By Justin Whitaker
BROWNSBURG — BROWNSBURG — “Electric” was one of the words that Brownsburg football coach Brett Comer used to describe his senior star running back/defensive back Chase Dutra.
Now the Indiana Hoosiers and coach Kevin Wilson are hoping Dutra brings that same spark to Bloomington next season.
The three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and the ninth-best prospect in the state signed his letter of intent Feb. 6 to play football at Indiana University.
Dutra becomes the sixth Bulldog in six years to sign a letter of intent to play Division I football and the second to play in the Big Ten.
While he still has his final semester at Brownsburg to go, Dutra is set to arrive in Bloomington.
“I am definitely ready,” he said. “It’s what you’ve dreamed for since you were a little kid, to get to the next level and to get your school paid for. The opportunity to play in such a high conference like the Big Ten and playing against multiple future NFL players or stars is a great opportunity. That’s why I’m so excited and want to take full advantage of it.”
Of Comer’s seven years as head coach at Brownsburg, Dutra was one of only three freshman to ever be called up to varsity their first year.
His game-changing quickness and hatred to lose just scratches the surface of what the once “tall, skinny kid” according to Comer will bring to the Hoosiers.
“I’m going to bring the intensity, I’m going to bring the leadership,” Dutra said. “I’m not expecting to be a leader right off the bat but I’m going to contribute. I’m going to keep kids’ heads high and I’m going to try to be the best player I can be heading into my freshman year so I can contribute as much as a possible.”
Indiana offered Dutra in mid-August and after talking to his parents, he accepted just days later.
“I pretty much knew I was going to go there right away,” Dutra said. “I had been there so many times, I felt all ready like I was at home.”
Dutra became familiar with Indiana as the Brownsburg football team went to Bloomington for summer camps and the Hoosiers coaching staff saw what Dutra could do. There were also official visits where the 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete was able to spend more one-on-one time with the coaching staff and get a feel for the program.
The football team’s weight room was one of Dutra’s favorite aspects of Indiana’s facilities as it looks out on the Memorial Stadium field and glass windows span the entire north end zone.
“Seeing the weight room that they have, the tutors, the studying areas and everything they had was just really, really nice,” Dutra said. “The weight room I loved and that’s where you are going to spend the most of your four years in the weight room… It’s a really cool atmosphere.”
Dutra also credited IU’s appeal to the familiarity. He feels close with the coaches but also likes that his family can attend all of the games and Dutra’s friends will be just dormitories away.
But what really set Indiana over the edge was what Dutra feels is the rise of the Hoosiers.
“A lot of the players that are all ready there and in my recruiting class are buying in,” he said. “We feel like we are on the rise and we are going to be shocking a lot of people these next few years.”
Wilson went 1-11 in 2011, his first year on campus after dealing with disciplinary issues and multiple players leaving the team.
The ball started rolling in 2012 as Indiana went 4-8 and was much more competitive as the players bought into Wilson’s vision.
The Hoosiers won two Big Ten games against Illinois and Iowa and lost a close one with No. 8 Ohio State 52-49.
The improvement on the field coincides with what analyst’s rank as Indiana’s best recruiting class in at least 10 years. The Hoosiers were ranked the 43rd best recruiting class of Rivals, which after the past three years of 66nd, 59th and 92nd rankings respectively is an improvement.
“They are competitive people and I’m not surprised they got a great class or did really well in Indiana at least,” Comer said. “And I won’t be surprised when they start winning games either. Kevin Wilson is a competitive guy and he’s not going to put up with stuff.”
Four-star Ben Davis safety Antonio Allen switched his commitment from Mississippi to IU and four-star Pike defensive end David Kenney switched from Iowa to IU.
Dutra talked to those two guys and decided, “I better hop on the train.”
With the higher rated recruiting class comes increased expectations, but that does not bother Dutra. He has enjoyed the attention that Indiana football has received.
“It’s really exciting,” Dutra said. “To get all the hype and to get a lot of people on Twitter talk and from alumni it’s really cool to just have that encouragement. The main part is to not live in the hype… I think it will be a really exciting next four years.”
As easy as of a decision as it was for Dutra to choose IU, the process to fax his letter of intent form on national signing day provided difficult.
He went to send the fax through the athletic director’s office and the fax machine read error. They tried again with the same result.
They moved to the senior academy office and then the main office with the same fax problems.
Joy Ayers, a Brownsburg administrative assistant, then drove to Marsh Supermarket and paid $5 to fax his letter of intent to IU.
“It was quite an ordeal,” Comer said.
And while Dutra knows where he is going to go to school and play football, he unsure of what he will study or what position he will play on the field.
Dutra is 90 percent sure that it’s going to be a defensive position with talks of safety and maybe even linebacker.
But when Dutra went on his official visit, Wilson commented on how he wanted to possibly see him on the offensive side. Then when Wilson came to see Dutra during the season, he liked how Dutra was shifty with the ball.
Brownsburg’s all-time leader in season and single game kickoff return yardage believes he will have a chance immediately to play on special teams. But no matter what position he ends up playing, Dutra does not have a preference.
“As long as I’m on the field and get a shot that’s all want,” Dutra said. “Because I know if I get a fair shot, I’m going to take the opportunity and take advantage of it. I’m not going to just let it go to waste.”
Comer has watched Dutra grow up in front of him and as Dutra moves onto the next level, the Bulldogs will miss the dynamic athlete while the competition may not.
“To watch him go from a tall, skinny kid to what he is now and to watch his maturity level change, that’s part of the satisfaction of coaching high school football,” Comer said.
“In the pros you get to keep them if you sign a big enough check. It’d be neat to keep him, but nobody else in our league wants us to.”