Purdue Football Recruiting: A Slow Start

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

A look at Purdue's current place in Big 10 recruiting, and what needs to happen in recruiting moving forward.

One word to describe Purdue's current 2015 commitment list: vacant. It has been all quiet on the recruiting front since 3* QB Elijah Sindelar decided to throw in his lot with the Boilermakers on February 11th. The Boilermaker's have a numerous lines in the water, but as of now, are just bobbing up and down in the boat, hoping for a bite from something big. Purdue's single recruit puts the Boilermakers second to last in the Big 10 in number of commitments.

Team

Number of Commits as of 5/19

Penn State

15

Nebraska

11

Northwestern

10

Iowa

8

Rutgers

8

Michigan

7

Wisconsin

5

Michigan State

4

Illinois

3

Indiana

2

Ohio State

2

Maryland

2

Purdue

1

Minnesota

0

These commitment numbers mean different things for different teams. For instance, at the top of the table, Penn State and James Franklin have been adding new elite 4* commitments seemingly every week. They have both high quantity and high quality. Rutgers, on the other hand, have done some shopping in the discount bin, and while they have 8 recruits, they have 6 2* recruits and 2 3* recruits

At the bottom of the table, it is surprising to see Ohio State, but when you think about their recruiting strategy it makes sense. Urban Meyer is trolling for the big fish right now because he is confident he can back fill his class with smaller fish later if necessary. In contrast, Minnesota is just trying to talk someone (anyone) into playing in Minneapolis.

So, where does this leave Purdue?

It leaves Coach Hazell in an uncomfortable but inevitable position. If he is going to pull the Boilermakers out of the deepest, darkest football abyss that was last season, he needs to drastically improve his recruiting. Unfortunately, you're not going to find a bunch of 18 year old kids lining up to play for a 1 win team. In my opinion, this recruiting class is going to hinge on the following:

The First Five Games of Next Season:

Purdue has to beat the directional Michigans and Southern Illinois. Losing any one of those games may be the kiss of death for this recruiting class. Beyond that, they need to play Notre Dame and Iowa close. Beating one of those teams would be ideal, but Hazell is going to have to avoid the half time channel changer that plagued Purdue last year. It looks like a few of Purdue's solid 3* offers are understandably playing the waiting game right now, waiting to see if Purdue can put a respectable product on the field next season. If Purdue can come out of the first 5 games a competitive 3-2 or even better 4-1, I expect several recruits to pop for Purdue. Hazell needs to have some hope to sell these kids. It's much easier to sell, "We're close and you could be the missing piece." As opposed to, "Well, I'm not going to lie, we're not even close, and it's going to take more than you drag us out of the pit."

Hazell's Ability To Wait:

Coach Hazell is going to have to stick with his recruiting board to the bitter end. This is going to get tough if things start breaking the wrong way, and he misses out on some of his better targets. If he only has 5 or 6 commits 3 or 4 games in, it's going to be tempting to start offering kids he knows he can get, but that he doesn't really want. Is Hazell going to stick it out with kids who have solid offers, or is he going to start shopping for M.A.C. level talent early? If you see a glut of players commit midway through the season with offers from Purdue, Western Michigan, Ohio, and Toledo, you know Hazell has cracked, and has moved way down the recruiting board. In my opinion he is going to need to stick it out with the better recruits, and hope that he can flip a few M.A.C. recruits close to national signing day to fill out the class.

Hazell's Ability to Make Purdue Entertaining:

I have a video of my knee reconstruction. It's pretty gruesome, but it is significantly more entertaining than several Purdue games last year. Purdue isn't going to be great this season, and they are going to lose some games, but when they lose, they need to lose with style. Let Etling chuck the ball down the field, get the ball to Mostert out of the back field in creative ways, throw in some gadget plays, turn the defense loose even if it means giving up some big plays, basically, make Purdue football worth watching again. Recruits want excitement, and trying to play ball control while being steamrolled by Wisconsin and Ohio St. isn't going to get it done. Purdue had a "brand" they were able to recruit with in the past. If Hazell doesn't want to stick with that "brand" he had better find his own "brand" quickly, or his inability to recruit is going to doom his tenure at Purdue. Basically when Purdue fails, at least let the failures be spectacular and not just mind numbingly depressing.

Hazell's Ability to Spot Overlooked Talent:

Hazell is going to have to take a few gambles on talent to fill this class, but he needs to make smart gambles. If you're going to gamble, gamble on a kid with a high upside, and not on a kid that has already maxed out his talent. If you're going to gamble on a WR, go find a kid that has transitioned from basketball and only played football for a year, instead of a slower, smaller kid that runs decent routes. If you're going to gamble on a D-Tackle, find a 250-pound kid that has good feet, instead of a fat 300-pound kid that is cemented to the ground. If you find a great athlete without a position, bring him in and then figure out what to do with him. Basically, if you're going to offer a 2* guy, make sure he is a 2* kid that has the potential to develop into a 3* or 4* star player, and not, as we have seen too often, a 2* player that has the potential to be a solid 2* player.

This recruiting class is going to be crucial for Purdue. If Hazell can pull in a class ranked somewhere close to the middle of the Big 10, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  If this class comes in ranked at the bottom of the Big 10, all is not lost, but things will be significantly more difficult moving forward.

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