Commitment from 4-star RB Sampson James proves Tom Allen's message is working for Indiana
Count me in. Whatever Tom Allen is selling, I’ll buy it.
Anyone who can walk into Columbus, lose a game to Ohio State by 23 and still pull one of the Buckeyes’ prized recruits out from underneath them must be a pretty good salesman. One with a clear and concise pitch.
Allen delivered that message following Indiana’s 49-26 loss to No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday evening in a fiery postgame speech.
“We weren’t gonna back down to anybody,” Allen said. “I wasn’t going to make them feel sorry for themselves. We’re gonna finish, we’re gonna look them in the eye, I want everybody shaking their hands and make sure we know we respect them but we’re coming back. We ain’t going nowhere. This program is working hard to be special. That ain’t gonna change.”
— Hoosier Huddle (@Hoosier_Huddle) October 7, 2018
A day later, 4-star running back and Avon, Indiana native Sampson James decommitted from Ohio State. The eighth-ranked ball-carrier in the 2019 class needed just a few hours to give his verbal pledge to Allen and the Hoosiers.
Indiana didn’t leave Columbus with a win on the scoreboard, but it did return home with a victory. It’s another reminder that Allen has every intention of developing a winning football culture in Bloomington.
Sunday wasn’t the first time Indiana has snagged a highly-touted prospect away from a blueblood program. In 2017, Allen flipped 4-star athlete Juwan Burgess from USC. With the latest recruiting class, the Hoosiers lured 3-star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. away from Florida State. And IU was able to keep Reese Taylor, the Player of the Year in Indiana, at home.
Winning those recruiting battles is a significant achievement for a program that hasn’t been north of seven wins in 30 years. It’s extraordinarily rare for players of that caliber to commit to a team that’s had three-times as many losing seasons as bowl appearances this decade.
That’s why I want in.
If one of the top running backs believes something special is happening at IU, maybe we should all hop aboard the bandwagon.
James’ flip from Ohio State to Indiana felt different than some of the previous recruiting victories. The Hoosiers suffered a 23-point loss to a team it hasn’t beaten since 1988. Somehow, it still stole the 4-star prospect.
Obviously there’s more to recruiting than wins and losses. James could’ve witnessed how effective Indiana’s offense was through the first half of Saturday’s game and felt he was the missing link. Or maybe he saw that the Hoosiers were in a dogfight through three quarters with one of the top programs in the country and believed he could get them over the hump. He might’ve seen the intensity of Allen’s postgame press conference and decided to play for one of the most passionate and animated coaches in the game.
Whatever James’ reason, it’s most certainly a byproduct of the culture Allen has built during his short stint in Bloomington.
Ohio State rolls in players of James’ ability by the barrel. So this weekend’s flip was more of a victory for Indiana than a loss for the Buckeyes. He was just another guy to Urban Meyer, but to Allen, James was the guy.
“If you’d have been anywhere near this block, you’d have heard me screaming,” Allen said when asked about his excitement about landing James. “And for quite a while.”
It’s that kind of enthusiasm and intensity that made the decision easier for James to stay home. Allen’s passion for Indiana is unrivaled, and it has been since Day 1. His pitch is direct and matter-of-fact. So far, he’s been the perfect salesman for the program.
James bought in. Now Allen has the guy who could help lead Indiana past Ohio State someday.