INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Wilson keeps raising the bar.
On Wednesday, the Hoosiers coach signed 21 new players to go with the five he corralled earlier this year and came up a recruiting class that may go down as better than last year's — and could help the Hoosiers finally start winning more games and become bowl-eligible.
"Hopefully, we can start developing some complete team depth and make some strides," Wilson said after the national letters-of-intent rolled in Wednesday.
Wilson and his assistants were still trying to firm up commitments early Wednesday morning. The extra work paid off when Robert McCray III, a linebacker from Florida, became the newest addition to Indiana's signing list.
Wilson was after two things: Depth on offense and playmakers on defense.
It appears they got both.
Indiana added quarterback Zander Diamont, the Los Angeles city player of the year, running back Tommy Mister, the Chicago Catholic League MVP, several big receivers and three mammoth offensive linemen. The list includes two 320-plus pound Indianapolis area natives, Tim Gardner and DeAndre Herron, and Delroy Baker, a 290-pound Florida native.
The Hoosiers also found help in making the transition from its standard 4-3 defense to the 3-4 defense preferred by new coordinator Brian Knorr.
In addition to McCray, Indiana got Greg Gooch, a highly-touted linebacker from Georgia, and Dameon Willis, last season's MVP from Ohio powerhouse Cleveland St. Ignatius.
Knorr, who was hired two weeks ago, also added size up front. Indiana signed 291-pound Mike Barwick Jr. from Cincinnati and 290-pound Jermane Conyers from Georgia — two players who are big enough to take on multiple blockers and keep offensive linemen off Indiana's athletic linebackers. And he signed six new defensive backs.
The challenge, of course, is turning all that hype into productivity on the field — and taking advantage of what some believe are the best back-to-back recruiting classes in school history.
"We have to develop them and have them become the players we need," Wilson said. "It's not about ratings every year, but we're getting some strong kids to help build our team."
National rankings: (Rivals 36; Scout 44).
Best in class: Tim Gardner, ol, Avon, Ind.
Best of the rest: Dominque Booth, wr, Indianapolis; Jordan Fuchs, te, Queens, N.Y.; Greg Gooch, lb, Longwood, Fla.; Robert McCray III, Rockdale, Ga.; Tegray Scales, lb, Cincinnati.
Late addition: McCray, who didn't make his decision until the final hours leading up to signing day.
One that got away: Willie Yarbary, de, Augusta, Ga., decommitted from Indiana and wound up choosing Wake Forest after Indiana changed defensive coordinators.
NOTE: "Physically, he (Gooch) is a Mike linebacker, who can come in and rush off the edge. He'll provide tremendous personality for this defense," new coordinator Brian Knorr said.