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Indiana, Purdue trying to rebuild through new recruits

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

Purdue hopes more than a dozen Florida recruits will rebuild its program.

Indiana is banking on more than a half-dozen homegrown recruits.

And Ball State believes a second straight bowl trip helped attract enough talent to build on its recent success.

Whatever the rationale, the three Indiana schools believe they filled enough holes during Wednesday's national signing day to improve next season.

"We like their athleticism, competitiveness and play-making ability and, most of all, we like them as people," new Purdue coach Danny Hope said. "Your first recruiting class is important, and I'm pleased with what we accomplished."

Hope wasted no time in making a dramatic shift from the recruiting tactics of the past decade.

Longtime coach Joe Tiller often scoured Texas and Indiana for talent, while Hope went decidedly to the Southeast. The result: He plucked 14 of 20 newcomers from Florida.

Hope added two more recruits from Georgia and one from Kentucky, though he did not sign a single player from Indiana. Three recruits -- linebackers Dwayne Beckford and Antwon Higgs and running back Al-Terek McBurse -- signed in January.

Among the biggest finds were linemen Trevor Foy, from Louisville, and Kevin Pamphile, of Miami; defensive tackle Brandon Taylor, of Aventura, Fla.; and McBurse of Winter Springs, Fla.

Clearly, Hope likes what the Sunshine State products offer.

"We have a lot of relationships in Florida," Hope said. "There are a lot of kids down there who would love to be a Big Ten player and who can have an immediate impact."

But Hope did follow one Purdue tradition. He signed two more quarterbacks, Rob Henry of Ocala, Fla., and Najee Tyler of Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch took a different tack.

Of the 18 newcomers he signed, eight come from Indiana and nine are from bordering states -- five from Ohio and two each from Michigan and Illinois. Offensive lineman Colin Rodkey, who is from western Pennsylvania, was the only player outside the immediate geographic area to sign with the Hoosiers.

Clearly, that fit the philosophy Lynch established when he took over as the fulltime coach in June 2007. He now has 46 instate players on next season's roster, 43.8 percent of the team.

"We are Indiana University, and I think there's great high school football played in the state of Indiana," Lynch said. "That's where we want to start it off. They have to be good enough to play Big Ten football for you, and they've got to fit a need you have. But without a doubt we want to build this thing with Indiana kids."

The most notable name on Indiana's list was Dusty Kiel, the Columbus East quarterback who is the nephew of former Notre Dame and Colts quarterback Blair Kiel. He committed before the high school season began in August.

Lynch also got Mr. Football runnerup Nick Zachery, who led Sheridan to three state titles, and receiver Duwyce Wilson, Kiel's teammate.

Indiana's focus, however, was adding linemen. Lynch took four on offense, none shorter than 6-foot-4 or lighter than 270, and two on defense.

And the class has a distinctly familiar and athletic makeup.

Seventeen of the recruits played at least two sports in high school, and among the more familiar names to Hoosiers fans are defensive lineman Adam Replogle, brother of Indiana linebacker Tyler Replogle, and defensive lineman Javon Cornley, brother of Penn State basketball player Jamelle Cornley.

Indiana also signed two quarterbacks, Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker, a conference rival of Kiel's at Jeffersonville. Both played in spread offenses, similar to what Indiana runs, and Lynch believes each could compete for the starting job early in their careers despite having last year's starters, Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell, back this fall.

"It's going to play itself out," Lynch said of the quarterbacks. "There's open competition, but certainly nothing was guaranteed in the recruiting. We're going to let them compete and we'll see what happens."

Ball State, the only Indiana school to reach bowl games the past two seasons, wanted speed.

New coach Stan Parrish think he's got that in his 22-man class, which includes all 18 players who committed to Ball State before Brady Hoke left for San Diego State in December.

Parrish, the offensive coordinator under Hoke, kept things in line with recent Ball State teams. Fourteen of the signees play offense, including four running backs.

The Cardinals' biggest void next season will be replacing quarterback Nate Davis, who declared early for the NFL draft last month. Yet Parrish signed only one quarterback, Aaron Mershman of Bowling Green, Ohio, and he's already enrolled in school.

But Parrish, like Lynch and Hope, thinks he's filled the Cardinals' biggest need.

"One of our goals was to increase our team speed at the skill positions, and we believe we were able to get that accomplished," he said. "We have a lot of positive momentum going, and this class will help continue the progress this program has made."



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