After the first eight win season in decades and a brief appearance in the AP Top 25, of course IU tore it up on the recruiting trail with its 2020 class, right?
The rankings tell a different story.
After a program best-ever No. 36 national team ranking with its class of 2019, the IU class of 2020 currently stands at No. 58 according to the 247Sports Composite.
Let’s just say these things don’t happen overnight.
While a smaller class size plays a marginal role in the drop in the rankings, head coach Tom Allen believes the biggest variable is simply timing.
“Moving forward was where you were going to see the bigger benefits of it (the success on the field),” Allen said. “A lot of the guys we had in this (2020) class were already either committed, or really, really bought into what we were doing before we had the season we had.”
The majority of Indiana’s 2020 class chose the Hoosiers before the 2019 season. They liked IU’s message, but after consecutive 5-7 seasons, they were taking the success part on faith.
But Indiana’s last seven commits in its 2020 class are some of its best in the group and include recruits like Damarjhe Lewis, Kahlil Benson and Tim Baldwin that the Hoosiers were able to pull away from the SEC and other top programs.
“I do think getting a young man like Kahlil, I think that (the success) was part of it,” Allen said. “I think he’d be able to talk about, not just to hear but to see, what we did being from that part of the country there where the SEC schools were heavily in contention for him.
“And so that allowed us, against an SEC team in that bowl game and the season we had. I think that was definitely a byproduct of that.”
Benson decommitted from Ole Miss and chose Indiana over Mississippi State and other SEC schools. Lewis decommitted from Auburn and had an offer from Florida State and other high profile programs. Baldwin decommitted from Michigan and had several other prominent offers.
The late influx of talent wasn’t enough to significantly move the needle on Indiana’s standing in the class rankings, but it may indicate where things are headed.
While Allen and his staff weren’t able to fully capitalize on their success with the 2020 class, he knows that the opportunity is now there.
“For sure moving forward with the ’21, ’22 class, those next two classes will be very important for us,” Allen said.
While Allen has brought in a lot of his roster from the South early in his tenure, he may not have to venture so far in the coming years.
The Hoosiers have the unusual luxury of having a lot of talent in their own backyard in the class of 2021.
There are 16 players from the state of Indiana ranked in the 247Sports’ top 1,000 players, and only four of them are committed. There were only six in-state players ranked that high in the 2020 class.
One of top in-state 2021 talents, defensive end Rodney McGraw (Elkhart Central), gave his verbal pledge to IU last week. The 6-foot-5 McGraw is a top-400 recruit that had several prominent offers including Michigan and Michigan State.
Riding a wave of momentum from the 2019 season, Allen intends to make a big in-state push and bring as much of that local 2021 talent as he can to Bloomington.
“Indiana will always be my first priority,” Allen said. “I want to get the best players out of Indiana to come to IU and be part of this and branch out from there.”
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