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Thursday, January 15, 2009
Recruiting needs: Indiana Hoosiers

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

After a 3-9 season that featured regressions on both sides of the ball, Indiana seems like a team with endless recruiting needs. But that's not exactly true.

The Hoosiers have several promising pieces in place. They boast two defensive ends (Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton) who had breakout performances in back-to-back seasons. They have some exciting, young wide receivers, a talented middle linebacker in Matt Mayberry and experience in the secondary. But make no mistake: this is a critical recruiting class for a program that can't afford to lose more ground and a head coach (Bill Lynch) who can't afford to lose many more games.

Indiana returns 10 starters on defense, but given the program's historic struggles on that side of the ball, it's important to get a few players who can provide depth early in their careers. The Hoosiers must replace strongside linebacker Geno Johnson and will need reinforcements in 2010 after Mayberry and Will Patterson graduate.

A wave of injuries made it hard to get a great read on Indiana's offensive line, but fortifying the front five will be a priority in recruiting. Line depth can't be a problem in the future like it was this season. Quarterback also will be a need with Kellen Lewis entering his senior season and Ben Chappell a rising junior. Mitchell Evans seems better suited to wide receiver, so the Hoosiers need a plan under center beyond 2010.

The departure of standout kicker Austin Starr also creates an opening for a freshman on special teams. This won't be a huge numbers class for Indiana, but it will be a vital one for the program's future.