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INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 18, 2019
TOM ALLEN: We were talking as we were walking down here, a totally different feel with all that's going on, getting ready for a bowl game, other things that you got to deal with that. Then you just kind of slip in a very important day. Still doesn't diminish how big it is and how important each signing class is for your program and for your future.
Before that, I want to congratulate Brandon Shelby and his wife Jen for their new baby girl that was born yesterday, which is awesome, really happy for them. Appreciate all their hard work for our program. Obviously he's with his family right now. Wasn't at practice today. Shouldn't have been. So he needs to be with his family. Happy for them.
Also just want to congratulate Kalen DeBoer on the opportunity he's been given at Fresno State. Really appreciate all he's done for our program, him coming here, doing such a great job. Such a first class person, husband and father. Very much worthy of being a head coach, Division I level. I know I really want to thank him and really wish him nothing but the best.
Our goal, we've talked, is for him to call the offense during the bowl game. That's the intent for us to make that work. Things we have to work through to get to that point. We've talked to both administrations with that, trying to make sure we can coordinate that, do our best to allow him to do the job he needs to do there, also be able to finish strong here. It's been a special season, he wants to finish that out.
Want to congratulate Fred Glass on his retirement. Want to thank him publicly for all he's done for the program, all of athletes here at Indiana. Just to be able to represent the football program under his leadership, I want to thank him for all he's done for us, the foundation that's been laid for the future of all programs here.
Also the class. Really excited about this group. I feel like it kind of embodies, even though it's not a very high number class, we knew it was going to be a smaller class with our numbers that we're losing, but at the same time heavy on the offensive line, which it needed to be.
Also just kind of a little bit of a good flavor at each position. We had a chance to address those needs, guys that would be graduating. Like the length of the class. If you notice, there's nobody listed under six foot. Got some length at skill positions on both sides of the football, a lot of length on the offensive line which is important to be able to develop and get these guys where they need to be.
Really believe in our strength and conditioning program, our nutrition program. Invested in that. That allows us to be able to bring young men in here that have a structure and body type physically you're looking for. The character fit that you're looking for, be able to plug those guys into the system, develop them as an athlete, which involves being a student first.
High-character guy that wants to be developed in his leadership and character, decision making in life. Ultimately in the weight room where our strength staff spends so much time with them. Trying to find guys that fit those three qualities for us, feel like this class has been able to address those needs, allow us to continue to build on the foundation that we laid here with the first two classes, allow a very young football team to be added to with this class.
Q. There's a few guys you're still going after. I think you still have a few spots, February signing day. Between now and then are there a couple of types of players you'd like to get?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I would say as you go through, you look, we have two spots available, which is kind of what you like to have, some wiggle room with that.
I would say definitely looking for a rush end, a priority for us, to continue and pursue that. Position, I would say best available on offense. That would be the way I would describe that. Could be a variety of positions, game-changer tight end, a dynamic runningback, dynamic receiver, have to get the ball in his hands.
You don't have a whole lot of spots, but to be able -- if you say we were looking for something like that, if you find that, we'd be interested for sure. We'll be looking at those types of options.
Q. It seemed like there might be a few midyear guys in this class. Who do you expect in midyear? Are there guys that you see, you kind of put a pin in them and say I'm going to keep an eye on them early in terms of his ability to impact right away?
TOM ALLEN: First of all, we have the opportunity to have nine of these guys be midyear guys, which would be a record number since I've been here. We'll get that list finalized, make that public later. At the same time that gives them a tremendous advantage.
That goes into the next part of your question of who can come in and make a difference, have an opportunity to help us earlier. I think that opportunity, Matt Bedford would be an example of that, came at midyear a year ago. It was the difference in him being ready when called upon to be able to play. Probably wouldn't have been ready had he not had that opportunity.
Once we get that group squared away, there's several still in the process of getting some things done for that, we could have as many as nine out of this class joining us midyear.
Q. Obviously Coach Hiller had a good performance this season with the offensive line. As far as recruiting goes, it was very offensive line heavy. What is your evaluation of his performance on the recruiting trail for this cycle specifically?
TOM ALLEN: I think you go through it, what we try to do is identify certain body types, whether an inside guy, outside guy. Inside meaning a guy that can play guard or center. An outside guy who has length to play tackle. It was a priority for us to get some high school guys that could do that.
Luke Wiginton is a guy out of high school here in Indiana that has the length. Obviously needs to develop and get stronger and all that.
Basically you want to recruit the things that you can't change. They're not going to usually get much taller once you get them here.
Luke Haggard, also a guy that just joined our class here at the end. As a junior college guy, qualifies out of high school, a guy that plays a lot of defense, goes to offense when he goes to junior college. 6'7", lean, but an athletic skill set.
I feel like those two guys kind of give us that length you are looking for.
You have a guy inside, Randy Holtz, he's a guy you can say can do both. Nice to be able to have a guy that can be in both of those spots. 6'7", 350 plus pounds. A rather large human being.
I also like the inside guys we got. Cam Knight, Brandon's younger brother, comes to camp, good athlete, ran well, change of direction, strong, tough. We know what we're getting because of his brother, the family, mindset he's going to be for us.
Brady Feeney is a big old guard, 320-pound guy, got a girth in there. Coach did a really good job of identifying these types of bodies that we're looking for for each spot.
We said it would be nice to have an older guy. That's where Dylan Powell gives us a chance to get a grad transfer from Stanford. Excellent student that's going to come here as a grad transfer, done with his undergraduate. I think he gives us a chance to kind of fill some of those holes you have in the upper part of our class that I feel like over time have kind of been creative with some injuries and caused guys not to be able to finish.
I feel like Coach Hiller understood that, addressed our needs. I really like our offensive line class.
Q. Last couple recruiting classes have been built heavily on kids from Florida. It's kind of surprising there's not any this year. Just coincidental? Any sort of explanation for that?
TOM ALLEN: No, probably just coincidental. You have a bunch of guys we recruited down there. We'll keep going down there in Phase II, in January. Happened to be that way. We obviously have a whole bunch on our roster. I'm sure we'll have some here in the future.
No, obviously always going to be a huge priority for us. Got nine different states represented. Got guys from all across the country. The bottom line is we're going to go where we got to go to find the best fit, the guys that end up signing with us, want to be here. Florida is always going to be a priority.
Q. Recruiting is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor. You've been involved in that for a long time. As the head coach now, differences between that first season, this season? More of a comfort level or difference in style of recruiting?
TOM ALLEN: I think for me, I've become more probably stringent on just the fit. I've always talked about it. It's been proven over and again the last few years how critical that is once you get them here. Their chance of success with you goes way up when they fit the kind of guy you're looking for in regards.
As I explain it to our recruits and their families, the things that you value as a family, the things that you list as the most important things to me when I'm looking for a school, when those match up with the values of the program, it's a really good fit. That's where it's going to give you lasting power with a young man that's going to come here.
I tell them that it's not going to be easy, it's going to be hard. If you don't understand that, you've been misled. Things aren't going to go your way, when things get hard, tough, are you going to stay and fight. When you believe in your heart that this is home, this is where used supposed to be, this is where you want to be, then you fight and you stay, you persevere, basically start to develop grit, which is what we think is a critical part of this program.
I would say stronger than ever how critical that is. If I don't feel good about that, I don't care about how good a player he is, I'm leery to bring him in here.
You kind of get a little more conviction driven on some of that stuff. Also you try to do a better job of projecting. Once you kind of know the model of a young man that has success here, you feel more comfortable saying this guy reminds us of this guy, you think he has a chance to help us on the field or off the field, the way they fit with us.
Q. I think Dylan Powell missed all of last year. A hope he could have one more year than just the one? Why do you want an older guy in this class?
TOM ALLEN: There is. You don't know about those. They have to apply for those once they get through their eligibility. The projection would be very high probability. We're hoping to get two more with him.
The answer to that as to why is because we have a strong senior class of offensive linemen, but lost some guys in that junior class. To me it was important to be able to at least address that position, that age. We didn't want to bring in more than we did, a certain number of high school guys. You wanted to be able to space them out a little bit.
That to me, we always look at our classes, a big graph, try to go through and project who you're going to lose, where the holes are. It always takes time to get that flushed out over time.
We're still in certain positions not where we need to be yet. Heavy in some spots. You want to get a little more dispersement early so you don't have a bunch of guys leaving at one time.
We're not totally imbalanced right now. A couple more cycles to get to that point. Right now we're super heavy in younger groups. Our junior class is the smallest class of our whole team. We'll have a smaller class next year. A current number of sophomores and freshmen on our team right now.
That's why we didn't want to take too many O-linemen out of high school because it kind of gets your numbers a little bit off.
Q. What sold you on Dexter Williams? Having four scholarship quarterbacks next year, how important is that?
TOM ALLEN: Well, first of all, I think we've learned that you better have several. Guys get hurt, things happen. We've decided to go through and make sure we had that fourth guy on this football team that's on scholarship.
The thing that stuck out to me about him, initially when you watched his film, is his arm strength. To me kind of just become stronger, stronger believer in that the arm talent piece is such a big deal. He has the Big Ten arm talent, then the ability to extend plays with his legs. He gives you that. He has the thickness and girth to be able to play in this conference. 200 pounds coming out of high school. Going to be a midyear guy. Get a chance to have that whole extra semester of development.
When you meet him, get to know him and his family, he just has that special charisma about him that you want from a guy that is the face of your team in the future at that position. Go on campus, meet everybody at this school, they just rave about him. We joked about him being the mayor of the whole area because everybody just loves him.
The same constant thing, his character, his leadership, the way he treats people every day. That's the kind of guys you want in that position because they represent you. They get in front of the media, talk. Have to be able to do a great job with that.
I can just see him being that kind of guy, also kind of a guy that understood our roster, where we were, who is in front of him, what he's going to need to do when he comes here, to be able to invest in his development, be able to understand that.
I think that's a big key for a lot of guys in this class. We have a young football team. When you go through and recruit, they see all these freshmen and sophomores in front of them, a little different dynamic than the last couple years. You have to really kind of maneuver that as well, to be able to get them to understand the reality of what they need to do to come here.
We talk a lot about guys that have a high ceiling, guys that have the length you can build on and develop, allow them to be able to know I'm going to come here invest in this program, all that we're being asked to do, when my time is called, I'm going to be ready to be a Big Ten football player.
Q. Only 24 hours, but have you had thoughts about what you're looking for in a new offensive coordinator? Do you consider internal candidates, a national search?
TOM ALLEN: I would just say this. Our biggest focus right now, I told this to our team, we had our first team meeting this morning after the news came out, so talked to our guys about it, celebrated it with them.
As I told them, I said I believe in what we're doing offensively. We have a system in place that our guys have bought into, have executed at a high level. We got a very young football team. A lot of our offensive guys are going to be back for next year, a vast majority.
To me, without going any further into this, I'll just say I do want to keep the same system. I think that's very important. I feel like I don't want to have a new system, it would be the third one in three years for our quarterbacks. I don't think that's in our best interest.
To be able to stay true to that is really to me, from a system perspective, going to be the key.
Q. Is that something where someone internal would be more appealing or is it more the idea whether it's internal or external you're looking for somebody who brings those concepts, looking for those scheme advantages?
TOM ALLEN: I would say more specific to keeping the concepts the same. Kind of lead you to either/or options. We do have some guys on staff that can do a great job. At the same time to me it's more about being able to be consistent conceptually that we don't have dramatic changes.
Q. From a recruiting aspect, when something happens like your offensive coordinator leaves so close to signing day, does that require any extra phone calls to players to reassure them they're going to come here and get the same experience?
TOM ALLEN: It does, yeah. It's a good question. We do make those phone calls, to be very proactive about that. Be up front and honest with them.
I was the one to talk to those guys. My whole thing was that I wanted to make sure they knew, first of all, that's the path that I was on. I was an assistant. Assistants want a chance to have coordinators. Coordinators want to have a chance to be head coaches.
You have success at a high level, people are going to want your guys. That's a compliment to what you're doing. We talked about that to our recruits, guys that hadn't signed yet, but getting ready to sign. I don't think any one of them wavered. We made those phone calls, made sure they heard from us, knew they were committed.
I get these questions a lot in recruiting, Coach, how long are they going to be here? Everybody wants to know. I said the key is the head coach. Head coach changes, everything changes. To me, you're going to have the chance of every single position coach and coordinator, in your four or five years here, being the exact same guy is probably not realistic in terms of how this game works. Guys get opportunity.
We got a talented coaching staff. Those guys are going to have opportunities to move forward. There will be others in the future. That's okay. You just have to be ready for that.
Obviously timing was not ideal. At the same time I understood why they did it, because they needed to move forward with their program. That's understandable. That's part of what you have to deal with. Definitely creates some uncertainty for guys. You have to be proactive with that, be open and honest with them.
Q. Talk about Rashawn Williams a little bit, what he means from the receiving perspective?
TOM ALLEN: Rashawn to me is just a very talented young man. Love his work ethic. Man, I tell you, he's a worker. I just think he has a chance to come here and really dive into all that we have for him, in his development. He's 6'2", 200 pounds that has strong hands, runs good routes, makes a lot of tough, contested catches. He's a competitor. Also has a great charisma about him, personality.
He was a guy that really kind of took the class, early guy, committed, major recruiter for us, just getting guys onboard, getting group texts together. Kind of has that personality about him.
There's several guys in this class that have that. He was probably the leader in regards. He is texting, we got this guy and this guy we have to look at. Really aggressive about wanting to build his class. I just love that. That just shows a guy that cares, gets it. It's not just about him, he's better when he has better guys around him. I think he comes here understanding that mindset.
I do think he's got a chance to be a lot better player than he is right now. I think he's a guy that can really grow and develop. Coach Heard is going to do a great job coaching him, getting in that weight room, getting his body to change in that regard. He's got a good frame. Like his length. I just love the fact that he just goes and gets the ball.
Q. Has Coy Cronk made a decision on what he plans to do for next year and/or any other players that are fourth-year guys that have another year of eligibility, decided what they're going to do?
TOM ALLEN: With regards to Coy, he's working really hard to get back. I know obviously as a senior would love to have the opportunity to move on and play in the NFL, if he can get healthy. If he is not going to be able to be healthy enough to do that, seems like he would be open and willing to go back, be able to play that last year.
That's something he's going to work through. We're kind of just being patient right now. Right now the whole focus is get healthy. He's working his tail off. We'll see what happens with that.
Then in regards to the rest of the guys, we always submit a few guys to the NFL, to see where their draft status will be. Right now I don't expect there to be a lot of movement there. To me, we let that process play itself out. Still a little bit early. We'll let the NFL give their evaluations, then we'll sit down with them and have a conversation with their family, help them make the best decision possible.
Q. When you went through the process last year, you talked about how pleased you were with the reception you got from people that you talked to about the position. Are you finding after the season you had, with all the personnel you got back on offense, people are reaching out to you, coaches are being proactive?
TOM ALLEN: My phone is blowing up, yes. It was the minute it got announced. So that's accurate (smiling).
Q. I don't think he's come up yet, Damarjhe Lewis. Is he a three technique in your eyes? What do you think he brings? You talked about the importance of those disruptive interior guys.
TOM ALLEN: He was committed to an SEC school, fits that build. He's 6'3", 290 some pounds out of high school. Athletic, high energy, disruptive. We always talk about twitch, explosiveness, just pop that these guys play with. He has that.
They're hard to find, those are guys that are valuable guys. Another one that just brings a lot of energy. I think he's going to bring a lot of juice to that room. He's going to practice hard, play hard. He has a really good personality about him.
He's explosive. That to me is what you need. You need 300-pound guys that can run, change direction, be explosive. He's a three technique, we projected him as that. We didn't have a whole lot of guys on that defensive line that were graduating, so it was a small group we were going to bring in. I think he really has a chance to be a special player.
Q. Javon Swinton is listed as an athlete. Offensive or defensive side of the ball?
TOM ALLEN: He plays both. He's an extremely talented basketball player. He brings a lot of skill to our team. He's going to probably start at receiver. Like I say, he's a guy that plays both sides. Could be a DB, could play receiver. Sitting down with him, he wants to start there. I'm fine with that. He may stay there and be a receiver the whole time.
He's 6'2", just good ball skills. Got good speed. The basketball, the good basketball players, are usually good DBs, too, because of the quickness of the feet, change of direction. Just love the versatility he brings, can do a lot of different things. Excited about him.
Q. When you went to a bowl game, some midyear guys, there's a rule in place, if their year was done, they could come and practice in some of the bowl practices. Do you see these midyear guys getting a few workouts with your team?
TOM ALLEN: It is a rule. There's a lot of things that have to happen to fall in place for that to be able to be. Ty Wise is going to be one of those, he'll be with us here this weekend, start with us. He can be with us for the three days. It can only happen on campus. Once we go to the bowl site, we can't do that. Have had a few that have done that in the past.
Six in-state guys from Indiana that we signed. He's Mr. Football for the linebacker position. Randy is Mr. Football for the O-line position. A lot of good players in this class. Ty is one of the top guys. Excited about him. He's the only one for the bowl practice.
Q. What do you do with guys like that you can't just throw them in whole hog? To have the opportunity to get him out the field before off-season workouts, what can a guy get from that?
TOM ALLEN: I think the biggest thing is just the familiarity, the routine. He's going to sit in the meetings. He's probably not even going to go full pads. He'll be limited. Have a helmet on. He'll do drills, individual work more than anything. Not just going to throw him in there.
I just think it's being able to be here. He's super excited to be in the meetings, be in the practice, be a part of it, get a chance to hang out with your teammates, be in the locker room. Pretty cool. He's a kid that just loves the opportunity he's been given here. Very appreciative of it. He'll maximize it.
That's what you do. Position might vary based on what you can do with him. At the same time I don't see him being thrown in there, going live or anything.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports