With his team on a bye week and riding a four game winning streak, it was time for IU football head coach Tom Allen and his coaching staff to kick back and relax, right?
If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know better than that.
The free time and run of success only meant one thing in the mind of the Hoosiers’ high energy man in charge.
Go out and capitalize.
A significant theme during IU’s turnaround season has been the young talent that Allen has brought in the door since being named the head coach three years ago. With no opponent to game plan for last week, it was time to go out and secure the next wave.
“Most of the staff went out Wednesday afternoon and we all recruited the rest of the weekend,” Allen said at his regular Monday press conference about the bye week.
Although Allen has been a successful recruiter without a proven track record as a head coach, this past week his staff was able to hit the trail with a little wind in their sails.
“Very positive with recruiting coming off of our last four,” Allen added.
The Hoosier head coach was asked on Monday if he has seen a positive impact from the on the field success when he talks to recruits.
“I think without question it’s been extremely positive,” Allen said. “It’s always fun to go out and get in schools when you’ve got good, positive momentum, doing good things, playing to a certain level. It keeps coming back, everybody comments how hard we play, finish games out. They’re noticing all those things.”
While Allen has had success with recruits and their families by delivering on a genuine and positive message, at some point there had to be results on the field.
Commits in Allen’s early recruiting classes bought in based on faith more so than anything tangible.
But without wins, eventually doubts would creep in, as would questions about job security, which can be a death knell in the recruiting world.
Instead, Indiana is 7-2, and ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 1994.
“Everything we say we are in recruiting is who we are. When you have success on the field, you are doing the things you talked about doing in recruiting, definitely momentum is high right now. It’s a very positive thing, Allen said.
“That’s the part that makes it really important. As I message recruits, I say, Hey, we’re doing everything we said we were going to do.”
Perhaps no one on Indiana’s roster is a better ambassador of not only believing in the program’s message but also delivering on it than true freshman cornerback Tiawan Mullen. The Florida product hasn’t hesitated to stick his neck out and say that his class would be a group that brought long awaited change to Bloomington.
A high profile recruit in the class of 2019, Mullen was guaranteed nothing when he arrived on campus and was a few rungs down the depth chart to open the season.
Now Mullen is starting and making big plays. He forced one fumble and recovered another against Northwestern, and he leads the team by a wide margin with seven pass breakups.
“Tiawan is doing everything he said he was going to do, Allen said.
“I just think that guys like Tiawan, the way he bought in, just came with that confidence. Some corners are really chirpy guys. Not a lot of that (with him). He believes it in the core. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but his play has been at a high level. … I just think that is contagious without question. It’s just a really, really awesome thing to see a guy that is humble yet works his absolute tail off every single day, infecting guys around him in a positive way. It’s pretty cool.”
2020 RECRUITING CLASS BEING FINALIZED
With just 13 seniors on the roster, Indiana doesn’t have a lot of room for a big 2020 recruiting class.
The Hoosiers presently have 14 verbal commits in 2020, and Allen indicated on Monday that he only has room for maybe four or five more.
“I think it’s not going to be a very big class. We don’t have a lot of seniors, Allen said.
“I think upper teens numerically is where you’re looking at. O-line, D-line we’re still working on some spots there. Skill guy or two here and there. Other than that, we won’t have room. You can only replace within the 85 of what you lose.”
Indiana’s in-process 2020 class is currently ranked No. 63 according to the 247Sports Composite. That would be a significant step back from back-to-back record setting class rankings for IU. The Hoosiers’ 2019 group was a program best No. 37 according to 247Sports.
With the current momentum, Allen might have the program in a position to bump up the 2020 class ranking with some late high profile commitments.
As an example, recruiting service 247Sports is reporting ($) that Arizona four star defensive end Jason Harris (ranked No. 188 nationally) has scheduled an official visit to IU after not initially including the Hoosiers in his final six list of schools.
Even with a strong finish, the relatively small class size might prevent IU from reaching last year’s standard. But the tide may be turning again for Allen and his Hoosiers.
The college football early signing period begins on Dec. 18.
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