Indiana Football did not have a player drafted this year, and Curt Cignetti plans to change that.

For Indiana football to compete in the Big Ten, Cignetti and his staff must recruit better players than Tom Allen recruited.
Indiana Head Coach Curt Cignetti during the Indiana football spring game at Memorial Stadium on April 18th
Indiana Head Coach Curt Cignetti during the Indiana football spring game at Memorial Stadium on April 18th / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

For the second time in the last 15 years, Indiana football has gone two drafts without a player selected. You could count Michael Penix, Jr. and AJ Barner, but they had their best seasons in other uniforms. This season Aaron Casey and Andre Carter signed UDFA contracts with the Bengals and Jaguars respectively. However, if you are going to win in this league, you need players.

Former head coach Tom Allen was beloved despite not winning as much as the school -- and he -- wanted to win. That said, he did not recruit at a level to sustain winning. In today's college football climate, you must recruit players who project to the NFL.

New head coach Curt Cignetti looks to change that.

One thing resonating with everyone involved with Indiana Football is Curt Cignetti's confidence. That started at one of his first pressers:

There is something to the fact he's won everywhere. Elon, Indiana University (Pennsylvania), and James Madison all leveled up under Cignetti. It should come as no surprise since he's from the Nick Saban coaching tree. Early in his tenure, it is evident that he gets it.

Recruiting is different because the market has expanded. High school recruiting is still paramount to winning. Most top-tier programs use the transfer portal to fill needs until high school players are ready. The portal also means that it is essential to recruit your locker room. Cignetti has proven adept at recruiting all three.

Recruiting the Locker Room:

Indiana experienced heavy attrition after Tom Allen was fired. Jayden McDaniel's transfer brings the Hoosiers' outgoing transfer grand total to 39. However, Cignetti kept two critical pieces of the offense: experienced wide receiver Donaven McCulley and offensive tackle Carter Smith.

Both McCulley and Smith project to be draft-able NFL prospects barring injuries or disastrous seasons. McCulley came to Indiana as a quarterback and has blossomed into one of the better receivers in the Big Ten. Smith was on the NFL's radar last year and should be once again.

Recruit High School

While it is challenging to recruit in year one, Cignetti signed his quarterback of the future, in-state blue-chip quarterback Alex Cherry. The 2025 class is currently ranked 6th in the Big Ten and 29th in the country. Four-star Chris McCorkle III committed to IU over the likes of Florida, Florida State, and Iowa.

The Portal

Cignetti and his staff brought several standouts from James Madison. Elijah Sarratt, Aiden Fisher, and Tyler Stephens were some of the players who followed Cignetti to Bloomington. In addition, Cignetti signed Kurtis Rourke (Ohio) and right tackle Trey Wedig (Wisconsin), and both are projected to start.

Cignetti wants to win now, and how he's built the roster proves that. He also wants to create a sustainable program in Bloomington, something that's never been done. If they can continue buidling the roster and keeping key players, they just might.