INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 6, 2019
TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. Welcome to our second signing day, so trying to get used to this new format. In our staff meeting this morning, we were kind of commenting about it doesn't feel like a normal signing day, so even less than maybe last year's did on the second one, but the first one has obviously become the major focus for the programs and everything. But at the same time, really excited about adding two guys to our class that we're very excited about and really anxious to get here on campus this summer. Tim Weaver, offensive lineman out of Pennsylvania, a young man that we really feel like has got tremendous potential and upside and great length, and the body type we're looking for to play offensive tackle and has the flexibility to play outside and inside, as well, and really, really feel like he's the kind of young man that matches the values we're trying to look for academically and from a character perspective and comes from a great family. So really excited about Tim.
And then Josh Sanguinetti is a young man that really brings a great skill set to our secondary. A young man that had 24 interceptions in his career in high school, which is a whole bunch from a very good high school program. Very good athlete, a young man that -- a tremendously -- a ton of talent that we think will be a great addition to an already-talented young secondary that did a really good job last year, and then also in the first signing, as well.
Really encouraged by the class. We've got 22 total guys if you count Jack Tuttle as a transfer, and that's how we view that, and so one thing that really we focused on with this second phase, I did a lot of junior recruiting, even sophomore recruiting myself, and so really was able to get out and hit a lot of schools in the Midwest, a lot of schools in Indiana for sure to start with, but then even got into other areas and got it going there.
I just a lot of times went myself and hit as many as I could hit in a day and hit a lot of these young guys and at least eyeball them and talk with their coaches and spend good time there, as well as try to be very, very focused on the last few spots, knowing that we could be very, very selective in this process, which is what we did, and went after some really high-end guys and knew we had a great foundation and had the core of our class already signed.
And then really what the mindset is as I addressed earlier, was having a good plan for the new structure that we're in which is having an opportunity to evaluate the transfer portal. That allows us to be able to go through, and it's kind of a whole new world for everybody right now to be able to go through, and it was great to be able to have some spots here at the end that we'll be able to utilize and address needs and even go through spring and see what needs might be presented from that, as well, with the ones we already feel like we have and feel like that's going to be a great asset to us.
So to me -- it's all new territory for everybody, but at the same time I really feel like we have a really good plan and also have really good flexibility now to be able to finish out the entire group before we get ready to go to fall camp.
Any questions you may have right now, please feel free to ask.
Q. Coach, I know O-line was an emphasis in this class. You got one here in the second, two, maybe three, depending on what you do with Whitner. I'm guessing you probably wanted to get one more. You talk about the transfers; if you had a grad transfer, you have a big senior class next year. Is that a deterrent because it makes --
TOM ALLEN: Well, we have a big senior class on the offensive line, so basically the bottom line is that we without question -- I think that's going to be a real focus for us, to be able to go through in the second phase of -- now that we're through the signing days and looking at some guys that would fit that profile for us on the offensive line, because at the same time -- and it kind of opens up a whole new opportunity for yourself, too, when you look at a chance to be able to bring somebody in that you could develop, as well, that may be looking for an opportunity, and you can still go through and develop them if they have to sit for a year, if they're not a true grad transfer, so that's also kind of another component to it that you would look at because whether you took them out of high school or you took them and developed them, you're still going to have a guy that's not going to be necessarily playing as a 2019 season guy.
So definitely continue to focus on the offensive line for sure. Really like the three that we got. Two of them are already here, were mid-year guys, so they're already in the weight room and getting bigger and stronger as we speak, and then adding Tim to that fold.
And then Antoine is another guy that's an either-side-of-the-ball guy, so there's really four offensive line body types already in the class, five defensive line guys, and so really was a big emphasis for us. These next two classes is our offensive line.
Q. I guess to follow up on that, two questions: One, while we have you here, is there any update on Jack Tuttle, and are there other spots besides O-line that you could see yourself really kind of targeting in the transfer portal, or is it maybe one of those where you want to leave it a little bit open minded in terms of saying, well, there's somebody who's interested that we didn't expect and they don't maybe fit a need as much as they've got a talent level that we want to bring in?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I would say, first of all, we don't have an update on Jack. We know we've submitted everything the way we're supposed to, and we'll have to let that process play out, so we'll know in the future on his status.
But also, I think to answer the question about the need, I think there's no question, as I talked to our staff this morning, the focus is to be able to target guys that can help us the most win games in 2019. That to me is the focus. Whether it's at receiver, whether it's a defensive tackle, whether it's a -- whatever. I don't want to pigeonhole ourselves because you just never know. Guys that can help us, can come in here and give us a chance, the best chance possible to be successful on game day. So guys that make us better, whatever needs.
That's why I think sometimes you go through spring and you'll know where you feel like you may have a certain area that you just need a little more depth here, and that's -- having that flexibility I think is a really huge advantage for us now, so really being able to utilize that.
I think that will kind of be evolving as time moves along and as we continue to evaluate our guys, their progress, how well they're developing, and so it's about getting the right guys that can help us win games on Saturday.
Q. How has Kalen DeBoer at all been thrown into the recruiting process despite not really being here for a long time yet? What kind of role has he had? He talked about recruiting in the Midwest at his press conference. Have you used that at all for IU?
TOM ALLEN: Here's what we did. He was with us for one full week on the road by the time he was officially here and got everything processed to allow him to go out, so he traveled with me the entire time. So we went through and went together, so I got a chance for him to meet guys that we were recruiting for the future, so he got a chance to meet the high school coaches that I was going to those areas as well as the guys we were targeting in this last class.
So was able to be with me during that, so it was really good -- he didn't go to an area per se by himself, but was able to get indoctrinated into our areas that we were hitting at this time as well as just meeting coaches, and his history has been in the Midwest a lot in recruiting, so we will maximize that for his assigned area moving forward. But as far as the way we approached this last week, it was really focused on wherever I was going, he was right there with me, so it was a good time for us to be together.
Q. However this class shakes out, it's going to end up being one of the best if not the best in program history based on recruiting sites rating the overall talent and things like that. How with your experience does that add any kind of pressure or does it add any pressure in terms of you guys having to translate that talent that you've seen in person and on film on the field on Saturdays?
TOM ALLEN: I think it's expectation, which is good. I think -- and I don't even know where we rank. I don't spend a lot of time on that. I do know that that's talked about a lot, and I know that we've got a lot of real good players that we've signed, and I love our class. I think it's a deep class. It's a very broad class. It addresses a lot of different positions, both sides of the football, special teams.
But yeah, whenever you invest so much into recruiting like we do, I expect our class, and they've gotten better every single year I've been here, so I don't expect that to change. We have to stack a good class upon another good class and another good class, and obviously you like -- everybody talks about top 25. I like to talk about top 25 offense, top 25 defense, top 25 football team. So next goal is to be a top 25 recruiting class. That's kind of how I would approach this.
Whatever that means, to me it's attracting better and better players to help us get where we want to be on the field.
So yeah, I think that does add some extra expectation, but that's what you want. And so when you start playing a better level of football, then people expect you to play higher the next year and then the next year and then you start attracting really good players and expect those players to perform, and I expect our coaches to do a great job of developing them and our strength staff to do a great job of developing them. That to me is part of the expectation that we want. We're trying to raise that here in this program, and that's what's happened.
Q. This is the second time you've had this early signing period. Has it impacted your success do you think in recruiting, to spread it out like this?
TOM ALLEN: I think so. You know, it's hard to say since we haven't -- you go back and say, what would it have been like if we didn't have it with the same exact time frame. I think what it does for us, we work so hard at recruiting, and it allows us to really do a great job -- we even had this discussion as a coaching staff and can think about the early spring visits that we were allowed to have that we haven't had in the past. So you look at this class we just signed here and we brought a bunch of guys in, and we tried not to string our visits out amongst a bunch of weekends, which I thought would be really kind of difficult on our staff. We tried to focus in on one big weekend where you bring a bunch of guys in here in the month of June and then allow that to be a big weekend where we bring guys here, maximize the surroundings here, utilize the lake and the whole weather for that time of the year, which you can't utilize when you're here in January. So we tried to do that, and I thought that was real positive.
And so we were able to get a lot of those guys to commit, and if you look at those guys that committed after that weekend and the weeks that followed, they stuck with us. So that's a big part of it. So I think that's where you might see a difference. And then you get them signed and we signed all those guys in December, so you get them committed earlier, you get them to stay with you, and then you get them to sign in December, and then you've got them, and then you focus on the next ones. Well, that's done, then you focus on after Christmas, then you focus on the few spots remaining, and then you're able to be very, very selective because you have a great foundation, and then you get it jump started on the 2020 class. So I feel like we're way ahead of where we've been in the past by having that cycle now going for two years in a row now.
I thought we had a much better plan in year two to really take advantage of the January recruiting and really zero in on the 2020 and '21 classes. So I do think that it's helped. I think we've taken advantage of it as a staff, and we've got to continue to do that.
But yeah, I do -- now that we've done it a couple times, I do like the process it goes through -- it makes for a really crazy December because you've just finished your season because you go -- if you think about it, you have twice as many visit weekends. Before the visit weekends were really only just in January, so now you have three full weeks of that in December leading up to the 19th signing and then you have another three full weeks of it, even though you may have less guys, you're still doing the same thing with that group, and so not quite as intense the second time around, but the time involved is the same.
But I do think it's good. I think we're taking full advantage of it, and I think we've got to continue to do that.
Q. When you look at this current class, what are some guys you feel like could make an impact sooner rather than later, whether it's within that four-game redshirt rule or if they even have a chance to surpass it?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I've been asked that a couple times, and we kind of discuss it as a staff, and first of all, you don't really know for sure. Like we kind of go back and think about last year's group, and if you'd have said Stevie Scott was going to do what he did, not many people would have predicted that.
So you don't really know, but just when you think about it, a guy that jumps out to me, you may not expect this, is Sean Wracher. Even though he's a long snapper, he may be our starting long snapper. So that guy has a huge role, big shoes to fill, but at the same time, a very, very important role on this team coming in as a true freshman. So that would be the first guy I think of.
Juan Harris is a guy that I expect that can be a big contributor for us. Sio, another D-tackle, just because of what we lost on the defensive line, the mass of guys up front that we're trying to replace, I think he could be a guy that could help us early on.
Antoine Whitner, another guy, when you talk about replacing some of those interior defensive line guys, I think those guys could be in the mix for sure.
David Ellis with his skill set and versatility, I could see him being a guy involved in special teams, and it's maybe a little easier to get involved than -- the offensive line is hard. It's hard to come in as a true freshman and play right away, so we'll see how those guys adjust. We could have some of those guys maybe in some backup roles up front, but I think it's hard to come in and be a starter.
Coy Cronk is one of the few guys that can come in as a true freshman and play in the Big Ten on the offensive line. He did that and did it very, very well. But I think that's hard to do.
Sampson James is another guy who's coming through and getting himself healthy, but man, just -- we work so hard and he's so big and strong, and Ivory Winters, same thing, he may need some time to figure it all out, but physically when he walks in the room, you would notice him as a guy that looks likes he could play on Saturdays.
So just to kind of name a few guys -- I'm missing some I'm sure, but it's a good group, but it's like all groups, they've got to be developed. Once they come here, their stars are all gone, and whatever they did in high school really doesn't mean anything. I think that they've just got to come in and have that mindset.
There's no question that Tiawan Mullen is a guy I expect to help us in some way, shape or form, and in his mind I guarantee you he's coming here to start, so that's just kind of how he thinks and how he's wired, and that's what you want.
But we never promise that to anybody, and we're very, very clear on that. We promise opportunity. If you want to -- especially by position and by graduation at certain spots, there's opportunity for sure, but I just think that the guys got to come in here and work, and once they get on campus, we'll see what they do with the opportunity they've been given and then certain guys take advantage of it more than you expect and some guys that you think are going to come in don't, and that's probably been the case every single year; I'm sure it won't be any different this year.
Q. You mentioned Tiawan Mullen obviously is a guy towards the top of this class and a guy who was definitely vocal on social media and trying to recruit guys. What does he mean to this group, and what does it mean to have him in the program?
TOM ALLEN: I'll tell you, he means a lot, and here's the thing that you don't see when you aren't in our shoes. I go down to Florida and go into a school, and right away they know who he is, they know he's coming to Indiana, and they think we've got an amazing player. First of all, how did you get that guy. They all know about him, and they all respect him. Because he's just one of those kids -- he's a guy that's going to come in here and have to earn everything -- the opportunity he's been given, but he has such a humility about him. Even though he's confident and has got a swagger to him, he's very humble and appreciative and grateful for the opportunity we gave him, and he's very, very proud of being a Hoosier.
He went to the All-American game there out in San Antonio and I have people that were there at that event, whether it was the people associated with Adidas or the coaches, and the constant theme was, man, that guy is so proud to be a Hoosier and just really, really represented us in a first-class way, not only by how he competed, at the level he competed at but the way he did it and the way he handles himself.
Like everybody else, he's got a lot to prove and a lot to develop and work on, but he definitely brings a confidence to this class. He's been -- we needed him to get a hold of a guy -- he just saw who we were recruiting and he was just aggressively took advantage of that social media-wise and texting guys and just trying to build his class, and we challenged him about that, about even when he came here, hey, get on board here and help recruit your teammates. We're only as good as the guys around you, and that's something that we really -- I think a lot of guys in this class have done that. You see a guy on social media trying to encourage other guys, and there's been several, and he's kind of been the ringleader for sure, but there's several guys that have bought into that, and I think that that's neat to see for sure. Real excited to have all those guys.
Q. Tom, this is kind of the start of the second year for David Ballou and Dr. Rhea and their staff. Have they made the kind of progress with your players that you can really see and start to think that this is really making an impact with what they're doing?
TOM ALLEN: I believe so. You know, you go through, like -- we got to see our guys Tuesday morning really for the first time in a while. We might have seen the guys that we were hosting on the weekends but we hadn't been able to be at the workouts because we were out recruiting. So watched the team run on Tuesday morning, and just the size of our guys, the mass is obvious, the growth physically, the numbers. You go through them, even though I've been away, we talk pretty much daily, and he goes through the different things, sends me stuff on the computer, I watch on my phone and look it up and see where we're at.
The thing was we kind of had a -- when he first got here, we were where we were numbers wise and strength wise and we had to use that as our base and build from there.
Well, now that base has been elevated, so now we came back here in January and started here a year ago, now those same guys because we were so young, so many of them, now they're starting here and now they're just building off of that base.
So just to be able to see their development -- so yeah, there's no question. You can see it, and obviously it's got to continue throughout the rest of these several weeks before spring ball starts and then we'll lift during spring ball like we always will, and then you get into your summer months.
I just think that it goes back to we don't have a whole lot of seniors in this next class. I think we have 13 to 14 right now on paper, so we will not have a big recruiting class. All these guys will be back with us again for another year for the most part. So just got to keep on building away, and right now we're just about building those guys up in the weight room and all the things we're doing off the field right now with them and their development and leadership physically.
His entire staff continues to do a great job with that, so I hope it shows up even more so this spring and then ultimately in the fall.
Q. I was struck by something. You've got four in-state kids, four Indiana kids as part of this group. It's not a big quantity but it's quality. You look at all the ratings service, you've got three of the top five or four of the top 10. Talk about the kind of kid from in state who's interested in coming to Indiana now.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, that is a big deal for me, and we worked really hard to attract our best in this state to come to Indiana and go through and see and what -- they came out with an article in the Star about the -- I think the last 15 years of guys, and I think it's the top 5 in each class from the 15 years previous to this year, and where they've all -- where they went and how they fared, and there was only -- of all those years, there's only three guys that came to Indiana. And I just think that you think about how important it is for us to be able to get the best from Indiana and to get four guys to come that are really highly regarded in this state is very important. There's no question that it's a priority for me to be able to attract those guys, and to me the quality is the key. That is the key component there, and to be able to attract guys here that will help us be successful in the Big Ten, and that's the whole objective, and just really proud of them believing in us, and Beau and Sampson and Cam and Larry and those four guys, and just to be able to have relationships with their coaches and just know that sends a strong message to the rest of the guys in our state and really want them to come here and be challenged and be pushed to be great in the classroom, as a man, and ultimately on the football field and how they perform.
Really encouraged by that and just got to continue. We've got another good class coming up here in the future. That's why I spend so much time in Indiana on the 2020 class and '21s, and we've offered several of those guys already, and wanted to get in those schools and for them to be able to see us there and us to be able to meet with their coaches and meet the people at their schools and be visible, go watch basketball games and wrestling matches, different things we're able to do during that time of the year. We aren't able to visit with them but are able to see them, and they see us, and that's very important. Just want to continue to do a great job of having a good foundation from our home state.
Q. How is Michael Penix's recovery?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, really good. Watched him run yesterday during our morning run and watched him work out after that and talked to our training staff and talked to our strength staff specifically about him and his progress, and he is right on schedule, if not a little bit ahead. So we expect him to be able to be throwing this spring, and we'll do a great job of getting him back.
Certain body types are quicker to recover, and he seems to have one of those. Seems to be responding well to the rehab and everything that he's going through, so really encouraged by that, and it's hard, especially in the beginning, and he kind of had to push through some of those tough days, and they're not going to be completely gone, but I think the hardest part is behind him, and same with coal guest, working hard to get himself squared away and working so hard to get his body right and to allow him to be back to full speed like Nick Westbrook was able to do and J-Shun Harris was able to do three times.
But it's a tough, tough process, without question, and I think Michael and Cole are doing well.
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