Indiana focuses on defense on signing day
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent February 6, 2013 8:16PM
Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson talks with the media during Big Ten Football Media Day in Chicago, Thursday, July 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:49AM
BLOOMINGTON — Given Indiana’s struggles on defense last season, it came as no surprise that the Hoosiers’ 2013 recruiting class would focus on that side of the ball.
Of IU’s 22 signees, 13 are defensive players, including six defensive linemen and four linebackers. The Hoosiers also added five offensive players and four athletes.
Last year’s Hoosiers were last in the Big Ten in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense and ninth in pass defense.
“There is potential to help on the defensive side, up front, at linebacker and on the perimeter,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said.
The most notable spot on defense where the recruits could make an immediate impact is at defensive tackle, where both of last year’s starters, Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr., graduated.
Wilson acknowledged the defensive line was a priority in recruiting.
“We’re a little void for immediate spring needs, but we’re moving forward,” Wilson said. “There’s always risk-reward with big guys, some will come in ready to roll. … I believe that’s a position that as you watch during the season, you’ll see that position grow.”
Darius Latham, a 6-5, 291-pounder out of Indianapolis North Central, is the No. 14 defensive tackle nationally according to Rivals.com. The Hoosiers also added two junior college defensive tackles in Christopher Cormier (6-2, 315) out of Arizona Western Community College and Jordan Heiderman (6-3, 280) from Iowa Western Community College.
Heiderman and linebacker Steven Funderburk were teammates at Iowa Western, which won the NJCAA national championship last season. Those two and linebacker T.J. Simmons are already enrolled and will participate in spring practice.
Wilson hasn’t been afraid to play true freshmen — the Hoosiers played 16 in his first season and 12 last year — but noted that no playing time is guaranteed for anyone.
“I believe in playing young guys. We sell it but don’t promise it,” Wilson said. “There’s nothing entitled, you earn your spot.”
With three quarterbacks with experience coming back, that was a position that the Hoosiers didn’t have to focus on.
And the Hoosiers were looking to grab impact players from within the state, and did so — of the five players from Indiana in the class, four are among the top 10 according to Rivals.com: Latham; defensive back Antonio Allen from Indianapolis Ben Davis; defensive end David Kenney from Indianapolis Pike; and athlete Chase Dutra from Brownsburg.
Allen is the first Hoosier to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“I think we got guys that fit us,” Wilson said. “The more you work, the more you build relationships.”