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See Whitaker run

Watch Xavier Whitaker on this professionally produced scouting video, courtesy of YouTube. For more information on Indiana’s most recent verbal commitment, see the post below.


Whitaker hopes to be Indiana’s big back

Xavier Whitaker knows something about big, powerful running backs. As a native of the Milwaukee suburb Brookfield, he’s had a chance to watch Wisconsin football closely throughout his life.

Indiana fans who were subjected to a close viewing of the Hoosiers’ 55-20 loss to the Badgers last year know how effective the duo of P.J. Hill and John Clay were. Neither running back was afraid of carrying a little bit of weight (both were about 235 pounds.) Neither running back could be stopped that day (Hill ran 19 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns, Clay ran 19 times for 112 yards and one score.)

Whitaker — who stands 6-foot-2, weighs 205 pounds and considers himself an inside runner — decided Sunday night that he could live up to the comparison he hears most often (that he runs like Clay, who is also 6-foot-2) by playing for Indiana.

“The coaching staff told me the program is on the rise,” he said. “And that part of what’s going to get them there is having big, powerful backs. That’s where I hope to fit in.”

According to Scout.com, Whitaker is a three-star prospect and the No. 71 running back in his class. Rivals.com awards him no stars and does not rank him.

Whitaker said the Indiana coaching staff said it will try him at running back but could move him to safety. He will be playing a bit of everything for his Brookfield Central team this year, as it shifts to a wildcat-based offense centered around him and Jeff Lewis (another 6-foot-2, 200-plus pound back Indiana has offered.) Whitaker expects to line up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and safety.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada handled Whitaker’s recruiting, bringing  him to campus for the first time Saturday and showing him the stadium expansion and around campus. Whitaker is the fifth player to verbally commit to the class of 2010, and the fourth to do so since last Thursday.

Whitaker also has scholarship offers from Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Illinois State. He’s also heard from more prestigious schools — and will continue to do so. The Wisconsin coaching staff reached his high school coach Monday morning and eventually ended up speaking to Whitaker and urging him to visit Madison and meet with them.

Whitaker rushed for 872 yards and 12 touchdowns on 116 carries last season.

He cannot sign a letter-of-intent until February.


Lewis headed to Division II

Kellen Lewis, the former Indiana star who was kicked off the team for violating a team rule, will play his senior season at Division II Valdosta State.

ESPN.com’s Joe Schad has the story.

“He told me, ‘I just can’t give you another chance,’” Lewis said. “And I understand because I violated our contract. It was a bad day then but I will stay in touch with those coaches.”

Valdosta State came into spring practice with one quarterback that had game experience, redshirt junior Russ Callaway. Callaway suffered a knee injury during spring drills and is not expected to play in 2009.

That obviously would leave a huge hole that Lewis, who set 16 school records with Indiana, could fill.


Add a running back to 2010 fold

Running back Antonio Banks of Middletown, Ohio, verbally committed to play football for Indiana Saturday.
Banks, 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, is the fourth player in the Hoosiers’ 2010 recruiting class.
He ran for 944 yards on 156 carries with 12 touchdowns in 10 games as a junior. Banks also caught 13 passes for 113 yards and was a first team all-Greater Miami Conference selection.


Young, a 6-5 wide receiver, commits to IU

Toughness, for Logan Young, is not just breaking tackles and turning 10-yard outs into 70-yard touchdown receptions.

It’s breaking free from three older brothers and avoiding a swirley.

Young was eight, maybe nine, and was a self-described germaphobe. So when his brothers decided to stick his head in the toilet, Young fought like he had never fought before. And, what do you know, he broke free from the siblings’ grasp.

A little less than a decade later, Young is going to take that self-taught toughness to the Big Ten. The wide receiver from Delta verbally committed to the Indiana football program Thursday, five days after receiving a scholarship offer.

Young is a 6-foot-5, 190-pound wide receiver that runs a 4.59 40-yard dash. He was a basketball standout, playing AAU basketball for the renowned Spiece organization, until a year ago.

After a long AAU season, Young said he made a decision that he had been ruminating for more than a year.

He wanted to play college football, not basketball.

His coach, Grant Zgunda, took the news and ran with it, making highlight videos and sending out the appropriate information to college coaches.

Young’s decision may have come a little late, which is why his recruitment was generally limited to Indiana, Purdue and hometown Ball State. The Hoosiers were the first to offer.


Crean’s very interesting tweets

Tom Crean had not Tweeted in nearly two days and had, as a whole, been on a little bit of a dry spell lately. Not even any talk about the Real Housewives of New Jersey finale*.

That is, until just a little while ago. When Crean unleashed a flurry of posts that seem to praise the freshmen, call out the upperclassmen and continued to demand nothing but the best all could offer.

“When we arrived in today to start a recruiting visit, we heard about some of our very young guys being in AH until 1130.”

“I tell our guys to look at Jeremiah Rivers as a example of being a guy that understands the commitment to be successfull.”

“We need to make sure Tom, Verdell , Matt and the other guys follow along.”

“I hope all of them get it because I am getting more and more convinced I cant or dont want to coach people who dont love the game.”

“If you love the game and spend enough time working at it you will HATE LOSING. ABSOLUTELY DESPISE LOSING.”

“The scary part of leadership 4 me is that I dont think we are confident enough in our own games to hold others accountable.”

“I do hope I am wrong though.”

Well, then. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith is Tweeting about golf tournaments. Kentucky coach John Calipari is looking at book sales. And USC coach Pete Carroll went bowling. But on June 19, a full five months before the first basketball game of the 2009-10 season, Crean is focused on basketball, and only basketball.

But what do you think of these Tweets? Is this just passionate leadership that is using a communication tool to send a message to player(s)? Something more?


Jorge Campillo turns pro, signs with IMG

This post falls under the “more” category promised by the Scoop, but I thought it was worth sharing nonetheless.

I talked with now-former Indiana men’s golfer Jorge Campillo today. And from his home in Caceres, Spain, Campillo said he recently set his professional career into motion by signing with agency superpower IMG. IMG’s other clients include the likes of Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Jeff Gordon.

He also said he will be participating in next weekend’s BMW International Open. The open is one of the most-highly attended events on the European Tour. The tournament will pit Campillo against Jon Daly, Ratief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie and other seasoned vets.

Campillo said he plans to spend his summer on the European Tour before returning to finish school at IU in the fall. After school he intends to take aim at another school – the PGA Tour’s Q-School where he hopes to earn his PGA Tour card.


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