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INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 1, 2017
TOM ALLEN: Thank you for coming today. We're going to get started. I wanted to begin by making an overall statement about our class. Very, very excited with my first signing class here at Indiana. I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of young men we have attracted to our great university, high character guys from really good families. They care about school and really good football players.
That's the combination we were looking for. I think it's about fit here more than anything, getting guys who fit with who we are, what we want. We want tough guys that want to compete and that's the mantra that I tell our coaches we want to go find. This is a class full of those kind of guys. I like our length in this class, I like our size in this class. The Big Ten starts with the word "big" and we want big guys that can play and run and be physical, and I think this is a class that has all those attributes. Very excited about the group and what I'm going to go is go through them in alphabetical order. That way we can be efficient with that and do it in an organized way.
Happens to be the first young man there is last name Allen that I'm related to, and I know his mother well and helped me, I think, to seal the deal. Thomas is a young man that comes to us from Plant High School in Tampa. He's a guy that obviously I know well, but I also have tried to be objective throughout the process. It's tough when you're a dad to be that, so I really pull myself out of the whole process to be honest with you and had Coach Wilson, as the head coach at the time, when I got here to recruit him and let the staff take care of it and that's how we handled it.
I think that was the right way to do it. To treat him like anybody else that we were recruiting. The thing that stuck out to me about him is he's been in two different programs in high school. He's played in three state championship games in two different states and has played at a very high level every since his freshman year. Started as a freshman, had 470 total tackles in his four years of high school football and ended as the 2016 Tampa Bay Times Defensive Football Player of Year, which in that area of the country there is a lot of good football players. So proud of what he has accomplished as a young man, in the classroom, and he's enrolled here at this time.
Britt Beery, another first-class young man, from Carmel High School, Coach Hebert, a program that I have a ton of respect for, a big young man, 6-6, 270 pounds and still growing. I think he's a guy that's going to continue to develop. He's a multi-sport guy. Many of our guys are multi-sport athletes and their basketball team won a state championship. We have many players in this class that played in a championship game, several won, several were runners up. Britt is a first-class young man, awesome family and proud to have him here at IU.
Lance Bryant, from Fresno, Texas, another young man right there playing in the state championship game in 2015, 55-5 is his high school record as a high school player at Manvel, one of the best programs in the country. He is a very good cross rusher. This class is loaded with D-linemen and D-line bodies, guys that may play on either side of the ball, but D-line body types that we were trying to target.
It was a struggle last year trying to address this area and did not do that like we wanted to upon my arrival, so we made it a priority and Coach Hagan did a nice job and as you can see we have two of those guys right there out of the gate in that area.
Juwan Burgess might be a surprise of the class. It wasn't a Signing Day surprise, but a few weeks ago he committed to us, a flip from USC and the fact that he was supposed to go there. Obviously had a connection with him with he being on any son's team and had a chance as a dad to go watch a lot of practices just because you can do that through the NCAA rules when you are a parent and I got a chance to see him a lot. Close relationship with my son obviously and heck of a football player. He returns punts, going to be a safety for us, physical, can run extremely well, highly competitive, tough guy. Really, really excited to have Juwan as a part of our program.
Harry Crider, played for Bob Gaddis at Columbus East. Mr. Football in the offense active line position in the state of Indiana. Excellent student, tremendous family, loved Indiana. Committed to Virginia before. We flipped him to his home state which is where he wanted to be, and once again another young man that played for a state championship and that's a common theme you're going to see from these guys from great programs, leaders on those programs, team captain. That's the kind of guys we want here at Indiana.
Morgan Ellison, big running back out of Ohio. Really excited about Morgan. I think he's got tremendous upside, battled injuries during his career, missed his first couple years. Played his senior year, went 13-2 in those finals at Pickerington High School there in Ohio. 6-1, 220 pounds. We were looking for a big back in this class to be a guy that can help our program in both special teams and multiple positions and I think that's another thing you're going to hear is guys that can do a lot of different things. We tried to get body types, guys that we can get on the team that had high character, care about school and are really good football players and then we figure out where we're going to put 'em when we get 'em here. He's a really good football player, excited about Morgan.
Bryant Fitzgerald, I told our coaches, he committed to us early, we've got to hang on to this guy. He's going to get a lot of attention. He is another Mr. Football Award winner out of Indiana as a defensive back out of Avon High School for Mark Bless, a person I have a ton of respect for and he's does a tremendous job there. One of the best if not the best in all of the state. I think he's a great, great player. Running back, played outside linebacker for them, going to be a safety for us, kick returner, just a dynamic football player and also another fine young man that fits those qualities we talked about and he's a highly competitive individuals that played basketball. Going up through, just excited about Bryant Fitzgerald. We call him "Fitzy".
Ty Fryfogle is a guy we got in on because of Coach Heard. We don't recruit the state of Mississippi heavily. This is our second recruit in two years that we got from there and from my time at Ole Miss as a college coach there. Ty joined us as a receiver, love him. The family that we met is just a great group of people. Once again, I want this program to be filled with people that have character and have values, have things that we know are going to make 'em successful on and off the field. He played in the prestigious Mississippi/Alabama all-star game which is a big-time game down there where you play against a lot of elite talent and he's a big receiver which we like to have in this program and that's not going to change.
Next young man is Juan Harris. He is an early enrollee. He is a very large individual, big, strong athletic guy that we're thrilled to have. All-state player, throws the shot and discus in high school, multi-sport guy like we like to get, but he's here with us and that was a big deal for him to get on campus, being part of our strength and conditioning programming and allow him to be able to prepare himself. He's a guy that has the skill set to be an elite football player in this conference and excited about Juan and excited to see him develop here in our program.
Peyton Hendershot, a big tight end for us, here, that really, really excited about Peyton. I think his potential is very, very high. High ceiling for him athletically. Extremely talented basketball player. Went and watched him play recently and just really was awed by his skill level in that sport. Explosive, big tight end. He's a guy that can play in and out, he can flex out. He can stretch the field and once again, played both sides of the football, rushed the passer at times, too, but just a guy that once again won the Mr. Football Award in this state for his position and that's another common theme, we got a lot of multi-sport guys that play at a very high level in the states they came from.
LaDamion Hunt, call him "Day Day". Big corner. Got to get a corner. It was an emphasis for this class, and both guys corners we signed are six-foot plus and LaDamion is a high-character young man been raised the right way, coming from Carrollton High School, which is just west of Atlanta and Coach Calhoun has done a great job with that program taking over. Day Day was a leader for them as the new coach came in and they played at a high level this season, finished 11-2, and won a bunch of games and he was the leader of that crew and they were excited about his physicality and ability to make plays in the secondary.
Caleb Jones, another big guy, 6-8, 320 is probably conservative, so he's bigger than that. He's a guy that really, really excited about. His potential, if you want 'em big, recruit 'em big and we've talked about that a lot. He's an all-state player in this state, one of the top 50 players, Coach Mallory played here at Indiana, his coach, and wanted to do a great job of recruiting. We had to fend off a lot of guys in the end, especially an SEC school in particular of coaches that tried to swoop in on him, but it spoke to the character of the men we recruited, their families, the job our staff about. We lost one guy in the whole transition and this is very rare to happen when there is a coaching change.
The relationships that we had built with this young man was huge because he's a guy that we really knew we would have to keep a close reign on and I think as a whole group it speaks to the work ethic of our coaches and even today we had our whole class pretty much sealed in about an hour and a half. I wasn't shocked by that. We had one guy at the end we were battling with, but bottom line our guys were on top of their recruits. They were committed to us, wholeheartedly and that didn't change. We had to fight for 'em but at the end of the day we were able to hold everybody together.
Tyler Knight, an offensive lineman, another big-bodied guy that can move which is what we like about Tyler, out of Clearwater, Florida, Northside Christian. He played for Mike Alstott, the head coach there. He's a guy that can move, play multiple positions in the O-line and that's what I like about him and also he's enrolled with us right now and in school. Very, very good student, comes from another really good family. Highly successful football program that he came from, won a lot of games there in Florida.
Mike McGinnis, a junior college transfer. Linebacker. A guy that we had an immediate need there with Marcus' departure as an early guy to the League, so it gave us a chance to attract a guy that's a team captain and an All-American as a JC player and really excited about getting him here. He's on campus now, enrolled, working out with our team and getting him in position to be able to compete for that Mike linebacker position. Mike is a guy that works out a lot, love his work and toughness and he comes every day and has around edge about him. So he's going to fit in well here.
LeShaun Minor, Ben Davis High School, a school I know well, spent many years there with Coach Kirschner. I think LeShaun is one of our talented players for sure. He's a talented defensive lineman. Played basketball as well. Another multi-sport guy as well and another Mr. Football for his position, as a defensive lineman and has extremely high ceiling. I think he's going to be -- have a chance to be elite and I'm excited about LeShaun and getting him here this summer and getting him as part of this program. He's another awesome kid that has come from a good family and he knows how to work and he knows how to win and we're excited about having LeShaun as part of the IU family.
Craig Nelson, a guy that we got to know here at the end of the cycle. Coach McCullough did a great job of recruiting him because Coach Harris is his high school coach out of Booker T. Everybody in the county comes through there and he has a big burst. We were looking are for a big back and then a back with burst. This is the guy that gives us that kind of burst we were looking for. Once again, another great program. They won a national championship during his time as a player there and a high-level football player, there from Booker T, a guy that's tough, loved to work, loved his family when they came and visited and spent time with him and Coach McCullough had sold us all on that, and he was absolutely right. This kid has a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove and those are the kind of guys that I love.
Next young man is DeAngelo Philyor and we call him "Whop" and that's the name everybody calls him. His mom is quick to point out, though, his name is DeAngelo. She said, I don't like Whop." I said, "He likes Whop and that's what everybody calls him." So anyway, great kid. 91 catches, 20 TDs, another plant product, national-type of guy we had to compete against a lot of teams for, explosive, slot receiver, kick return, played corner. He's going to be a receiver for us, a slot for us and dynamic player and a dynamic personality. He takes over the whole room. He's a fun kid, just a really, really neat young man. Couldn't be more fired up to have both Juwan and Whop here with us. It was a relationship piece is what it came town to with my son and with me and those guys feeling confident and their parents feeling like they're going to be in a situation where they're going to get the leadership, the guidance, the accountability that they wanted them to have especially coming that far from home. He's a great kid that I think is going to have a chance to come in here and have an immediate impact on our program.
Tramar Reece, defensive end, 6-4, raw, talented, long, love this guy! Great kid, been through a lot of tough situations in his life. Lost his mother a year ago. Just unexpectedly. It's hard, you know, you go through something like this and you want her to be here for you on such a great day. So his aunt stepped up and has been awesome in his life and just really a neat young man that I think has tremendous up side and excited about his athleticism that he brings to our defense. We don't have a lot of those kinda guys, we gotta get more of those and I'm excited about Tramar and what he brings to us and the character piece as well as a talented young man.
Next guy on the list, Nick Tronti. To me this guy is really what kind of finishes off this class to make it really, really special. Nick is a guy that we went after later on, in the process, really was one of nose where I kind of went after him once I became the head coach. I knew about this kid, I liked this kid all along, there was something about him that I just kept coming back to him, and myself, as I would be referred many of my close friends in the state of Florida, a lot of connections there kept sending me messages and texts and saying you gotta consider this guy. As he started going to the playoff run he played great the whole season and threw for over 7,000 yards many his career, but he really -- he's at his best when it counts the most which is what you want. He has that moxie about him, that savvy about him. He's got that special something that's to put the team on his back and go score and go win the game and he's got the ability to run and throw and he's tough and competitive and I just love this kid. He won Mr. Football -- they only give one of those out, they give one award for the entire state and he's in the long list of great, great players that have won that award in the state of Florida, led his team to the state championship and played a great very, very talented team and had a chance to beat 'em in the end and everyone in that state would tell you their playoff run was because this young man willed his team through that whole process. He's a tough, competitive guy that once again, high academics, great family. He's going to fit in well as an Indiana Hoosier.
Haydon Whitehead, young man, interesting situation. I learned several years ago that Australians punt the ball pretty well, so I got an Australian punter when he was special coordinator at Ole Miss and got a connection with Pro Kick Australia and the guys that run that and reached out to them earlier in the process and through how that whole process works, which I did once before, we got Haydon here. His first trip to America was his official visit. He came here with us and he's actually a mid-year guy, so he's already here and fine young man that we're excited about. He brings that versatility of an Australian punter where he can punt traditional. He's a left-footed punter. He will run to his left and he can punt with his right foot as well. Most kids from there can do that, not like it's equal, but they do have the ability to that. It's a whole different approach because as it was explained to me when I was studying all this, the way we were raised throwing the football they're raised kicking it to each other. So they're comfortable with the ball and that's just one reason why you have seen so many of those in our game collegiately and it's been a big push and that's not going to change. So he's here with us and excited to have Haydon in the fold.
Last young man, Michaael Ziemba, a big guy that can do lots of things. You see him on film playing full back, tight end, linebacker. We recruited him as an athlete that's going to be a probably defensive linemen, we think. Big 260-pound young man, 6-3, 6-4 range. Awesome kid, great grades, tough, hard-noticed, multi-sport guy, like many of these guys are and excited about Michaael. He did get injured had year. Missed most of his season, so did not have a lot of film which probably helped us hide him a little bit. He committed to us earlier over the summer before he was injured and from a good high school program there in Lake Mary here is Florida, just north of Orlando and high-caliber young man that fits that same type of person that we want to attract to IU. That's our class. Couldn't be more thrilled. I'll take questions at this time.
Q. (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: That's my fault.
De'Morreal "Mo" Burnam is from Georgia. A 6-2, 220-pound linebacker and Mo for us is a guy that it fit a tremendous need. We set on you, if you notice last year we did not take a linebacker. That wasn't the intent. I got here two weeks before Signing Day and just did not get what we really wanted and decided we weren't going to just take a guy just to take a guy. So we said inside class we're going to try and sign three and that's what we did. Mo has the flexibility to play the stinger position or grow into a Mike. He committed to Tennessee prior to our recruiting of him, fine young man, basketball-type player, runs track and that allows him to be a versatile linebacker that can run, you see on his film, physical, great player.
Raheem Layne is a corner back from Sebastian River in Florida. He committed to Minnesota prior to us flipping him and we had to fight to the bitter end for him, another 6-foot corner that has the ability to return kicks and punts and another talented athlete I feel is another high-ceiling, high academics, good family, a lot of good people in his life that care a lot about him and enjoyed meeting his family throughout the process.
Two great guys. I did not mean to leave them out. That's my fault, but excellent additions to our class. Those two guys defensively really round out a very strong defensive class for us this year.
Q. With Beery's size, is it possible he could (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: Here is the thing with bring the and we were transparent with bring the through the whole process. He's one of those awesome kids that said, "Coach, I'll play wherever you want me to play." We have talked to him about the ability to be on either side of the ball. What I don't want to do with these guys is every recruit them with lies. If we have intention of maybe moving them, then we will be open about it. I think that's how you -- here's the deal. If you are dishonest with them or mislead them in the process and then you get 'em here, then they're going top not trust you. If you don't have any trust you've got nothing.
So that situation, he's going to start on defense and he is a big 'ol kid that probably isn't done growing. Watched him play basketball and I did a few weeks ago, kid can move, he's aggressive, yeah, he's got -- there's several guys, we told 'em in the process you may be either side of the ball, we don't know yet. We just want to get the best guys that fit with us that have the attitude, Coach, I'll do whatever I can to help this team win, and you win with guys like that.
Q. What's the key to keeping all these guys committed?
TOM ALLEN: Relationships. There is no question about it. I think the key to that was they were built a long time ago. We have done it for a whole year. When you have that relationship built even though take a guy like Peyton, his position coach was not here anymore. Coach Wilson recruited him as well. He wasn't here. So he was kind of like, at first he wanted to figure it all out but it didn't take us long at all to get him to feel comfortable again but if there had not been a relationship -- I also believe this: We staff recruit. So when you staff recruit, guys are going to get other jobs. It's part of the profession. They get opportunities, guys that are position coaches want to be coordinators, guys that are coordinators may have a chance to be head coach. Those things are going to happen so I learned a long time ago you better staff recruit and when you staff recruit they know everybody so if someone leaves, it's not like the one guy that I felt connected with is now gone so I now look elsewhere. So I think those two things, and it all goes back to relationships and it takes energy to do that, time to do that but et cetera that's how we recruited, especially defensively and it filtered into other parts of our program.
Q. We all know the quality of football in Florida. You've got nine kids from Florida, is that part of a (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: It is, and Coach Frye who is no longer with us, he had tremendous ties to Florida and I was a high school coach in Florida for five years before I came to Indiana as a high school coach. It's all about relationships, and I think there is no question that helps a lot. When you get some young men from an area, that helps. You come up here and you visit and you got a guy that you knew or this is one of your teammates, several of these they're teammates involved, Mike Ziemba has teammates down there and that's an area that we have recruited well from in the past and I don't see that changing.
Q. Tom, how likely is a kid like Tronti going to have a chance to compete for the job?
TOM ALLEN: You know, the thing that's a little different is he's not a mid-year enrollee, so I think it's challenging to do that, but there is no question, you know, I want to make it very clear, I don't care what position it is, we talked about even -- we signed a punter. I told everybody here, the best punter punts, okay? Best quarterback plays. So if you come in here and you have an opportunity to whatever time you're given, so if you're a freshman you come in in June and you've got June and July to make an impression and prepare yourself to compete at this highest level, the best players play. He's going to have an opportunity to compete for that position like anybody else. Is that tough to do as a freshman? Yes, it is.
But the best players are going to play, period, I don't care what grade you're in.
Q. (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: I would say hopefully within a week. I wanted to get through Signing Day, focus on that and get that squared away in a week.
Q. What would you say are the three or four biggest things you guys got this with this class?
TOM ALLEN: I think number one the thing that sticks out to me we got, we got young men that fit IU. They are tough kids that care about school, and they want to compete. Getting a young man that fits that is extremely important. The second thing I feel like we got are a lot of big bodies. We had an emphasis here as a staff let's go out and get some bigger -- some length, size, and let's allow ourselves to be in a better position from a young man to be able to compete against the big 10 teams and the size of those teams to be able to allow us to do that.
Obviously you've got to have speed, that doesn't change. So big guys that can move, and I think we addressed that and the other part is guys that are versatile. You look at this list of guys, you've got guys that can play a lot of positions and I think that's really, really important to me is to get guys that can -- I don't want to pigeon hole guys. Sometimes, A'Shon Riggins didn't play corner at high school, he was a receiver and he was a really good basketball player. So we used those two things to project him as a corner and he ended up coming in here and starting as a freshman. To me you get the right body type with the right kind of character and the right kind of competitive spirit and then you get those guys in the right spot.
This gives us a lot of flexibility with a lot of these guys to be able to mix and match 'em and once we get 'em here figure out the best play for them to play.
Q. What was the process like recruiting your son and I imagine it wasn't something that probably started here but what was it like for you?
TOM ALLEN: It was different. I just think that, you know, as a parent -- first of all, the whole calendar is really, really -- makes it difficult as a dad to take him places. Because when we are doing our job of running camps and working, then you're doing that. So you can't leave and go take him on visits over the summer.
Plus he was going to be a mid-year guy, so he wasn't going to have time to do January visits. So then when it goes dead nobody can take any visits, even coaches. So there was a two-week period over the summer when I would have time for me to go do it and it was a tough situation. It started back at when I was at South Florida with Coach Taggart, and we had to work out something for me to be able to go do that and they were the first one to offer and they came to me and they said we want to offer your son and I'm like, all right, go ahead. I just -- I said I don't want to have anything to do with it. I don't want to recruit him. I don't want to evaluate him. I want you guys to treat him like anybody else, but take me out of the mix. If you feel like he's good enough to play then we'll go -- I want you to treat me as a dad because what happens with coaches kids they get treated differently and you don't want to do that. I want him to be recruited by his position coach and go through the whole process of him feeling like he got recruited not that he's Coach Allen's kid and he's just always around. It's just different because everybody knows him and he's there and he comes to practice.
It's a different -- at the same time it's a neat experience for us, you know, and we feel very, very blessed. He's just one of those kids that has worked really hard and he's going to -- he isn't always going to be the best athlete in the group, but for whatever reason he's always elevated and you hear what his high school coaches say about him and that's them talking and not me. He's a kid that has a tremendous amount of character. He's a 4.5 student on a 4-point scale, and obviously cares about school and won the Scholar Athlete Award for the whole area of the Tampa Bay. He's going down next week to get that award and he's a top-notch kid that's going to work his tail off for that and I'm proud of him for that. He's maximized what he has been given. He had been around it. He goes to all of the college games and sees the college players when he's younger and it's allowed him to aspire to that.
But it's a hard situation, I think, in some ways, but -- we actually went through this process and I called coaches. I talked to Coach Ferentz and said, do you think it's a good idea? Should we do this? Or should he go somewhere else and make his own way. We talked it through and he gave me his advice and I had a couple of other coaches who coached their sons. I played for my dad, but that was in high school which is different. The difference is if you play for your dad in college you're with him all the time. If you don't I'll never see him play. Ever. Maybe once a year at the most. So it's one extreme or the other.
So first we thought it wasn't going to be a good idea, then we prayed about it, talk to enough people and said, you know what? Hey, we feel this is the best for him. It worked out. I never dreamed I would be his head coach. That wasn't the plan. Obviously I was going to be the DC here and he was going to come here and God had a different plan. Obviously this is where we're at and he's going to be treated like everybody else and I say that to our players he's a player over here. He's going to have to earn his way. He knows that and that's part of the deal. What happens here stays here and he doesn't go running home and tell mom. That's not how it works. (Laughter.)
Seriously, he knows that and that's kind of the unique piece there, you get -- even Coach Ferentz joked about that. He said they had a deal where things happened in practice and they were talked about and it was real quickly the law was laid down that that's not going to be that way because you can't function in that manner. That part I get because you get that from high school, too, you gotta leave it out there and separate it. He's in the dorms and a normal student like everybody else. Just happens to be my son.
Q. Is there an area that you didn't feel like your recruiting was able to help in?
TOM ALLEN: I can honestly say no. If you go through each level defensively, we addressed the D line. I feel like we got the number of backers we wanted. I feel like we got two corners that I love and a couple of safeties and this is a class that wasn't going to be a heavy safety class because we've got older guys there. We just needed corners. We got some guys, too, that have the flexibility to play corners well and offensively, a couple of receivers, running backs, mix of O-linemen, quarterback, tight end. So I think it's a balanced class the way it all worked out. There is always a guy or two that you try to get. I've learned this, it's not the guys that you miss on that hurt you it's the once that you take that you shouldn't. So me that's the key. You're always going to recruit guys and you get a lot of guys you want. There's always a few that you don't get. That's the way for everybody. But you make sure you get the right ones and that's it is key.
Q. What makes schools hesitate with Nick Tronti and what did you see about him?
TOM ALLEN: We had that question, too. He's not -- when you go watch 7-on-7 he's going to it be a good player, he's not going to be like, oh that's the next -- but when there's pads on and 11 guys playing, which is football, he rises and he shines. That, to me, was the key factor for me because I wanted to put the tape on and see that. I didn't care what he did in 7-on-7 he's still good at that, obviously, but he's not 6-3 or 4 and I think in today's game recruiting the quarterback position goes, most guys are done before their senior season, okay?
So most quarterbacks, this would be the second reason why I think this happened, most people have their quarterbacks committed, this is true, and so you get to your senior season, oftentimes we don't really watch that senior film. I thought he really grew from his junior to his senior season in terms of performing at a high, high level. He felt like he continued to improve.
By the time the film that we watched you're thinking, what are we missing here? This kid looks really, really talented. You kind of go back and find this and that and at the end I had several places that we had to try and fight to get him from. Bottom line is, I don't have all the answers for that but I think those are key things. The recruiting of a quarterback is a sped-up process, sometimes too fast and this is a guy that I think just has that grit and that toughness and that -- when the lights are on, it's 11-on-11 football he's at his best, especially in big games and that's what you want.
Q. Is there anyone you think is wired differently, kind of like draws up plays in his sleep?
TOM ALLEN: We like Marcelino, but I don't know if I would have projected -- when he showed up to camp in June, I knew the kid was very, very focused. Would I have said that standing in front of you on Signing Day? No, we were excited about him, for sure, but I don't think I ever knew he was going to be that good.
So, for me, if I think of the class, the guy that sticks out to me that is similar is Bryant Fitzgerald. He's a guy to me that kind of has that -- he's a football player.
He has the same qualities that Marcelino had, that similar mind-set. Not quite as big, you know, as "Lino" but that jumps out to me. I think Tronti has that, I think he has that look about him that he is different. There is a focus and there is a seriousness to it that is different than the average guy. All of these guys, they all got a lot to prove. To me this Signing Day, this is just the beginning. They're all clean slate, we can all be excited, there is not a coach in America that ain't excited about his class. They're all saying all these great things and I get all that, that's part of the deal.
These guys got a lot of hard work ahead of 'em to be able to come and play in the Big Ten and compete for the championships. So I love these guys. I think there's going to be several -- there is always going to be surprises, some that don't end up being what we thought they were going to be for whatever reason but I do feel like there's a core game to these guys and what they represent that has me excited as their head coach.
Q. When you look at the rankings recruiting experts at least from the Big Ten standpoint don't have you at the top, you're at the bottom. Does that concern you? Do you worry about that?
TOM ALLEN: Honestly, I couldn't tell you what we're ranked. It really doesn't bother me. I know that the bottom line for me is -- you know who makes those rankings up, it's not coaches, okay? So the bottom line is that you go through and you -- I didn't even know how many stars some of these guys were when we recruited them. I tell our guys, don't look at the stars and don't look at who has offered them. Watch the film and trust your evaluation. There is no question we want to be able to recruit the best players we can get. I get that and sometimes those rankings are more accurate than others, but I will say this: It takes a disciplined coach to be able to say I like this guy, I don't care if anybody else liked him, trust your eval. If we think he's a good player go recruit him, if we don't, I don't care how many stars he has in the other direction, because I've been in those meetings where that gets you in trouble, where you're trying to pick a guy because of what somebody else thinks of him and that's the reality. I just know that you have to trust your eval on your guys and get guys that fit your program.
Q. Are you guys looking to athletic director somebody late in the process? Do you have room?
TOM ALLEN: Not expecting to do that. There's always unexpected things that might happen if a guy popped up but we're not having that as a target. We really feel like we numerically addressed the areas we wanted to address.
Q. (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: Well, depends on -- I want to have a good core from Indiana, I do. You look at the list of guys in Indiana and who all went division I places this year, we got the majority of them. I want to do that. I was on the phone already with 2018 linebacker from Indianapolis already today talking about next year's class and our goals for being able to be encouraging and -- not encouraging but just convincing these guys why they should stay home. I want to get the best players in Indiana to stay home. I do. We're going to approach it that way and we're not going to bow to anybody else or allow anybody else to think they got an edge on us. If our guy is in state they're not going to get recruited any harder than they are by us, so, yes, it is a priority.
Q. Speaking of the 2018 class are you looking for the big versatile types or is that different?
TOM ALLEN: The positions are going to change. We were heavy D-line this year, there will be less taken at that spot. The linebacker spot we're going to emphasize the more of the athlete, the stinger position is going to be addressed in that class the way I'm thinking right now, safeties. So that type of body there. Up front on the offensive line you've got to get a good core of guys every year and they're going to need to be big.
I like big receivers, you know? I think that's a match-up problem for us in the secondary. I want fast tailbacks. I just think that's -- guys that can go. So that, to me, I'm sure it's not any different than anyone else would want. You got your numbers, the scholarship numbers and how they fall and you've got to address those needs and every class is different.
Q. In terms of scheduling is recruits, you guys playing games in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, how big is that for exposure in those areas?
TOM ALLEN: I think it's important. Even last year we played down at FIU and coaches stayed down there and recruited after the game, played on a Thursday night, stayed and recruited on Friday, the high school games. I just think that -- we invited those area kids to come watch us play. That's just kind of what you want to do.
I think that without question, you have a chance to play teams from that part of the country it helps with getting them -- getting their interest in us. We have a really good brand, we really do, you get down in the south we have a great alumni base, we really do and it helps us as we're going through and from a post collegiate perspective and their job placement, those are all big parts of it and that helps us and IU has done a great job marketing that and the IU symbol, when you walk into a school, they know who you are.
Q. (No microphone.) Seems like you went after guys that can really hit not just tackle.
TOM ALLEN: We want explosive guys. I want guys that when they hit, I want that. Linebackers, safeties, D linemen, it's that burst, that acceleration. From that 3 to 4 yards from either my position or as I'm attacking the ball carrier, I'm looking for that surge. That's what you want to show up on film, whatever position it is, to me that's what you want.
Q. I know you kind of talked about this earlier but Tronti, you talked about wanting more mobility in the quarterback, that the profile of quarterback you want, a guy that can make more plays on his feet?
TOM ALLEN: I just think this and I'm not a big I want a dual threat guy. Here is what I want. I want a guy that the defense has to account for. That the D-line has to deal with in their pass rush, that they can't just rush for and get a bunch of depth in their drops and be the worry about the quarterback, being able to make somebody miss and extend the play. I think you have to be very careful and I tell them when we recruit these guys, I don't want to be a system where it's all a bunch of quarterback runs and he's getting pounded. I think in this league that's tough. You better have three of those guys lined up to take the next hits.
But he has to be able to extend the play, make guys miss and make them account for him and Nick is the guy that can move around pretty effectively. He is 210 pounds, so he has got a pretty good frame on him to handle a hit or two. You think about the teams that we play. If you think about Penn State and their quarterback, they didn't do a bunch of quarterback design runs, but he hurt you with his legs and he can extend the play and you've got to account for him. When you do, where do you have to account for him with? In the secondary. That changes everything.
So to me, it affects the way you scheme on our side of the ball as a defensive guy, having that ability to extend plays is what I'm looking for, however that looks, but he needs to be a passer first. I want an accurate quarterback that throws the football well first and then his legs are the next step in the process.
Q. (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: He's relentless. It's the same thing that he does as a coach. It never stops. It's constant he has a good pool of guys for 2018 that we're targeting and we had a great pool of guys to pick from on the D line. That's why you get a guy or miss a guy, you can't get 'em all. I think I would attribute it to that. A lot of great work -- he's a hard, hard worker and knows what we're looking for. He built a great pool of guys and went after them. He built relationships with the players, with the families and all those that were going to be helping to make the decision and did a really good job of that.
Q. (No microphone.)
TOM ALLEN: Yes, I would think so.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Tom.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports