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Indiana chases speed, Purdue gets familiar names

Wednesday - 2/6/2013, 7:19pm  ET

MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana coach Kevin Wilson spent the offseason trying to fill in some big holes.

He wanted more speed, more size, more power and better defenders.

By adding 22 players to the roster Wednesday, Wilson believes he's off to a good start. The Hoosiers signed five players from their own state, led by highly-touted defensive back Antonio Allen, and got nearly as many players from three prime high school football states -- Florida, Georgia and Ohio.

"I do think we got guys that fit us. So I'm not surprised," Wilson said. "We're going to keep doing good, keep doing better because this program deserves to be consistently good."

Purdue signed 23 players to national letters-of-intent in coach Darrell Hazell's first recruiting class including what may be the best senior quarterback in the state -- 6-foot-3 Danny Etling, Terre Haute native.

Even without signing a quarterback, Indiana's coaches could see how much progress they had made when the paperwork started rolling in Wednesday morning.

Outsiders believe it's a good class, too. Some have even dubbed it the best recruiting class in school history.

On paper, the Hoosiers filled a host of needs, particularly on a defense that has had trouble stopping opponents the last two years. They got the hard-hitting Allen, who was considered one of the best defensive backs in the nation and the first to send in his national letter-of-intent. They also got speedy cornerback Rashard Fant, an athlete that defensive coaches hope they can keep on their side of the field.

Indiana added size by signing 6-foot-5, 291-pound defensive tackle Darius Latham, who doubles as a basketball player at Indianapolis North Central; 305-pound defensive tackle Maurice Swain, who also played on the offensive line in high school; 260-pound defensive end Patrick Dougherty of Aurora, Ohio and 250-pound defensive end David Kenney of Indianapolis Pike.

And the Hoosiers brought in three junior college players -- 315-pound defensive tackle Chris Cormier, 231-pound linebacker Steven Funderburk and 280-pound defensive tackle Jordan Heiderman. Funderburk and Heiderman were teammates on Iowa Western's national championship team last season.

"Chris is a true freak show from the swamp," co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said referring to the Louisiana native nicknamed "first round" during a broadcast on BTN.com, a webcast associated with the conference's television network.

"He's legit now, you can see his quickness off the ball. He's got great hips and he just plays angry," Mallory added. "You toss him in there with Latham and Heiderman and we really addressed our needs."

Offensively, the Hoosiers only added a handful of players though it wasn't quantity the Hoosiers were after.

They got two of the nation's fastest sprinters in receiver Anthony Young of Lakewood St. Edward in Ohio and Laray Smith, an athlete from Staten Island, N.Y.; two 240-pound tight ends, two running backs and receiver Isaac Griffith, the son of Manchester College coach Shannon Griffith.

"You look at those track guys, put them with Nick Stoner and I told the track coaches that we're going to have a heck of a 4x100 relay team," Wilson said. "But what I like is the speed of the other guys. The really good teams have overall team speed, and I'm maybe more pleased with the overall speed of the recruits than I am the guys with the track speed."

What the Boilermakers have is a versatile group of players with plenty of name recognition.

Among those signing with the Boilermakers were Keith Byars III, son of the former Ohio State running back who played in the NFL, and defensive end Jake Replogle, who bucked the family trend after watching three older brothers play at rival Indiana. Linebacker Garrett Hudson, the son of Purdue's new defensive coordinator, Greg Hudson, is expected to play for the Boilermakers but was not included on the official list of signees.

And in the cases of Byars and Hudson, the fathers and sons aren't that much different.

Running backs coach Jafar Williams called Byars a physical runner, who can go from 0 to 60 mph in "about one second," rekindling images of his father. Greg Hudson was a linebacker at Notre Dame before pursuing his career in coach.

That's not all, though.

"I think if you study them, the thing that you see is that it's a vibrant class with a lot of guys who can play different positions," Hazell said. "The corners can play safety, the safeties can play corner and there's a lot of linebackers who can put their hands in the dirt. I think there's a lot of defensive linemen who can standup and play on their feet. So that's one of things that we liked in this class."

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