When Purdue recruits a running back it is always interesting. Under coach Tiller it almost seemed like the running game was an afterthought most of the time. Only Kory Sheets and Joey Harris recorded 1,000 yard seasons (though Montrell Lowe missed it by two yards in 2000). Most of our backs were recruited knowing they would be short yardage guys that needed were harmony to the passing game's melody. The ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (remember Brandon Jones?) was a necessity.
Under coach Hope the running game has taken more of a priority. He recruited Al-Terek McBurse to Purdue, making him one of the highest rated running backs we have ever gotten. He helped Ralph Bolden run for nearly 1,000 yards last year and successfully utilized Jaycen Taylor, Dan Dierking, and fullbacks Frank Halliburton and Jared Crank. It is clear that if you come to Purdue as a running back, you have a chance to make an impression even if you are not the featured back.
That brings us to our newest commitment in Brandon Cottom. Cottom is a 6'2", 225 pound back out of Council Rock North High in Newtown, PA. He is the latest commitment we have had out of Pennsylvania, joining Robert Kugler in this year's class as well as Jack Deboef, Michael Eargle, Mike Lee, and Cody Webster from the 2010 class. We're not exactly going into Penn State's back yard and taking whoever we want, but we're making solid inroads into a good football state.
Cottom had some pretty good offers from Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers, and Duke, while Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame had showed interest. During his junior season the Scout 3-star recruit ran for over 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 291 yards and a score. He played linebacker on defense, and some teams were recruiting him for that position. Purdue views him as more of a running back or receiver because of his hands and playmaking ability.
Newtown was only 5-5 last season and lost in the opening round of the state playoffs to North Penn 39-12. According to The Journal & Courier's Mike Carmin academics were a pretty big factor in his decision, as he wants to be a commercial airline pilot. With offers from schools like Duke and Rutgers it is clear the kid has to be smart, and I like smart players added to our team.
Thanks to the YouTube era, we do have video on the kid. It is clear that he is a versatile player that will do anything to get on the field. We can use him at a number of position once he gets here. He already has good size, so he could be a bruising fullback, a tight end, a receiver, or move back to the defense as a linebacker or defensive end. He is listed this season as a defensive back too. As long as he is hungry to learn we will find a place for him.