A year after pulling together the best recruiting class in program history during the rankings era, the raw numbers don’t paint a pretty picture for 2023.
Not so far, anyway. Or at least not at first blush.
After picking up a commitment from offensive lineman Tyler “Bubba” Jeffries on Tuesday, Indiana has eight commits in its 2023 class. According to 247Sports, that’s five less 2023 commits than anyone else in the Big Ten.
Taken at face value, those are numbers that could send a seemingly always skeptical fan base into a panic.
Did a 2-10 season squash IU’s recruiting momentum? Has the name, image and likeness era relegated the program to the back of the line?
With early signing day still more than four months away, it’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions about how IU’s 2023 class will turn out, let alone the factors that contributed to the outcome.
But one thing we can already safely assume is IU won’t close the commit gap with the rest of the Big Ten on a pure numbers basis. The Hoosiers simply don’t have the room on next year’s roster.
“It’s not going to be a big class,” head coach Tom Allen said on Tuesday morning in Bloomington. “So I think right where we are is kind of where we thought we would be. We got several positions where we’re taking one, and you want to be really, really selective with that process.
“It’s not going to be a big class. Because of that, the charge has been let’s be very deliberate, very slow with this, and let’s make sure we get the ones that we want for sure.”
A quick check of the average player rating does back up what Allen is saying. When you look at a quality over quantity, IU’s current 2023 class takes on a different look.
While the 247 rankings say IU’s class is No. 67 in the nation and last in the Big Ten based on quantity, based on average player rating the Hoosiers have secured the eighth most talented group of players in the Big Ten thus far.
Allen says Indiana will only take about 12 to 15 commits in the 2023 class in total, or only about four to seven more than the group they’ve secured so far. That’s quit a bit different than the 22 IU signed in the 2022 class, not to mention the 13 they picked up from the transfer portal.
This year on their roster the Hoosiers only list 14 players who will have exhausted all of their college eligibility after this season. Every other team on the Big Ten already has at least 13 commits, so IU will continue to look like it has a relatively poor class from a pure quantity perspective — and that’s the primary driver of the headline numbers in the rankings.
Indiana’s average player rating is down year-over-year, from 87.77 in 2022 to their 86.70 thus far with the 2023 group. But that’s not nearly as significant of a margin as the drop from last year’s headline No. 25 class to their current No. 67 ranking. This year’s 86.70 average player ranking would have been good enough for a top-50 class a year ago based on the quality measure.
Allen intends to continue to focus on making sure the program gets it right on the small group they ultimately welcome to Bloomington next year.
“If you’re taking three or four (at a position) it’s one thing,” Allen said. “You’re taking one, that becomes really, really critical. So I know the way it’s evaluated and the way it’s graded is based on numbers, numbers, rewards, so it’s not going to be — just being very blunt with you, it’s probably not going to be what it’s been this last year numerically because of that variable right there.
“But that’s okay. We got a lot of positions where we got a lot of guys coming back. I think that the ones where you have the higher numbers, you can just do the math with the guys that will be graduating and those areas that have to be replaced.”
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