BLOOMINGTON — Bowl-bound Indiana’s breakthrough football season in 2019 has not only gotten the notice of fans but recruits as well.
As IU coaches spent the bye week recruiting throughout the state and country, head coach Tom Allen said there was heightened interest in the Hoosiers. At No. 24, IU (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1994 and takes a four-game win streak into its matchup at No. 9 Penn State.
“Without question, it’s been extremely positive,” Allen said. “It’s always fun to go out and get in schools when you’ve got good, positive momentum, doing good things, playing to a certain level. It keeps coming back, everybody comments how hard we play, finish games out. They’re noticing all those things”
Indiana already has 14 commitments for its 2020 class, including four-star wide receiver Rashawn Williams (6-foot, 178 pounds, Detroit, Mich.) and three-star offensive guard Coleon Smith (6-6, 300 pounds, Belleville, Mich.). Allen may not have much room to add more potential signees for 2020, given the fact IU doesn’t have many departing seniors.
“It’s not going to be a very big class,” Allen said. “We don’t have a lot of seniors. I think upper teens numerically is where you’re looking at. O-line, D-line we’re still working on some spots there. Skill guy or two here and there. Other than that, we won’t have room. You can only replace within the 85 (allowed scholarships) of what you lose”
Allen said IU’s season has given recruits a reason to believe his sales pitch the Hoosiers are headed for more winning seasons in the future. IU landed back-to-back Top-40 national recruiting classes in Allen’s first two seasons with the Hoosiers, and that talent is starting to pay dividends on the field.
“Everything we say we are in recruiting is who we are,” Allen said. “When you have success on the field, you are doing the things you talked about doing in recruiting, definitely momentum is high right now.”
RAMSEY NAMED CAPTAIN
Allen announced redshirt junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey will serve as a team captain between now and the end of the season.
“He’s just proven himself over and over again in this program,” Allen said. “I just think that’s something that’s just earned and (he’s) very worthy of and so just excited for him and that opportunity.”
Allen said elevating Ramsey to team captain first came into his mind when Ramsey entered the game for injured starter Michael Penix Jr. early in the second quarter and maintained the lead in IU’s 34-28 win at Maryland.
“The way he’s handled everything, the way he responded, especially that first time at Maryland, was just kind of, he had to come in at a critical time and played at a very high level without even knowing he would be out there,” Allen said. “And then (it) just continued.”
Indiana punter Haydon Whitehead has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will return for the 2020 season.
A Melbourne, Australia, native, Whitehead attended two years at McKinnon Secondary College in his native country before playing the last three years at IU.
Whitehead has put together another strong season for the Hoosiers and is a candidate for the Ray Guy Award, given to college football’s top punter. He’s averaging a career-high 41.9 yards per punt, with 17 punts downed inside the 20-yard line and 13 punts downed inside the 10-yard line.
“It’s very important for us to have him for another year,” Allen said. “He does not just do a great job as a punter, from a technical perspective as a punter, but just his leadership and his work ethic and the way he does everything every day is just a huge part of our culture.”
Allen said senior offenisve lineman DaVondre Love is questionable and may not travel with the team to Penn State after suffering a lower leg injury in practice.
Other than that, Allen said IU is healthy coming out of the bye week.
PENIX READY BY SPRING
Allen said Penix underwent successful surgery to repair his sternoclavicular joint.
“I feel very confident he’ll be 100 percent by spring,” Allen said.
But Allen said there’s also a plan in place not only for Penix to rehab the injury but to get stronger in order to take the punishment a quarterback receives during Big Ten Play. Penix was only able to complete one of the four Big Ten games he started, against Michigan State. In two of the Big Ten starts, against Maryland and Northwestern, Penix left the games with injuries.
“We’re working on a very, very comprehensive plan to get him rehabbed and recovered and then also developed,” Allen said.