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‘We’re bringing a bunch of really good football players’: Curt Cignetti details Indiana football recruiting class after ‘whirlwind’ of first 20 days



Indiana football head coach Curt Cignetti
After a 'whirlwind' of his first 20 days on the job, Indiana football head coach detailed his 2024 recruiting class on National Signing Day. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

20 days. That’s all that new Indiana football head coach Curt Cignetti had to put together a plan of action and execute ahead of National Signing Day on Wednesday. For a program that had just three wins in the Big Ten and just nine overall over the past three years, there needed to be a quick overhaul in the roster in order to field a competitive team this fall.

That’s exactly what Cignetti and his staff did.

“It’s been a whirlwind really. I would call this 20 days of fourth and one,” Cignetti said during his National Signing Day press conference. “I’m living in a university house a couple blocks from town. I have not seen town during the daylight yet. I leave in the dark. I get home in the dark. It’s been a lot of 4:30, 5:00 a.m. mornings till 10:30, 11:30 at night. Was even in the office 12:30 one night. Haven’t done that since 1986. But it was crunch time. It had to be done.”

Indiana announced the signing of 25 players on Wednesday — both from high school and the transfer portal. In total, there were nine transfers and 16 high school signees.

But, Indiana isn’t done.

“This roster is going to look a lot different in January when the players come back,” Cignetti said. “We signed 31 players. We’re going to announce all but seven. Seven are playing in bowl games. They’re all transfers. We’ll announce them after their bowl game.”

Indiana will have six high schoolers and are expecting close to its entire signed class to enroll early — outside of a few signed prospects and others it will likely add before the fall.

“There will be a new culture, identity here and expectation level in the way we play the game, and we’re not done recruiting yet,” Cignetti said. “We’ve signed 31 new ones today. We have 21 mid-years coming in, and I expect to add 3 to 5 more transfers before classes start.

“We’re bringing a bunch of really good football players in here that are used to being successful from all different schools, a lot of Power 5 schools, adding them to the guys that we have retained to create a new roster, which is going to — when everybody comes here in January, this is where we’re going. This is how we’re going to get there.”

That new culture, identity and expectation level has been evident ever since Cignetti accepted the Indiana football job. The confidence he exudes is backed by the success he’s had at every stop on the coaching trail.

So, when it comes to trying to ‘sell’ a recruit on Indiana — and himself — it’s easy.

“It’s pretty simple,” Cignetti said. “I win. Google me.”

That works for both new prospects, former Indiana football commits — but especially former James Madison players. Indiana has secured commitments and now signings from seven former JMU players or commits.

“I know I’m a villain back there right now. Everybody thinks I’ve tampered with their players,” Cignetti said about JMU. ” … The JMU guys, it was just a matter of them coming out and seeing the place. I didn’t have to sell them. They believe that they’re going to win. They think like champions. They believe in the coaches. They believe in the program. They believe they’re going to step on foot and make a difference. Guess what? I believe that too. All they had to do was like the place.”

While the job isn’t done — the first 20 days have been a success for Curt Cignetti and the rest of the Indiana football staff. Wednesday was a reflection of that.

And, at the end of the day Cignetti isn’t going to rest because of what drives him; winning.

“What drives me is winning, to be honest with you, but we win the right way,” Cignetti said. “I had a legacy at JMU, could have stayed there and won a lot of games. I think I’m one of the top winningest active coaches right now in college football. I think I’m in the top seven, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t plan on that changing here at Indiana.

“What really drives me these last 20 days is the time period that I was hired and what needed done with the signing date coming up. The number of guys we had in the portal, the number of guys we were going to have to replace because I knew that these 20 days were going to play a big, big part in our success in the fall and that we had to get it done.

So, all of the long nights and early mornings paid off — for now.

“We’ve got, I think, the right guys off the bus, right guys on the bus, adding to the bus, and it’s going to change the complexion of this football team.”

SEE ALSO: Indiana Football Coach Curt Cignetti’s message to recruits is simple: ‘I win. Google me.’

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.