Indiana Daily Student

IU lands nine recruits from Florida despite coaching changes

<p>Sports Filler</p>

Sports Filler

IU has long tapped into the talent-rich Sunshine State for prospective college athletes. Since the 2013 recruiting class, which included Florida natives Clyde Newton and T.J. Simmons, who, in their time at IU, helped bolster a strong linebacking corps, Florida’s been one of the top three states in Hoosier commits.

That pipeline took a step up with the 2017 class, which boasts nine Floridians of the 23 who signed their national letters of intent to continue their football careers at IU.

Those commitments generally remained firm as the coaching carousel saw IU Coach Tom Allen replace Kevin Wilson, Mike DeBord and Grant Heard replace Kevin Johns and James Patton, and Greg Frey leave for Michigan. No recruits from Florida decommitted, and IU lost just one 
overall.

“It’s all about relationships, and I think there is no question that helps a lot,” Allen said as he introduced his 2017 recruits. “When you get some young men from an area, that helps.”

Fourteen of the players on IU’s 2016 roster came to IU by way of Florida, and some hail from the same high schools as 
current teammates and the new 2017 crop of 
Hoosiers.

Don Mesick, who coached 2017 signee Tramar Reece at Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida, said IU finds success in its strategy to key in on guys early and stick with them. Mesick said IU’s staff had as much of a presence in the area as state schools and saw Frey consistently.

“I know he’s not there any longer, but this is his territory,” Mesick said. “He’s a Clearwater grad. He’s down here a lot. Any time that they’re allowed to be out and recruiting he was here.”

Allen isn’t ignorant to the reality that coaches may leave for other opportunities. He understands position coaches may leave to take coordinator jobs and coordinators may leave to take head coaching positions, so IU staff-recruits.

If a coach leaves for a new opportunity like Frey did or quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson did to become the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Pittsburgh, a recruit doesn’t feel like his only connection to the staff is gone.

“If it had just been Coach Frey, there’s a possibility some of them would have decommitted,” Mesick said of IU’s recruiting strategy in the region.

Although Frey’s departure in the days before National Signing Day didn’t appear to affect the Hoosiers’ 2017 recruiting class, it may very well influence future classes. Lane Kiffin took the head coaching job at FAU. Charlie Strong is now the head coach at South Florida. Those two add to the already deep well of high-profile coaches who’ve set up shop in Florida.

Although Kiffin and Strong came late to the party this recruiting cycle and their efforts didn’t result in any of Mesick’s players flipping their commitments, their presence was certainly felt.

“The kids listened because of the names,” 
Mesick said. “They certainly listened because of the names that those guys have. That’s going to be something going forward that I’m sure that’s going to have an effect on the recruiting down here. I can’t imagine it not.”

As IU looks to compete with those recruiting talents, it will have to do so without Frey. Allen and others may have their own relationships in the Sunshine State, but that’s a loss they won’t be able to gloss over.

“I’m not saying it’s going to dry up but certainly they’re not going to be able to have the same relationship with the coaches that Coach Frey did,” 
Mesick said.

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