BLOOMINGTON – At the Terry Tallen Football Complex, there is a sense that change is coming. The complex, adjacent to Memorial Stadium, will not be complete until July, but enough of it is already in place that the Indiana football program can make use of the shiny new digs, including a locker room, lounge, training room and coaches locker room.
While fresh paint is still on the walls and some finishing touches are being put in place on the new facility, Indiana's newest freshman class is being introduced to the program with summer workouts. Its presence, too, signals change for the Hoosiers.
The 2019 recruiting class is arguably the best at Indiana in the 21st century. The Hoosiers bring in the No. 37 class in the country, a group that features a pair of four-star Indiana natives in running back Sampson James from Avon and Carmel linebacker Beau Robbins.
After 5-7 seasons in coach Tom Allen's first two years, this new crop of Hoosiers is betting they can play a significant role in helping IU break through to the upper level of the Big Ten.
“I'm extremely proud, that's a huge accomplishment for this program,” defensive lineman C.J. Person said of the talent in his class. “I'm glad that I can be a part of it. That's something I can say for the rest of my life, that I was a part of that change at Indiana, that I helped bring about that change.”
The Hoosiers' upperclassmen will have a role in that change, as well, and one of their most important tasks is to help instill the right attitude in the program's newest players.
Those juniors and seniors will help shepherd the freshmen through their first college workouts, which can be grueling for newcomers. Training together will help create the team chemistry that will be needed on the field come September.
Freshman linebacker D.K. Bonhomme chose to play for Indiana because the coaching staff sold him on the concept of the team as a family. So far, the upperclassmen have made that a reality.
“They have us freshmen buying into the culture,” said Bonhomme, a three-star recruit from Clearwater, Florida. “Because they're trying to win, they're trying to make a difference, they're trying to be different. They're not trying to be like the previous years.
“That's big for me, I'm trying to make history, I'm trying to be part of something that never happened before.”
Robbins, the No. 4 recruit in Indiana per 247sports.com, said the freshmen have taken to the older group's message and are already feeling more comfortable in team activities. The youngsters want to play right away, but Robbins hasn't seen much ego among them.
“Everyone just wants to come in here, work as hard as you can and be willing to do anything,” Robbins said. “Be a good teammate or just whatever you can for the betterment of the team.
“If you have every guy take on any role that's asked of them, do whatever's necessary, if we can bring that mindset, we can continue to elevate the entire team.”
The last two seasons have seen plenty of missed opportunities; the Hoosiers seem to be trending upward, but their record hasn't reflected it. This 2019 class wants to be the one that breaks the dam and creates lasting change.
“I hope that things continue to get better,” Person said. “I know that (2019) is the best class, but I want 2020 to be even better and 2021 and so forth. This is what this program deserves, it deserves the best players possible.”