Early Signing Day Primer: What you need to know about Indiana's 2023 class
Note: All star ratings and all rankings are based on 247Sports and its composite rankings as of Tuesday morning, Dec. 20, unless otherwise indicated.
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If Indiana is to regain its footing, it’s unlikely to come through only high school recruiting.
The 2023 recruiting class, at least in terms of ranking, is likely to turn out the worst of Tom Allen’s 7 as the head coach at Indiana. And it’s not even really close. The Hoosiers’ 2023 class, as of Tuesday morning, included only 9 players, who combined to rank No. 88 in the country, according to 247Sports.com’s composite, and last in the Big Ten.
All 9 are 3-star commitments, per 247Sports, but the class is missing the marquee name (or names) that the program has frequently had in the past half dozen years during the Allen Era, when his groups have ranked between 30th and 62nd nationally. Last season, by comparison, had 22 players, including 4 4-stars. But consecutive sub-.500 seasons, including a 2-16 record in the Big Ten, has put a dent in Allen’s efforts.
Let’s further break down the class, which is expected to sign when the early period opens on Wednesday:
By the numbers
Overall rank: 88th
B1G rank: 14th
Highest-rated player: Safety, Amare Ferrell, 3-star
Of the 3-stars, Florida’s Amare Ferrell is at the top of the list.
The 6-2, 195-pounder also comes at a position — he could play safety or cornerback — that will need to be rebuilt during the offseason, following the graduation of a majority of the Hoosiers’ defensive backfield. Ferrell is a top-100 recruit in the deeply talented state of Florida, who picked the Hoosiers in the summer over Power 5 offers from Cincinnati, South Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee and reportedly others like Florida State and Miami.
Fellow defensive back Tyrik McDaniel might also lay claim to the most-highly regarded commitment. The 6-1, 200-pounder is the country’s 34th-ranked JUCO prospect — and 2nd safety, per 247 — and decided to come to Indiana earlier this month after also visiting East Carolina.
Did the Hoosiers bolster the QB room? Yes
Indiana started 6 different QBs in the past 2 seasons. It needs as much help as possible, from high school recruiting and/or the transfer portal. From Mars? Literally anywhere, especially with Dexter Williams II rehabbing from his season-ending knee injury.
So Ohio 3-star Broc Lowry, the 51st-ranked QB in the country, will at least add depth to position. And maybe he could even do more than that, as the position will likely go into the summer without a clear-cut No. 1. Lowry, a 6-3, 195-pounder, is a dual-threat quarterback, having led his Canfield High School team to a state championship as a senior. In the game, he had 285 total yards and 5 touchdowns: Passing for 1, rushing for 3 and receiving another.
Allen is likely still looking for veteran transfer help at quarterback, with Connor Bazelak, who started a majority of IU’s games last season, joining Jack Tuttle and Grant Gremel in the portal.
Best position group: Offensive line
Clearly, Indiana needs help on the offensive line.
It needs an upgrade now, which might come via the portal. But it also needs to look long-term, which will come via high school recruiting. And Allen has 3 3-stars as part of his 2023 recruiting class: Illinois OT Austin Barrett, a 6-7, 275-pounder, and interior linemen William Larkins, a 6-4, 300-pounder from Florida, and Tennessee’s Tyler Jeffries, a 6-5, 300-pounder.
It’s difficult to play from Day 1 as a freshman lineman, but Indiana needs a retool from top-to-bottom in its offensive line room and adding 3 rookies now — one-third of the entire class — will assist in years to come.
Biggest need filled: PK
There’s not a position on Indiana’s roster where it doesn’t have a need.
But after veteran kicker Charles Campbell decided to transfer to Tennessee, it became even more imperative that the Hoosiers find an immediate replacement. Good then that Texas native Nicolas Radicic, one of the most highly-regarded kicking prospects in the country, had already decided on the Hoosiers in the summer. He’ll now likely move up his timeline, with the expectation that he’ll kick starting next fall, rather than in 2024.
Radicic, who also punts, ranks as the No. 3 kicker in the country, per 247sports.com.
Biggest potential flip: Quarterback, Emory Jones
Highly-regarded quarterback Emory Jones won’t be a signee Wednesday, as the veteran is looking for his 3rd destination, after starting his career at Florida before transferring to Arizona State. But after having lost his starting job in the 2nd half of last season for the Sun Devils, Jones is on the move again.
A former top-100 recruit nationally in 2018, Jones visited Bloomington earlier this month, looking for a program where he could immediately become the starter. Last season, Jones started 7 games for Arizona State, finishing the season with 1,533 yards and 7 touchdowns with 4 interceptions.
The 2023 recruiting class won’t fix Indiana’s ailments.
The Hoosiers need more help — there are very few positions that IU feels comfortable right now — than 9 players can provide. Allen will hit the transfer portal hard now, looking for veteran help at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, on the offensive and defensive lines, at linebacker and in the secondary. Anywhere else?
But it’s critical Indiana add talent, even young talent, particularly on the offensive line and defensive backfield, and this class has accomplished those.