Through the whirlwind of IU Coach Tom Allen’s first weekend as the head coach of Hoosier football, his 2017 recruiting class has remained intact.
Current players and recruits alike were surprised by the sudden change in leadership, and while the promotion of the former defensive coordinator allowed for some continuity, the reality remained that the poster boy of the IU coaching staff was gone.
“We can take a little step back on that with Kevin, but I think we step right in with Tom,” IU Athletics Director Fred Glass said in Allen’s introductory press conference. “The ability to maintain most of the staff and the kids to know who they’re dealing with, I think, is a big plus.”
Just as a program’s trajectory, facilities and other tangible offerings are key factors in a high schooler’s decision on where to commit, so too are the relationships a recruit builds with coaches.
IU’s staff was out on the recruiting trail when Glass turned to Allen, and Allen went out of his way to speak to prospective Hoosiers with all eyes now turned to him.
“Recruits, I was in a home at this time yesterday, thought I was going to be in another home at this time tonight,” Allen said at the Dec. 1 press conference. “Our whole staff, except for me, is out recruiting right now selling the vision of this program that I so strongly believe in. I can’t wait to get back on the road this time as the head coach.”
He pledged to improve IU’s special teams group, continue the change in culture on defense, run the ball on offense and score in the red zone.
The Hoosiers’ 2017 class had 15 members when Wilson resigned, and it still has 15 today. Fourteen of them are 247Sports Composite three-star recruits, and one, Allen’s son Thomas, is a two-star prospect.
The class ranks 55th in the nation and 11th in the Big Ten ahead of Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue.
“Coach Allen is the perfect fit,” out-of-state commit Juan Harris tweeted. “I believe and trust in him 100%.”
Others, committed and uncommitted, set to become college freshmen in 2017 tweeted similar statements, posted pictures celebrating successful in-home visits from Hoosier coaches and spoke about their excitement regarding visits to Bloomington scheduled for the weekend.
It’s unclear what exactly IU’s coaching staff will look like when the 2017 season opener in Bloomington against Ohio State kicks off. It’s unclear what exactly the staff will look like when National Signing Day rolls around.
Allen has already promoted Shawn Watson from quality control assistant to quarterbacks coach and consolidated offensive coordinator Kevin Johns’ duties to play-calling and wide receivers in preparation for the bowl game.
“The plan right now is to be able to keep our staff intact through the bowl game,” Allen said Dec. 1. “Then we’ll evaluate everything from top to bottom in our program to ensure that we are putting the best product on the field and the best coaching staff together that allows us to be great on Saturdays.”
Recruiting battles always pick up as days are crossed off the calendar in the lead-up to National Signing Day, and any subsequent changes Allen makes to his staff will certainly add to that mayhem.
Whether or not those changes will result in decommitments is yet to be seen.