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Recruiting prospects looking up for IU football

Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at 3:39 PM

The Indiana Hoosiers football team showed some marked improvement on the offensive side of the ball during the 2012 season, but the defense has left fans wanting in recent years. Saturday's contest against Purdue was a prime example of the embarrassing results that piled up down the stretch for the Hoosiers.

After back-to-back wins over Illinois and Iowa left IU in control of its own destiny in pursuit of a trip to the Big 10 Championship game, the Hoosiers gave up 62, 45 and 56 points in losses to Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue to finish the season.

Clearly, work needs to be done in practice, the weight room and on the recruiting front.

At least the Hoosiers seem to be making some noted inroads as far as recruiting is concerned as IU has made a bit of a splash around the state with some surprising commitments over the last several months.

Christmas might be coming a bit early for the coaching staff and Hoosier fans alike.

The most recent high profile commitment came from Indianapolis North Central defensive tackle Darius Latham. The 6-5, 290-pound defensive tackle is a four-star (out of five) recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 73 recruit in the country by 247sports.com and the No. 7 offensive tackle. After previously committing to Wisconsin over the summer, Latham reopened his recruitment and chose the Hoosiers on a visit over the weekend.

With the Hoosiers graduating three defensive tackles, Latham has a chance at making an immediate impact when he arrives in the summer. He's also a four-year starter on a very strong basketball program and has shown some interest in walking on to the IU basketball team as well.

Perhaps even more impressive is that the Hoosiers beat out the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Iowa, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma for his commitment.

Latham is part of a trend that saw him become the 14th commitment for Indiana in the Class of 2013 and the fifth from in-state.

In October, Pike standout pass rusher David Kenney committed to the Hoosiers after de-committing from Iowa and his ability could be sorely needed next season. While IU displayed a much better rush than in 2011, the Hoosiers could certainly use more depth on the line and Kenney provides an explosive burst that should help him in the run game as well.

As a junior, Kenney had 12 sacks and he added double-digit sacks as a senior as well.

Kenney also had offers from top programs including Nebraska, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Louisville and West Virginia.

On Aug. 9, Ben Davis safety Antonio Allen gave the Hoosiers their first jewel of the recruiting class when he backed off his commitment to Ole Miss and the four-star prospect made national headlines by coming into the IU fold.

A 5-10, 205-pound safety, Allen is the No. 6 player in the state and is the 26th ranked player nationally at his position. As a junior, Allen had 114 tackles and six pass break-ups. He's considered one of the hardest hitting defenders in the state and the Hoosiers could use plenty of that in a secondary that routinely got torched. He also benches 320 pounds and squats 400 pounds while running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.

While landing the in-state prospects has been a boon for Wilson, a commitment from Georgia's Rashard Fant of Fairburn Our Lady of Mercy was also a huge get for the Hoosiers, who beat out Florida State for the services of the potential secondary athlete.

Clearly, head coach Kevin Wilson has begun to reap some of the same benefits that IU basketball coach Tom Crean enjoyed a couple of years ago when his early commits began to help recruit players through Twitter and in person. Kenney helped recruit Latham and in-state commits like Fort Wayne Homestead wide receiver Isaac Griffith (18th ranked prospect in Indiana) and Brownsburg safety Chase Dutra, the 20th ranked Indiana prospect also joined the fray in spreading the word about the IU program to other players with offers.

According to Rivals.com, the Hoosiers had landed just one four-star player since 2002, linebacker Zach Shaw from Ohio in 2011. The Class of 2013 currently contains five four-star players, which in itself is keeps IU amongst the newsworthy stories as Signing Day approaches this winter.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell agreed in a recent article on the site.

"Getting five four-star players to Indiana would be among the best low-profile stories in the history of our rankings," he said. "I don't mean to downplay what is happening, and low-profile isn't an insult, but that is still a relatively small number when we get to National Signing Day and start talking about USC, Alabama; the Top 5. However, the fact anyone would even be talking about Indiana on Signing Day, and we will be, is a story in itself."



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