Defense matters. Championship-winning teams know it and the Indiana Hoosiers, who hope to build a title-winning football program (or least a winning one), full-bore embrace that philosophy with their recruiting.
Case in point -- they have a new commitment from a junior college All-American, and he just happens to be a linebacker.
That would be Mike McGinnis, who thrived for ASA College in New York this past season. He totaled 58 tackles in eight games, including 15 tackles for loss. That was enough to earn him honorable mention All-America status by the National Junior College Athletic Association.
The 6-2, 235-pound McGinnis is the 17th player to commit to IU for the Class of 2017, and the 11th on defense. He rates as the No. 9 junior college linebacker according to 247 Sports, which makes him a three-star prospect. He’s well versed in the 4-2-5 defensive scheme coach Tom Allen uses.
Allen’s philosophy is simple -- good defense starts by controlling the line of scrimmage. That means a good front seven of linemen and linebackers. Seven of the defensive commitments come from those positions. That includes Allen’s son, Thomas Allen, a linebacker.
Tom Allen can’t talk about specific recruits until they sign a national letter of intent, which can’t happen until February. But he can talk in generalities one what his focus is for the upcoming class.
So as the Hoosiers (6-6) continue their preparations for the Dec. 28 Foster Farms Bowl against Utah (8-4), Allen offered some recruiting thoughts.
“We’ve got a good strong group up front of guys committed to us. We need to get more there. To me, that’s where the game is won.
“You’ve got to be able to have depth so you can rolls guys in and out, and keep them fresh and playing hard. Our focus is on guys who have that extra burst to get to the quarterback. That’s an emphasis for us for sure.
“We’ve got some older linebackers we know we have to replace. That was a need going in, and it’s still a need.”