When Evan Jansen came to Bloomington for a June 9 lineman camp, he got plenty more than the usual level of attention.
The Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller got one-on-one instruction from Seth Littrell, Indiana’s offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, and Jansen’s lead recruiter. He also attended a private cookout, hosted by the staff. There, his father, mother and grandfather all got to meet with IU’s coaches, building a comfort level that helped lead to the call Jansen made to Littrell on Tuesday.
“I talked to coach Littrell on the phone quite a bit, letting him know,” Jansen said, referring to his commitment, which he passed to Littrell around mid-day Tuesday. “He was pretty excited. I’ve been up to campus twice. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with him. … He’s always been telling me I’m their (No. 1 target). I’m sure he’s glad that it’s finally settled.”
Jansen committed to IU on Tuesday, becoming the Hoosiers’ second pledge in the class of 2013, and filling an obvious depth chart need behind Ted Bolser and Tanner Kearns at tight end. The rising senior also held offers from the likes of Air Force, Akron, Western Kentucky and Harvard.
Though he saw limited time as a junior at the Cincinnati-area powerhouse, Jansen excelled this summer on the camp circuit, impressing with his blend of size and skill at the tight end position. National recruiting analyst Barton Simmons, who saw Jansen at an NFTC event in Ohio two months ago, praised his versatility and athleticism.
“He actually showed good hands and route-running ability despite his big 6-5, 235-pound frame,” Simmons wrote. “As a prospect that could project to a pass-catcher or a blocker, Jansen showed some reason for intrigue.”
The Hoosiers will want Jansen in the former role.
Indiana is looking to add depth at Jansen’s position in 2013, with Charles Love III out of eligibility after this season and Littrell looking for more athletic options at the tight end position. In Jansen, the Hoosiers appear to have found just that.
“Before, back in camp, (Littrell) was saying that they have one tight end right now, Ted Bolser, so he’s expecting for me to be the No. 2 guy freshman year,” Jansen said. “They’re also going to take another tight end, but a bigger, blocking guy.”
Bolser, himself a Cincinnati native, will enter his redshirt senior season in 2013, and it appears likely incoming freshman Tanner Kearns will be deployed often in an H-back role. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Jansen would appear an ideal replacement for the former player, working both at the end of the line of scrimmage and also split out in the slot, depending upon match-ups.
Jansen said he has focused this summer on bulking up, getting his weight up to 240 pounds. But knowing he will be needed in a more versatile role in college, he’s now adding another goal to the list for the next few months.
“I think size-wise, I’m still good, but to play Big Ten especially, if I’m gonna be an athletic tight end, split out, speed’s going to be a big deal,” Jansen said. “I think that’s going to be an important thing for me to focus on.”
With his commitment now out of the way, Jansen said he’s looking forward to getting acclimated with his new program in the coming months.
“I have plenty of time to get comfortable with the fact that that’s where I’m going to be spending the next four or five years,” he said. “I’m not just committing early to reserve a spot.”
Though nothing is planned yet, he said he expects to be something of a regular on Saturdays in Bloomington this fall, with Cincinnati just a two-hour drive away. That proximity to home was, in fact, part of what drove Jansen to his decision in the first place.
“It was definitely very important,” he said, referring to IU’s location allowing his family to come see him play without much travel. “I sure want them to be able to come out and visit, watch me play whenever.”
Family has always been important to the Ohio prospect.
When he made the trip for that lineman camp a month ago, Jansen’s father accompanied him to Bloomington. But once the work was done and it was time for the cookout, Jansen’s mother and grandfather drove up as well, to get a better look at what all Indiana had to offer.
That experience, Jansen said, helped bolster Indiana as his leader, and it helped his family build a connection with the program and the coaching staff that eventually led to his call to Littrell on Tuesday.
“They didn’t just see the campus and the facilities and stuff, but had a chance to hang around the coaches, so they know who I’m gonna be spending the next four or five years with,” Jansen said. “For them, and even me too, we really got to know a lot about the place and realize everything about it is right for me.”