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INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 19, 2018
COACH ALLEN: Good afternoon. I want to begin by just heartfelt prayers for Terry Hutchens and his family and just continue to pray for him and his situation. So just heavy hearts for all that he's going through now. Awesome person.
So just want to always talk about today, which is why we're here, to talk about this class and the young men that chose to sign with us today, which is a really exciting class for me, as you continue to build what you're doing as a coach and you begin to really have multiple years to be here and you invest in these guys and you get to know them. Because these recruiting relationships last and take a long time to build and development.
And some of these are going into year two, to be able to get a young man to make this decision and to decide what's best for him and his family, which is what it comes down to in the end. So a lot of strong ties and a lot of hard work that goes into a day like today.
And with having the two signing periods, you still have more guys to fill. We have 20 spots filled today, and counting Jack Tuttle, who was not in the class and doesn't count in the class, but in terms of today's how they go by and judge that. But obviously he's still a part of our team now and will be a part of the 25 that we bring in. So we have five more spots available after today.
So just really encouraged by the number of in-state young men that chose to be with us, four of the top six in Indiana, something that, ever since I've been here has been a priority, to recruit the state of Indiana very hard and do a great job of building relationships. And just really excited about the young men that chose to be here from our state.
And also a number -- we have six guys that are four stars or higher in their rankings. I don't, we don't get too bent out of shape about those rankings, the number of stars a guy has. But it's how they evaluate them and how they categorize and judge them. And there's no question that many of those guys in those higher areas do turn out to be really good players.
So a guy like Sean Wracher that sometimes gets some rankings -- he's a long snapper, but the guys that actually judge his skill set rank him as five star. My philosophy in signing a long snapper was the fact that we just graduated Dan Godsil, who is going to be playing in the Senior Bowl, one of the best long snappers in America.
And I don't like rolling the dice with those kind of positions. You go out there and get the best. We did a national search for the best and Sean fit the profile. He's a Midwest guy out of Ohio. We decided to dive into him and go ahead.
But in my mind, like I said, the guys that evaluate them, Kohl's Kicking, he's a five-star guy. But regardless he's an excellent skill set for what we're looking for. Cam Williams, Beau Robbins, Jack Tuttle, Tiawan Mullen and Sampson James, all guys that are regarded as such, all fine young men that we really spent a lot of time investing in and getting to know and they chose to come here and be with us.
Pretty balanced class. A lot of different states represented. A lot of different positions represented. Both sides of the football. Few guys listed as athletes, a guy that we don't know yet what side of the ball they may play on, or what position they may play. I kind of use Stevie Scott as our test case for that and explain our thought process. And we took him last year as a potential running back or linebacker and we all know what he did as running back.
And so several guys in this class that kind of fall in that category. And so Da'shaun Brown is one of those guys, and David Ellis is another one of those guys, probably both going in on offense, I would assume, but very versatile players that play multiple positions, both sides of the football, special teams, get the ball in their hands and make plays. Even up front, a guy like Antoine Whitner is a guy we signed as a big athlete. He can play both sides of the football. He can play inside, play outside. Big 6'5" guy, 300-plus pounds, but lean. Very athletic for his size.
And you just can't get enough of those guys. That's how I kind of view some of those positions, and just really want to make sure we do a great job of identifying those kind of athletes that fit that profile and allow us to be very, very successful running the football on offense, creating explosive plays on offense, running to the football on defense, creating takeaways on defense, and the special teams game of being really, really at a high level at our specialists, which is, to me, as I've said all along, if you have great special teams you have to have high-quality specialists. That's what we've addressed with this class.
Very, very deep class. Like I said we have 20 at this point. We'll add some more in the future. You guys can continue to ask questions here as you will. But before I get to the questions, we do have several guys that will be mid-year and that means they'll be joining with us in January. Matthew Bedford, big offensive tackle, a big get for us out of Memphis, Tennessee. And Juan Harris will be returning to our program. And Sampson James, Michael Katic out of Pennsylvania, and Larry Tracy out of Indianapolis, Decatur Central High School, will be a mid-year enrollee. And then Jack Tuttle is also going to be mid-year.
So that's six total guys that will be joining us in January, be part of our team right away, which is a really big deal. They'll be with our strength staff, which I feel is the best in America. And those guys, under Dave Ballou's leadership, will do a great job really preparing their bodies and their minds for a Big Ten season here in a few months.
That's the class that we have today. Really, really excited about the young men that have chosen us, and now the real work has begun because once you come here you have to start from the beginning and prove that you have the skill set and the mental and physical toughness to be a Big Ten football player.
Q. How quickly did the Jack Tuttle thing transpire? And how much did his family history play a part in everything?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, I think that it was one of those, that would be one of the situations where we had not had a year-long recruiting process with him. I would say that immediately, though, the fact that he was born here in Indiana, the fact that his father played here at Indiana, the fact his mother went to Indiana State, they have family in Indiana was a big draw for them. And also for us.
I try to find if a guy's from that far away what would cause him to want to be here. And I think that that was -- I think part of the equation for sure. I think another big part of it was once he got here and got around our guys, I think he just really felt really comfortable here and just was -- kind of the environment he was looking for in terms of the culture we have here, the way we treat our players and the way that they as parents knew their son was going to be received here and to be able to have him come.
So, yeah, that was probably one that wasn't as long term of a recruiting process, but really excited about him and the skill that he brings and the chance to come here and really give us depth in a room that needs it bad.
Q. I understand there's an appeal pending for immediate eligibility. As much as you can comment on that, what do you think the timetable of that will be in terms of when you will learn whether or not he will be eligible for next fall?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, that is accurate. Appeal will be made. And that process can vary in length. Basically you just go through it and you assume that you're going to get it and then you just deal with it when you get the result.
I'm assuming you'll know probably around the spring ball range, I would think, based on previous history. Sometimes it's slower. Sometimes it's faster. But we will not know that right away. I know that for sure. But that is a process that we'll be moving forward, we'll begin immediately as soon as he gets here.
Q. Mentioning the in-state connection, in particular Indianapolis, just how pleased are you to be able to pick up a number of guys -- and I know rankings aren't everything -- that do land at or near the top of kind of the state rankings list?
COACH ALLEN: Well, you said it. It's in-state guys that are really good football players. And Indiana is not a massive state numbers-wise, there's a lot of other states that have more schools, more athletes than we do. So you've got to make sure that you can really target those key guys that you believe are Big Ten football players and guys that can help you win football games in the Big Ten and go after them. And to be able to get a big chunk of those guys in the top 10 in our state is big for me.
And guys at schools that from the Indianapolis area as well as north that play good football and have guys that we felt like were worthy of being here. And so I just think you can't put, can't say enough great things about that. That's important to me. Always has been. Always will be. And still want to continue to work hard to get more guys from in state. So make sure we're getting the guys that fit our profile and guys that we can help us achieve our goals and they can come here and achieve their goals. Big deal for me, yes.
Q. Can you maybe just explain Juan Harris and leaving and coming back? Obviously he's committed several different times. Explain why bring a kid back that's left once and committed several different times?
COACH ALLEN: For me we went through a long process in regards to evaluating his situation and looked at things as they happen when he was here and know his history. And just know his upbringing and the things that he's been through.
And so to be able to -- it was really a collective group effort for me to go through and talk to a lot of folks and spend time with them and have him come. We brought him on official visits so he could spend time with individuals here.
And sometimes when you have a chance to go to the environment that he went to when he left here, it was a wake-up call in a lot of ways and to realize what you have. And then when you choose to go somewhere else and you don't have those things anymore, and you realize how blessed you really were and how the opportunities you had -- so I think it's called growing up.
But at the same time he's got to be able to, as we've given him a second chance here, and he and I have spent a lot of time talking about that, and we're going to do everything we can to be able to get him the resources to be successful. And I feel like he has a skill set, has some things that can help this program. And I believe that we have some things that we can do here to help him.
So it's kind of a dual benefit. And to me it's about really challenging young men to grow and to develop and become who I believe they were created to be. So that's on him to come back here and prove that I was right in giving him a second chance.
Q. In the last class, you really emphasized speed. Was there a certain attribute that you were targeting for this class, or was it more based on need? What was the approach there?
COACH ALLEN: Speed's the mainstay. We gotta have that as a priority. I love the running back room that we are creating here in the last few years and the guys that were already here and think that's always going to be a priority for us is the speed, speed in the back end, being able to get some secondary guys. You do notice we did sign a lot of DBs last year. So numerically we were not going to be able to sign as many this year. We'd like to potentially sign one more in the next cycle before February.
But really emphasize defensive line because of graduation. And still need to address some of those needs. We lost four inside guys and a guy on the outside. And so really huge priority was there.
And offensive line, we got a couple that we're really excited about -- Michael Katic and Matthew Bedford that signed with us today, that -- they're both mid-year guys which is huge to get them in our weight room in January.
And so need to create a couple more. And then sign the guy that could go either side in Antoine. But to me, it's absolutely imperative that we get big guys. And we lost some. And we've got to replace those. So that's why this is a pretty balanced group. We've got a couple of backers in here that I really, really like, you know, Kervin's a guy, he's actually out of Canada, but he played high school football in Clearwater, Florida. And Cam Williams, a guy that, Indiana guy from Andrean High School.
So, length and speed. Both guys, 6'3", one is a little bit bigger than the other one, but they can both run.
And Sio, I don't begin to pronounce his last name. You guys can have fun with that. I just call him Sio. That's safe. He's a guy that's actually from American Samoa and he's from Australia, but he goes to school in Clearwater, Florida.
Brought his dad for the official visit. He flew all the way from Australia -- awesome, awesome family. Just love that kid. Big, 320 pounds. And he's strong and just a great, young man. You're going to enjoy getting to know -- we've got a lot of high-quality guys in this class that -- really, really good people that we enjoy recruiting and enjoy being around. Trying to get big guys on offense and speed on defense and big guys in the core on defense and some length at receiver and speed at receiver.
So just the running back room, the quarterback room. It's a little bit of everything in this class, which is what you've got to do. I thought last year's class was the same way had a little bit of everything. Had to address a lot of areas of the need for sure, but then you also make sure you're always constantly building the roster step-by-step, day-by-day, year-by-year.
Q. With the five spots left, you want to take a defensive back and some more guys in the trenches. Is there anything else you're focusing on for February?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, I would just say -- and sometimes you don't want to pigeonhole yourself because, trust me, this thing changes by the day. But when you look at the numbers and what we set out to sign, you try to get a couple more offensive linemen. And you'd like to get a defensive lineman and like to be able to get a receiver. Like to be able to get a DB.
So if I just had to say right now that's the goal. Those are the spots we still feel like, and those can be, trust me, it can evolve different ways. But you know you've got five. That's the guarantee thing that we do have and we have to work within that structure.
And so we'll work really, really hard between now and February 6 to be able to come up with the best five guys we can to meet those needs. And also sometimes you just say, hey, take the best available. Sometimes that's a variable that comes into play.
Sometimes you can't take a certain position because, man, we just can't pass this guy up even though it might not be an area, that I might have even said right now. But at the same time I do know that it will be no more than five.
Q. You've now stacked two classes on top of each other that by this program's standards are better than what IU is used to. How soon can you expect these two classes back to back to make the difference in winning some of these close games?
COACH ALLEN: That's obviously the hope and the expectation. And I've said it all along that it takes time to build it. When you're building your foundation and you're developing that foundation and you're doing it, I believe the right way for us and that's bringing in guys that need time in the weight room. They need spring football. They need the summer workouts. They need everything that we do year-round.
So to me, you know, I want to have it happen in 2019. And that's my expectation. And obviously I want it to happen in 2018. And once again, we're right there on the verge. But you know, you still didn't have the mature depth that you need. I think the depth was better than the year before, you know, but it was young depth. And young depth is better than no depth, but it also needs to be developed.
So to me that is -- you know, we've got to keep stacking. We've got to do this next year. That's what it has to be. Because I know that's who we play against, teams that have that kind of depth and have those kind of guys that have done it year after year after year. And both Dave Ballou and Dr. A have not even been here for a whole year yet. So just to continue to have them spending time with them and working with them and getting stronger and faster and bigger.
And even having another year with our -- Isaac's our nutrition guy that does an awesome job. He's only been here for this one year, and get another chance to get those guys -- and like I say we just -- I already -- I spent the whole -- ever since I was done this morning we've been talking with 2020 and 21s on the phone, getting those guys to call us and spend time with them and invite them to come in January and February and we're going to go by and see them.
I use the January recruiting period as like my spring recruiting. I can't go out in spring. We'll have a systematic ways to get to these. So once again we're working as we have been all fall is the younger guys, too.
So recruiting is the key. And then you get them here. You've got to develop them. So that's what I really am passionate about because I know that we're smarter coaches when we've got better players. The blitz works better when the blitzer can finish the play. The routes run better when the guy throwing it and the guy catching, you know, is a really good football player.
And I just think that you can kind of talk about it all you want but we've got to just keep doing what we're doing and keep recruiting, keep putting class upon class. It's going to be important these next five spots are going to be big. Those could be the five guys that could be the difference in next season.
But to answer your question, the reality is that none of us are as patient as we should be and I'm not either. And so I want to start seeing the benefits of that in the fall. And that's going to take a lot of hard work. Get these young guys ready to play. But we've got guys that have been here and have been here several years now. And it's time for them to continue to grow and develop. We've got some young guys that gotta have a great offseason and step up and fill in some voids on the offseason graduating and I expect them to do that. Some of them might be in the freshman class we just signed today or might be guys we signed last year or the year before that. But that's where the depth has to come to fruition, and we've got to do a great job of developing it.
Q. Last year you guys dipped into the grad transfer market a little bit. Two-part question: Do you see maybe yourself doing it this year? If so, could you get guys in for the spring semester and does it take away from the five you have left in your class?
COACH ALLEN: Great question. To answer your question yes, it would take away from the five. That's how it would, with the numbers. Basically you get so many initials you can bring in; if the guy comes in from being at a previous school, whether he came by grad transfer or by high school graduation or whatever, just regular transfer, then he would count as one of those 25.
That's one part of the evaluation process you go through and maybe you say you don't get what you really want in these next couple months, and then you say -- or before we go to the February signing -- you say, okay, let's go ahead and save one of those spots for a potential grad transfer.
So that is obviously on the table for a couple spots where you feel like you would have a chance to. The negative of that is you just don't know. You don't know who is going to be available. You don't know who you can get.
And so sometimes you take a chance in that way and there's very few that come mid-year. That pool is pretty small. But there would definitely be a much larger pool after I would assume after spring ball and guys decide certain things about where they're at in their current roster and everything.
I would say all that stuff is, all those options are out there for me. And we're just trying to find the best five guys that fit our needs right now and help us be successful in next season and beyond.
Q. In terms of guys who have already been here like DaVondre Love announcing he's going to remain with the team and play next year, and you held a spot open for LeShaun Minor. Do you have any kind of updates about guys like that, or do they count in the current --
COACH ALLEN: I do. Now, the one thing, as you mentioned with DaVondre, he and I had some good heart to hearts lately, and it's something that's between he and I. But I'm excited that he's going to be spending his fifth year here with us. And I think that that's a thing that -- and I want to see him -- I challenged him in our meeting, there's some things I want to see him do, to be able to finish strong here in his final season. So he will be rejoining us.
And LeShaun Minor is still a guy that we're working with his health situation. And just don't know yet where he stands. Continuing to work with that. But that remains to be seen, if he'll be able to return with us. The hope is he will for sure. But don't know yet.
Also, to add to that, Craig Nelson has decided to transfer. And he'll be playing elsewhere. And wish him nothing but the best. He's come here, done a great job for us and did everything we asked him to do. So he'll have an opportunity to go and play, he'll be transferred this semester.
And then T.D. Roof is a young man that has had a series of injuries, and he's just chosen to really walk away from football. And so going to have to have surgery in this offseason and just kind of weary of all that. And he and I had a really good talk and talked with his family and wish him nothing but the best and appreciate what he did here. But he's not going to play anywhere else, just going to no longer be with us.
But at this point right now that's the only changes that I know of and everybody else will be with us here and working hard to do something special here real soon.
Q. You've opened the south end zone, the locker room renovation is happening. Obviously recruiting and on-field development is always going to be part of it. But what else would you like to kind of see this program maybe take the next step forward, and -- off the field as you do bring in more of these classes that maybe you feel like with guys that fit what you're trying to do and then obviously from a rankings perspective seem to be kind of a step up from what Indiana has done in the recent past?
COACH ALLEN: I think it all fits together. I think when you look at -- when you have a vision for this place, what I see is being able to -- and I met with Fred Glass about these things, and he and I are on the same page, is to be able to -- now the south end zone is completed and everything kind of shifts a little bit that way towards the entrance of the stadium and a lot of the athletes that come here to have all the resources that we have now for everyone, which is awesome.
But to really make this, the north end zone side to be really the football entrance and just that to be -- just really do a great job of making that feel special, making that feel like this is the football facility at Indiana University and to me that's a big deal. We've talked that through and we're on the same page. I see that coming -- we're about to get the new locker room finished and that will be done by the fall and a new players' lounge, which we've never had a players' lounge like that before, which is what we really, really need. And the new training room will be football only there underneath the stands and just all the stuff that will come along.
It's just the way that that looks and the way it feels, and the way -- when you come into that area, this is -- it's very clearly defined as the football facility. And I think that's important. And that's kind of the vision for it moving forward to be able to get those things done here. And when guys come on campus they see that, they feel that.
And I think that's important. And everyone needs to understand that football is a priority. It's obviously a priority to me. And that's what I feel in my heart that the direction that we're going. And that that helps with recruiting. And there's no question players got to make plays, coaches gotta coach. But to attract guys here, you know, the south end zone is huge. The new locker room is huge. And even this room right here, the renovation we did here, it's a completely different feel when you walk in here from what it was in the past.
That all is part of it and from there you just grow into doing things that make it feel like that this place is special and football is really, really important. And that to me is what we're doing. And obviously we've got to get it done on the field. And that to me is the next step for us. Beyond the other stuff it's about getting it done on the field and winning these close games and finishing them out and being able to feel good about all the hard work that we put in. Because we work our tails off and that's not going to stop.
Q. Staffing-wise, have you made any changes? Do you expect any changes? With that, have you maybe delegated some of those defensive coordinator roles that we talked about after the Purdue game?
COACH ALLEN: I was asked that after the Purdue game. At this point no changes made. But definitely right now the whole focus has been recruiting. 100 percent. That's absolutely been -- we literally left that game, had an official visit that weekend going on during those couple of days, finished that one up in the morning on Sunday and really have never looked back since.
And we spent very few nights in Bloomington in that time period. And so really have been working hard to get this class where it needed to be. And so basically now, once we kind of get into this phase here, you know, I would say to be able to address some of those issues and things that I answered before. So that will get more of my attention at this time.
But haven't made any changes or anything, don't have anything with the defense at all. But I think you know how -- I haven't changed what I felt about that.
Q. I know you fight off a lot of guys, a lot of teams with your commits. I was asked today on the radio about who was the biggest get, and I said Matthew Bedford because of who you had to fight off at the end to keep a guy that's really been hard for a school like Indiana to get, a long, athletic SEC-type lineman, how hard was it to keep a hold of him with those schools coming after him?
COACH ALLEN: I would have to agree with you. He was the most challenging get as of this morning, to be able to fight to the bitter end. And that's from the world I came from.
And I know how that is there. And he's in SEC country and lives there. And he's long and athletic and has a lot of upside to him, and therefore, there were two in particular programs that went after him extremely hard. And we were both side by side. You got a lot of crazy recruiting stories and all. But just kind of reminded me back to when I was back down there at another school and you show up at an event and the other staff is right there and you're not doing this but you're doing this.
You really are, because you're fighting for position and time and all the little things you're trying to do, and yet be professional and first class and all that.
But it was a battle. There's no doubt. And Bill Inge did a phenomenal job with the family. And Coach Hiller did a great job with the family as well. But with the young men, have just really -- because sometimes what happens is -- and I think this is one of our strengths. I just think -- people ask me how do you get some of these guys? I said, you know what, we just be who we are, we be real.
And everybody wants to kind of bad mouth people and say negative things about this or that, and we just talk about how we're going to help develop your son as a man, as a student-athlete and as a football player. That's all we focus on.
I don't even say anything -- I don't want to say things negative. And that's not everybody's approach. And so but when you just develop relationships and they know that you're going to love their son more as a person than as a player, it resonates.
And you can just say that. But they know and they learn, this particular family, that that isn't just talk; that is real. Because they have people that they know that are here now, that have lived it and are on our team.
And that everything that we said to them is true. And we're going to just be very up front and honest with them and be genuine and real and just show them what it's like to be here.
Nobody's perfect, no place is. But you find people that they care about, the things that you care about. And when that links together, you've got a family that wants those things for their son and we've got a world-class education that the young man is going to get at Indiana. It's one of our strengths, and it definitely resonates and the way they're going to be treated here and the kind of culture we've created here.
And LEO is not just a little phrase on the wall. It's genuinely heartfelt that we're going to help teach you and surround you with individuals that are going to care more about the guys around them than themselves.
That sounds all great, but sometimes it's just talk. And it's not true. Everybody talks about having a family atmosphere. I get it, it's hard to build that. It's tough when you're trying to go through -- and we have a situation here, we've got some young guys or playing in front of older guys. And it's tough on the older guys.
But as I tell them, best players are going to play. We played 14 true freshmen this year. And if there's more freshmen that are ready to play next year, then they're going to play too. Hopefully get to the point where all the guys they're developed and they're talented and they make it hard for those freshmen to come in and play.
But you know what, you're going to have that opportunity. We are going to tell them that's the way it's going to be. Sometimes there's growing pains with that for where we want to be. But I think getting a guy like that, it was head to head, toe to toe, going against some top teams down in that part of the country in a different conference, that in the past we probably haven't won many of those battles.
But relationships, we're strong. And at the end of the day they won out. And we have a product here that that family wanted. And so therefore -- and sometimes, if another family doesn't want that or that's not important, there may be a different result.
But it takes a lot of effort. Takes a whole lot of time, a lot of investment, and it's already started with kids for the future, and that's one reason why we've recruited the way we have.
But we've just got to continue and gotta keep getting, doing a better, and better job, finding ways to improve, which is probably the best we've done in regards to our recruiting and the organization of the signing day and the way it's presented, the way it looks, all the signings that we have and the staff we've added and all the graphics and all the things that we do, the social media, those are all part of this.
And it wasn't that way when I first got here. And so we've changed a lot of that stuff. And that stuff matters. So I just think it takes a whole lot of people and it's investment from our athletic administration to invest in those positions and adding people and adding recruiting personnel and just doing the things that we have to do.
So those are things -- I've been from that arena where recruiting was just so much a priority and it was such the thing that we spent so much time in. I've tried to hire individuals that have seen it. They know what that looks like. And it makes a difference, I think, in how you go after a player and relate to them and get them connected with us and you can maximize social media to be able to -- that's where the kids live on all that media.
So I think all those things are part of it. And that helps us attract guys. And when those tough battles come, the night before signing day, and the morning of signing day, that you can withstand the test that's going to come there and they stay strong and they decide to sign with us.
Q. From an offensive philosophy, you've shown a preference for quarterbacks that are more dual threat. With the signing of Tuttle, is that any kind of a change in that philosophy, or do you see him more as an added option, an added threat to your offense?
COACH ALLEN: Here's what I would say, what I've consistently said, is that I want a quarterback that's a passer first and that can beat you with his legs. And I believe from looking and studying what Jack can do, he's a very accurate passer, very good passer in his ability to make all the throws, but he's a guy that can beat you with his legs. And to me, it's escapability, pure and simple.
And if a guy has the ability to do some more, designed quarterback runs, then those become a little bit more. But they can never be too heavy. Because that creates sometimes extra hits that you don't want that guy to take. So you want to balance that out. And obviously he'll do more of that or less of that based on his skill set.
But the escapability part, and once he drops back, when he has the ability to beat you with his legs, once he drops back, that's a game-changer. That's what this guy can do. That's what all the quarterbacks on our roster can do.
And that to me will be a constant. I think you just have to -- sometimes a guy's going to be a little more of a runner, but the passing part has got to be consistent. And that's we're trying to get to. And really excited about the addition of him to our team and what he brings. And competition makes everybody better. Period.
Q. You talked about building relationships as being a strength and genuineness being a strength. Should that not only just be enhanced? You've been head coach for two years. Now you're going to be -- you're getting to know kids as freshmen or sophomores. You have more time -- when you first got in here, it was kids that you hadn't had a lot of time to get to know. So how much do you feel that your strengths will be even enhanced having now more years in place, more years to build relationships?
COACH ALLEN: I think it's a huge plus, because you sit down with a young man now that we've recruited, and I was involved in that recruiting as the head coach. I know his family. I've sat in his living room.
I know grandma, aunts and uncles and siblings. And before I'd never even met them. We have seniors on our team, just because of the nature how it works, you just don't know them. They may be from a different state.
And so there's no question that I think that that's a big part of that. And I'll be honest with you, that's kind of part of my mindset with the possibility of not being the play-caller on defense on game day, even though I'll always stay very involved with defense. That's never going to change.
But the ability to have the time to be able to be with our players and meet with our players and invest more in our players, I think it's important, because once again it's not -- I never understood as a high school coach, and I definitely don't understand it today, when a guy says or a coach ever says that we have to derecruit a guy once we get him on campus.
I've heard that a bunch of times. And all that tells me is that whatever I sold you on during the recruiting process, when you get here, that ain't how it's going to be. Well, to me that should never be that way.
Now, if I'm honest with them and I'm genuine and I'm real with them, the same guy that recruited him is the same guy that's going to coach him. That's not always the case.
So, there's no question that you have got to eliminate whatever you did in high school because that doesn't mean anything now. I get all that. But as far as how you treat them and how you talk to them, to me different. But I'm telling you that's not the case.
But to me, when you're so wrapped up in schema all the time, I can't -- one of my strengths is relationship building, I can't do that as well as I want to.
I feel like you've got to balance that. I always say I'm always going to be involved on defense, that's my heart and passion, and all that for sure. But I also want to be able to be the father figure that I want to be to these young men during the day and during the week and during game week, when things are really crazy and the schedule's tight and everything's a lot going on.
And so I just want to make sure that I can have a good feel for the whole team and whether it's specialist or offense or defense. And really be able to dive into it and be more connected that way. That's kind of how I see that.
But I do think when you know them better, yeah. So it all to me can be a positive thing, to be able to help me hold guys accountable. And sometimes it's being tough on them, too. But I'll tell them that the recruiting process. Because I tell them coaching and parenting is the same. There's going to be tough love at times. There's going to be discipline. There's going to be putting an arm around the guy, crying with them, laughing with them, whatever, but that's part of a family. That's what relationships are all about.
So to me the more I can do that and the more it can be me -- because I think we have to get mentally tougher and physically tougher. And that's part of, once again, I can push guys harder and be tougher on them, the more connected I am with them. And the more I am -- that they really know and understand and have spent some time with me to help them grow as a man and work through life. And that's just part of what we deal with as coaches. And you get guys here and they gotta go to class and deal with issues and handle all that's going on. And I think that's a part of all that goes into being a coach. And I want to be the best I can be at all that.
Q. I know it's early. Are there guys in this class that you kind of have already identified as feeling like you could see them contribute soon? Obviously a guy like Tuttle maybe as a transfer, has college experience, but are there guys that maybe through the process you said: I really think he's going to have some skills that could translate pretty quickly?
COACH ALLEN: Well, probably too early to mention names in regards to that. Obviously if a guy comes in, we only have one young man was a junior college guy, one's played two years of college football, one with us and one at a junior college, so you expect him to come in and be ready to help and play for sure. The guys -- like a guy like Jack, if he's able to play in the fall, you expect a guy like that, that's not a true freshman, although this will only be his second year out of high school. But the rest of the guys, to me, it's about who comes in here and takes advantage of the opportunity they've been given.
And I think there's a bunch of guys, like I said, we had 14 last year that contributed and played as true freshmen. So I don't see that number being a whole lot different with this group. I think it's going to be in that range of a dozen guys or so that they'll come, and I don't really know who that's going to be.
I know you've got certain rankings and that doesn't mean a whole lot. But that's what somebody else thought they should come in and play. I guess the guy is a four star, probably think they should come in play pretty early, right?
But once again as I said I don't rank those things. But at the same time I understand why they do. Good players. So we'll see. Sometimes those guys come in here and they get redshirted. Sometimes they come in here -- and I wouldn't have sit here told you Stevie Scott was going to rush over a thousand yards.
Someone asked me if I was shocked. Yes, I was shocked. I'll tell you the truth. Pleasantly surprised. Awesome, great. But did I predict it? No. So you just never know. He even got here in July. He wasn't even -- he was here half the amount of time as the rest of the freshmen. You just never know. That's why you recruit and develop and when you get them here you coach them hard and love them hard and help them ready to play in the fall and hopefully they'll prove that we were good evaluators of talent.
Q. Sampson James is one of the highest ranked recruits Indiana has ever landed. Speak to what that means, what kind of player he is and how might he complement Stevie Scott and the other young backs you've got?
COACH ALLEN: Really excited about Sampson. I've intentionally not mentioned everybody by name; we'll be here all day. But you asked him a question about him. Really special young man. Known him. Recruited his older brother to a previous school. He was in that home when I was there to take multiple visits, got to really know him at that point.
He grew older. And you end up getting into high school and got to know him. And his high school team, with Mark Bless [phonetic], would come to camp here every year, got to see him in that setting. We've been recruiting him for a long time. And I was really disappointed when he committed to Ohio State. We took the approach we're going to respect it and talked to him about it, said, hey, you made your decision, and I know it's still early and all. We didn't harass him, but we stayed with him, subtly stayed with him, and let him know that we're still here and sent him some messages. And sometimes he responded and sometimes he wouldn't. But it wasn't like -- he was all in to go to Ohio State. But at the same time, we just stayed the course.
So bottom line was I felt like I knew the kid. I knew his upbringing at home. I knew his situation. I knew about his toughness. I knew about his work ethic in the weight room. I knew the kind of character he had and knew he was a really good football player.
To me to be able to have a guy like him of his caliber to come here -- and he really was hindered by an early season injury that really was never totally fixed and he kind of struggled throughout the whole season to get over it and to get healthy and everything.
So really probably didn't show what I know he's totally going show when he gets here. But just you can't have enough running backs. You gotta come in here and gotta be able to have depth and we've added depth and those guys are going to compete, and we try to rotate guys in there. And obviously Stevie took off this year.
But you never know. And so obviously you go with somebody else and with Morgan's situation, and so bottom line was we addressed the need and I just couldn't be more thrilled to have a guy like -- just the fact that he believes in us and he chose to come here. Like I say, we didn't harass him and beg him and everything. We were just respectful to him of his decision and very genuine who we are, and we haven't changed. And he loved who we are. And it was his decision to come back and to say you know what, this is where I want to be; this is where I want to call home and this is where I want to play and I can achieve all my goals at Indiana, which is the things we told him all along.
Once he came to the realization that's what he believed, too, this is where he called home. Just think getting an in-state guy to come to Indiana of his caliber is a big deal. And hats off to Mike Hart -- and Dave Ballou played a big role. He used to be at Avon High School as the strength coach in years past, that's where we met. And a lot of things went into it, not just one. But keeping our best players home is a big priority, that's going to stay a priority in this very next class. And already had those conversations today with several key guys from our state that are 2020s and '21s.
Excited about Sampson coming here. Going to be a mid-year guy. He'll be here with us in January and he's starting to work.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports