, Hoover could be dealing with a lot of competition during the early part of his career. Since 2020 didn’t count against anyone’s eligibility and because quarterbacks Michael Penix and Jack Tuttle have already taken redshirt years, they still each have three years worth of eligibility remaining if they chose to use them, which could keep them on the roster through the 2023 season though they each began their careers in 2018. The Hoosiers also took quarterbacks in the 2020 and 2021 classes in Dexter Williams and Donaven McCulley. Williams will likely redshirt this year because of an ACL tear in the spring and if McCulley also takes a redshirt, both will still have four years of eligibility when Hoover arrives on campus.
So to compete, Hoover is planning to arrive on campus early, which means sacrificing what would be his senior baseball season. He’s also planning to make the most of his final year of high school football.
“I’ve really worked on footwork,” Hoover said. “And I’m going to work on my speed. That’s always something you have to work on. The more you play, the longer you play, you get quicker and faster and find ways to get that edge. I’m trying to clean up some things throwing wise, really focus in and really looking forward to perfecting my craft.”
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