Bloomington – It’s hard to argue with who was the biggest catch for the IU football staff in this year’s football class.
It wasn’t the highest ranked player, Columbus wide receiver Duwyce Wilson. Sure, Wilson is Indiana’s first top-300 player overall since, well, ever, but he doesn’t get that honor.
It’s also not the biggest player (6’6”, 275-pound offensive lineman Charlie Chapman), the fastest player (Southport running back Nick Turner) or the most versatile player (Sheridan’s Nick Zachery). No, the most important member of IU’s 2009 recruiting class was the first player to commit – Jeffersonville (Ind.) quarterback Edward Wright-Baker.
A dual threat quarterback, Wright-Baker accounted for 2,597 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior and was Scout.com’s 45th-ranked signal caller nationally. Time will tell if Wright-Baker will have as big of an impact on the IU program as many expect, but there’s no disputing the impact he had on an IU recruiting class that is ranked higher than any in years. Wright-Baker committed to the Hoosiers in mid-June, and 13 more players followed suit within the next month.
“It seems it happens that way – you get somebody that the other guys know, and they guys start jumping on,” IU Coach Bill Lynch said.
That’s precisely what happened. By mid-June, big recruiting names such as Wilson, Jeremy Gainer, Kenny Watkins, Ted Bolser, Lawrence Barnett and Adam Replogle followed suit. All of those players had other prominent Division I offers, but each instead opted to commit to the Hoosiers.
Lynch’s son and IU wide receivers coach Billy Lynch doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that Wright-Baker’s pledge was followed soon afterwards by a flood of pledges. In his mind, Wright-Baker’s commitment was what was needed to let others know it was okay to follow suit.
“I told Ed when he was down here (in the summer) and I know Coach (Dennis) Springer reiterated it to him right before he committed, ‘you watch, you commit to Indiana and watch how many commits we get in the next two weeks,” the younger Lynch said.
“That’s what we talked to him about. A lot of you want to go to Indiana. But someone has to stick their neck out there and say I’m going to Indiana.”
Wright-Baker did that, and the end result was a recruiting class that has more players that other BCS schools offered in years. Even with the late decisions of Gainer and Watkins to decommit and go Michigan State and Minnesota, respectively, the elder Lynch says the progress that Indiana has made is obvious.
“We’re competing against higher profile BCS schools every year,” Lynch said. “We beat more BCS schools on kids this year. We’re not going to just recruit a kid because School X is recruiting him. But if we’re recruiting him and someone else is in there working it hard and we’re able to beat them, it shows us each class is getting a little better.”
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