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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 01, 2018 1:00 am

New rule creates a hectic summer

College recruits can now take earlier visit

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

At 1:30 p.m. on June 15, Miami defensive end Jeramy Passmore announced he had committed to Indiana, becoming the third player from the 2019 class to choose the Hoosiers.

Passmore's announcement set off a frenzy of recruiting success for IU, which received commitments from eight more players over the course of the next four days, rocketing its class to as high as No. 32 nationally in 247sports.com's rankings. 

The surge of commitments for the Hoosiers is emblematic of an early summer period on the recruiting calendar that has become one of the most popular times for commitments. Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame all had waves of players commit in June, filling out large portions of their 2019 class earlier than in years past.

“We've got recruiting in June, which is different from any other year. This is the first time in June we're taking official visits because of the new rule,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said at the Red Coat dinner in Fort Wayne on June 22. “June's been a busy month. I will say we're very excited for the season, but (the coaches are) gonna use July to recharge the batteries a little bit.”

The “new rule” that Kelly referred to is an NCAA provision that passed in April 2017 and went into effect with the 2019 recruiting class. The rule allows potential recruits to take official visits – a visit in which all expenses are paid by the school – from April through June of their junior years in high school. Previously, recruits could not take official visits until Sept. 1 of their senior year. 

“June has (historically) been one of Notre Dame's better (recruiting) months,” said Bryan Driskell, a football analyst at Notre Dame sports magazine Blue and Gold Illustrated. “A lot of that was because that was when a lot of regional guys picked.

“The difference this time, is you're starting to get more national prospects. The difference is you're getting kids on campus for official visits.”

To illustrate Driskell's point, Notre Dame got commitments from four-star Charlotte, North Carolina, linebacker Osita Ekwonu and four-star Cincinnati guard Zeke Correll within four days of each other in June. Both had taken official visits since the beginning of April and Correll's came just days before his commitment.

The Irish received four commitments in June and now have a class that is already up to 15 players. Notre Dame's class ranks No. 9 nationally per 24/7's rankings.

That Top 10 national class remains the highest of any Indiana school, but the margin is not nearly as wide as it's been in the past. Purdue had a huge month, getting commitments from 15 players from June 1-22. 

Official visits have played a role in Purdue's success, as well. Getting players on campus is key for the Boilermakers, who opened a $65 million practice facility in 2017. The building dominates the skyline for those arriving on campus from the north and is a physical representation of the energy surrounding the program after Jeff Brohm led it to a Foster Farms Bowl victory in his first season as coach.

“The first impression now with the new facility is really making a difference,” said Brian Neubert, a writer and editor at GoldandBlack.com, a Rivals site that covers Purdue sports. “It really illustrates the commitment Purdue has made to football. It really shows recruits right off the bat that this is a place where they really care about football.”

Purdue's class features 19 players, including four-star safety Marvin Grant from Detroit, who ranks among the national Top 300 and committed June 1 after making an official visit in late April. Before the visit, he'd reportedly been leaning toward Kentucky. 

The Boilermaker class has zoomed all the way up to No. 20 in the country, and No. 4 in the Big Ten, per 24/7. For comparison, Brohm's first class was ranked No. 51 overall and the last class in the Darrell Hazell Era was No. 72.

As for Indiana, the bulk of their recruiting success in June came over a four-day period June 15-19. The Hoosiers received commitments from 11 players in June, including four-star Carmel defensive end Beau Robbins, another national Top 300 recruit. Robbins is the first four-star recruit to choose Indiana since 2014.

“Most of (IU's recruits) came on official visits,” said Matthew Weaver, who covers football and recruiting at Peegs.com, a web site that covers Indiana sports. “They all kind of visited around the same time. ... That week of all the commits, I think they had five or six of them on campus on the same days.”

With 12 recruits committed, Indiana's class ranks No. 41 nationally, which would be the best class the Hoosiers have pulled in since 2000.

dsinn@jg.net