The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 6:10 pm

Hoosiers sign 4 of top 6 in state

BEN PORTNOY | The Journal Gazette

There was a palpable excitement in Indiana coach Tom Allen’s voice as he addressed the media Wednesday afternoon as the early signing period neared its close.

In all, IU signed 19 players – including four of the top six players in Indiana. 2018 four-star recruit and Utah transfer quarterback Jack Tuttle is the 20th member of the class.

“We’re excited about what we’re building and the way that we’re building it,” Allen said on Big Ten Network earlier in the day.

The Hoosiers currently boast the No. 39 ranked class nationally in per 247Sports.

Four-star recruits such as running back Sampson James (Avon), defensive end Beau Robbins (Carmel) and linebacker Cameron Williams (Andrean) headline the incoming freshman class. Robbins has been committed to the Hoosiers since June, but both James and Williams were late coups for the IU staff.

James, the No. 9 rated running back in the country, was the second major domino to fall in 2018 class. After decommitting from Ohio State Oct. 7, the 6-foot-1-inch, 212-pounder pledged to IU the same day.

“He loved who we are,” Allen said. “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.”

Williams was the final singing of the day at 1:58 p.m. He chose the Hoosiers over offers from Arizona, Kentucky, Iowa State, Minnesota, North Carolina and Syracuse among others.

Other notable singings were cornerback Tiawan Mullen (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), offensive lineman Matthew Bedford (Cordova, Tennessee), athlete Antoine Whitner Jr. (Bradenton, Florida) and defensive lineman Juan Harris (Chicago).

Mullen, the No. 553 recruit in the 247Sports rankings, brings championship pedigree to Bloomington. A U.S. Army All-American, Mullen’s older brother Trayvon is a junior cornerback at Clemson.

Bedford, who chose IU over Mississippi State and South Carolina, brings much-needed size (6-foot-6-inches, 270 pounds) to an offensive line that will lose senior starters Brandon Knight, Wes Martin and senior graduate transfer Nick Linder.

Whitner could also find himself on the offensive line, though he’s listed as an offensive lineman/defensive lineman on the IU roster.

Harris is perhaps the most intriguing signing of the day. After committing to Iowa three times and the Hoosiers twice out of high school, Harris enrolled at IU in the fall of 2016. However, after leaving school just months later, he played two years at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas, before heading back to Bloomington.

“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,” Allen said “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 the opportunities you had – I think it’s called growing up.”

Bedford, James and Harris will enroll early alongside defensive back Larry Tracy (Decatur Central) and offensive lineman Michael Katic (Gibsonia, Pennsylvania).

Allen said the plan is to bring in five more prospects before next fall. But as it stands, there’s plenty to be excited about in Bloomington.

“Really, really excited about the young men that have chosen us,” Allen said. “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.”

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