Quarterback commit used to up-tempo offense
It was only a piece of the puzzle.
The Decatur Central High School senior-to-be knew he wanted to major in business. Comfort with his teammates and coaching staff was also near the top of his priority list.
And he wanted a chance to compete for playing time early in his collegiate career.
After he sorted through his 14 football scholarship offers, he decided IU provided the most complete picture.
“When it came down to it, all the pieces fit,” Stevens said. “I couldn’t tell you one bad thing about IU.”
The 6-foot-3, 196-pound recruit is the No. 15 nationally ranked quarterback in the class of 2015 by Rivals.com.
The dual-threat recruit passed for 1,596 yards and 13 touchdowns in his junior season in high school. He also rushed for 785 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns. He averaged 7.2 yards per rush as a junior.
Stevens said he is excited about playing in IU Coach Kevin Wilson’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense. He’s already no stranger to moving the ball quickly.
Rivals.com lists his 40-yard dash time at 4.65 seconds, which helped him pace a Decatur Central offense that averaged 46.5 points per game this past season.
Because of his familiarity with running an explosive offense, Stevens said he expects to fit well with a high-octane Hoosier offense that ranked ninth in the country with an average of 508.5 yards of total offense per game.
“It’s definitely a good offense and one of the best in the country,” Stevens said. “It’s basically a quarterback’s dream to play in, essentially making all the decisions. I couldn’t see it any other way.”
Juniors Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson split time at quarterback in the past season at the helm of the Hoosier offense.
Stevens has spent time talking to both, but mostly with Sudfeld who has offered him advice on how to move an offense and what it means to be an IU quarterback.
By the time Stevens is on campus, Sudfeld and Roberson will be seniors.
He said the chance to compete for a starting job early in his time at IU while still getting the chance to learn from the upperclassmen was key in making his decision.
But the person Stevens has become closest to has been soon-to-be freshman Dominique Booth.
Stevens joked that Booth “tore us up” in a sectional game between Booth’s Pike High School and Stevens’s Decatur Central two years ago.
“Dom’s been really more of a career interest for me, telling me what to look for,” Stevens said.
“I mean, he tried to get me to Indiana of course, but he has told me to look out for things — what’s right, what’s wrong. Basically just helping me out.”
Both Booth and Stevens are Indianapolis natives and have been key in-state signs for Wilson and the IU program.
They join 2014 signee Donovan Clark and 2015’s Jacob Robinson as top-20 in-state Hoosier commitments ranked by Rivals.com.
Now that Stevens has committed, he said he hopes to join Booth in helping recruit other talented high school players from across the state.
What separates schools like Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten is their ability to sign the top players from within the state, and then move out to the rest of the country, Stevens said.
He said he thinks he can help attract in-state talent to help IU become more like the perennial Big Ten powers.
“These bigger schools ... make sure they take care of their state,” Stevens said. “I think that’s what we’re hoping to start making IU. We get our state first and then start moving a little bit farther.”
Stevens also had offers from Big Ten rivals Purdue, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.
But he said he will be playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder when playing other Big Ten teams that passed on him.
“Some of these other schools that are in the Big Ten didn’t really think that I was good enough,” he said. “So I want to stay and hopefully beat them a couple times.”
But between now and then, Stevens has one final year of high school to work on his game before arriving in Bloomington.
He has been working on improving throwing the ball and becoming a more consistent passer. With only one year left at Decatur and his commitment out of the way, he said he wants to be the best teammate he can possibly be as a senior leader.
But once the lights go out on his final year of high school, his attention will turn to his IU team and trying to be the right piece of the puzzle in the Hoosier offense.
“It’s crazy,” Steves said. “It goes by crazy quick,” Stevens said. “A lot of stress has been released. I’m happy to be finished with recruiting and happy to start building this class.”