It was a very quiet day overall for Purdue football when it came to national signing day. We were involved in no hat dances, no ESPNU press conference, or no raids from a state to the north at the last minute. That's the way I like it. To me, if you're enough of a prima donna that you need ESPN at your press conference showing you signing a letter you're not going to amount to much because you're already used to being coddled.
We don't do it that way at Purdue, and we never have. Give me an actual quarterback that wants to prove himself for every Jimmy Powlus out there.
According to Rivals.com we have the No. 34 class in the nation, which is good enough for fourth in the Big Ten between Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska. This is skewed somewhat by sheer numbers, as a small class of 12 at Wisconsin is theoretically behind our large class of 24. Still, this is great improvement over being 12th in the Big Ten last year (when we got dinged with the smaller class), 8th in 2010, 12th in 2009, and 10th in 2008. these numbers do factor in Nebraska as a full Big Ten member.
As much as people rip on coach Hope, and some of it is warranted, it is hard to compete in a conference like the Big Ten when we're not even at the middle of recruiting. Yes, that point may sound like a contradiction to my hatred of the ESPNU prima donnas, but recruiting is really a balance of finding solid talent that still wants to prove itself.
At least on paper, this class looks like it has that talent. Every single player on the returning roster (except for Robert Marve) comes from a class that was not rated highly at all. It can be argued that it is a stretch that they are even competing at the same level of some of these higher talented squads. As we see every time Ohio State ventures to West Lafayette, however, talent can be a huge boost, but it doesn't automatically mean wins.
This class was solidly Purdue throughout the day. The only loss of a verbal was Dion Witty, who was a possible academic casualty and ended up at Memphis (motto: Spectare Calipari Meyer Saban Pitino Tibi Subveniet = We'll have someone take the SAT for you, courtesy of Boiled Sports). Witty was a 5'11" 175 pound defensive back. His loss was at a position where we have a lot of depth, so it is not a grave loss.
Instead, we replaced him with a surprise commitment of Joey Warburg, who was an Illinois verbal and had visited Arkansas, but literally came out of nowhere to sign with Purdue. Warburg is a 6'5" 255 pound road grader of an offensive lineman from Louisville Trinity High. Since long-snaper Jesse Schmitt hails from that school he gets the assist for landing Warburg.
Positives of this class:
Our last few recruiting classes have been very light on offensive linemen, which is troubling two-fold. First, we lost really three starters along the line in Ken Plue (double secret probation, then NFL draft), Dennis Kelly, and Nick Mondek. James Shepherd, a top backup, is also gone. Even with a healthy Trevor Foy, Jack DeBoef, and Cody Davis likely playing larger roles next year depth is going to be a concern. Second, Danny Hope is an offensive line coach and architect behind the offensive line that allowed Drew Brees to have approximately 4.7 days to throw on each passing down.
Well, that depth is here now. Cameron Cermin is a 6'5" 291 pounder from Texas. James Prince (6'6" 268 pounds), and Jordan Roos (6'6" 300 pounds), Jason King (6'4" 295 pounds), and Devin Smith (6'7", 315 pounds) give us some really big boys to get behind. Smith is a JuCo transfer who may play immediately. Roos is already on board as a Boilermaker with a torn ACL he is recovering from. King is a blocker that excels in delivering pancakes, and he is the lowest rated member of the class at two stars.
I'd estimate that at least two of these guys will play next year somewhere along the line, with at least one starting by 2013. I like all of these guys because there is a ton of potential each year. Wisconsin is always good because they have a killer line blocking for everyone. If we could get that with the speed of some of our players, watch out.
We've joked about it, but Danny Hope's plan for an all-quarterback offense may not be far off. Austin Appleby gets all the press because of his showing in the Elite 11 camp, but Bilal Marshall and Aloyis Gray also signed. Coach Hope said they would get their fair shot to play at QB, and we already have a preferred walk-on coming as well as the possibility that Robert Gregory will still sign. That is a lot of quarterbacks, but in a way, it is needed.
Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush will all be gone after this season, so presumably they effect none of the incoming freshmen. That leaves Rob Henry (who may move positions) and Sean Robinson as experienced QBs after this season. Henry has only one year left after 2012, while Robinson would have two. In theory, that gives plenty of time to develop Appleby, Marshall, Gregory, or Gray, but I would be t that at least two of them are at a different position by 2013. Gray, Marshall, and Gregory are all big, mobile QBs, while Appleby is an even bigger pocket passer.
Given the returning depth I doubt we will see any of them on the field until 2013 at the earliest, but that is good from a development standpoint. My preferred method for 2012 is Marve as starter, TerBush as experienced backup, Henry taking over the Wild Siller position, and Robinson as third string. we have a unique opportunity to possibly win our division because of the turmoil at Penn State and Ohio State and Indiana and Illinois being Illinois and Indiana. We have to go for it.
The Curse of the Four Stars is well known at Purdue, and this year we get two. One of them is the jewel of the class in 6'3" 270 pound defensive end Ryan Watson. He came to Purdue for one reason: we put D-Ends into the NFL. Tomorrow night Ryan Kerrigan could be named the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and his effectiveness at Purdue was unquestioned.
Watson is not the only player at this position we got. Greg Latta is a JuCo already on campus, giving him a jump with spring practice. One spot is open, while the other looks like it will be claimed by Ryan Russell. Will Robert Maci start, or will Watson stake a claim early? At a school that rarely gets four stars I have high expectations for the ones we do get, so I'd love to see Watson start immediately.
Kingsley Ike has a kickass name and has good size, but I think he'll take a much needed redshirt.
Here is where the second four star comes in with Carlos Carvajal. He was originally a 2011 commit, but he went to prep school (the same one as Ken Plue) and is now on campus to go through spring practice. At 6'7" 215 he could be a huge safety valve target, especially with how important tight ends are in newer offenses. The last time we had a TE that was a matchup nightmare was Dustin Keller. Could Carvajal be like that?
Ryan Morris (6'6" 241 pounds) could see time as a key blocking TE as well.
I think the last big, strong receiver we had that dominated was Chris Daniels in 1999. We've always had undersized receivers that are fast, but tend to get pushed around by DBs. It is my hope that Charles Torwudzo or the speedy Shane Mikesky can develop into a deep threat and big outside receiver, but we have a few in this class that could also play.
Danny Anthrop comes in as a touchdown machine at Lafayette Central Catholic, but that was after two years of being the best player by far on the field in most games. He's quick and knows what to do with the ball. BJ Knauf has some Vinny Sutherland potential (read: he's faster than Tom Crean's clapping), while Cameron Posey and Jordan Woods finally give us receivers with size.
Players That Definitely Will Play In 2012:
Paul Griggs - K - According to Carson Wiggs, we cannot call him "The Griggy Bank" without infringing copyrights. He's expected to start from day 1 at the vacant kicker position. He's one of the most accurate HS kickers out there.
Thomas Meadows - K - Yes, we recruited two kickers, but Meadows may serve as a kickoff specialist and would likely play if Griggs struggles.
Greg Latta - DE - JuCo guys are brought in to play immiedately, and I think Latta begins the year bookending Russell with Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston between them. Don't be surprised if we go 3-4 on occasion however with Gaston-Short-Russell or really big 3-4 with Brandon Taylor-Gaston-Short.
Ryan Watson - DE - We're Purdue. We don't have the luxury of sitting 4-star guys. If he has the talent they say he does he needs to play.
Carlos Carvajal - TE - Give me a big target over the middle, please!
B.J. Knauf - WR - Don't be surprised if he returns punts and steps back with Raheem Mostert to return kicks.
Devin Smith - OL - See the rule of JuCo's above with Latta. We simply need the depth and he has to be ready right now.
Players Definitely Redshirting:
Austin Appleby, Bilal Marshall, Aloyis Gray - QB - Too much depth in front of them.
Jimmy Herman, Andy Garcia - LB - Again, depth is a good thing, as these guys get a much needed redshirt.
Anthony Brown, Jordan Shine - DB - I disagree with Boilerdowd here, who thinks Shine could start. Yes, we're pretty think at safety, but Landon Feichter was a very pleasant surprise last year and I really want to see what E.J. Johnson can do.
Kingsley Ike - DE - At 230 pounds he just needs more weight going against a Big Ten offensive line.
Jonathan Curry - TE - Again, he needs to get bigger than 6'2" 224 at tight end.
Cameron Posey, Jordan Woods, Danny Anthrop - WR - With Antavian Edison the only proven receiver definitely coming back and O.J. Ross doing... whatever the hell O.J. Ross is doing, someone needs to catch the ball. I look for Gary Bush, Ross, and Edison to be the leading receivers with Torwudzo and Mikesky as the top big receivers.
Jason King, James Prince, Cameron Cermin, Robert Gregory, Jordan Roos - OL - Depth and who falls into the starting positions will have a lot to say about this. Don't be surprised if Roos sits because of his knee, and Prince is only 268 pounds.
Ryan Morris - Crosby Wright and Gabe Holmes give us experience ot go with Carvajal. Justin Sinz also played last year. I'd put Morris in the definitely redshirtting camp, but he may play as a blocking tight end.