Purdue football has already lost the one recruit due to the disaster that is the 2012 season and the impending (I hope) coaching turnover. Randy Gregory, who had originally committed to Purdue out of high school and maintained his commitment for two years through junior college, recently decommitted and switched to Nebraska. It's disturbing that a guy who has been locked in for almost three years is backing out.
Gregory is a defensive end, but we picked up a defensive lineman to replace him yesterday in Ra'Zahn Howard of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Howard is a hulking 6'4" 305 lineman that was originally a member of the 2012 recruiting class, but he reclassified to 2013 by spending this year at Atlanta Sports Academy as a prep school. He only needed a semester there, as he is planning to enroll at Purdue in January. This is a bonus since he will then be able to go through spring practice and still have the option of redshirting in the fall.
Here is what he had to say about Purdue:
"Purdue expects me to come in and help fill Kawann Short's shoes immediately," Howard said. "They think I'm an elite defensive tackle, a blue-chip coming in, and they said it's rare they get a defensive lineman like me."
That's a pretty big assessment, but I can tell the need is there. Aside from the Notre Dame and Ohio State games, the defensive line has been a major disappointment in terms of creating pressure on the quarterback and helping out the secondary.
The hometown paper in New Jersey had some very positive things to say about him:
Whether on the offensive side of the ball opening holes for senior ball-carriers Armond Conover or Islam Joshua, or pass-blocking so that sophomore quarterback Robert Barksdale (over 1,000 yards passing this season) can unleash a pass to senior receivers Amir Conover, Tahjier Hammary or Thomond Hammary - you can always count on stellar play from Howard.
With two games remaining on the season, Howard has accounted for 70 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, 3 forced-fumbles and 7 pancakes blocks on the offensive side of the ball.
I find it interesting that Howard plays on both sides of the football. Our offensive line has been pretty bad at times this season. So he could easily switch over to that side of the ball if necessary. Whatever side of the ball he played on, it is clear from yesterday's game that we need a guy with a mean streak that is not afraid to knock someone over, especially with as soft as this team has played of late.
Here is some video:
AP vs Rumson '11: Ra'Zahn Howard (Asbury Park) post game interview from All Shore Media on Vimeo.
Howard originally committed to Towson:
Howard, who was an ASM first-team All-Shore selection, verbally committed to Towson University over the weekend, according to Asbury Park coach Matt Ardizzone. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Howard anchored the Shore Conference's stingiest run defense for a Blue Bishops team that won the Central Jersey Group I title for the fourth time in five years. Howard had 68 tackles, including 31 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries and 3 forced fumbles. He also played offensive line and had 11 pancakes in his first and only season at Asbury Park after transferring from Winslow Township. He was selected as the Class B Central Defensive Player of the Year for the Blue Bishops, won also won the B Central title. Asbury Park allowed 10 points per game on its way to finishing 10-2 and allowed less than 50 yards rushing per game.
Since he reclassified and went to prep school much of the Big Ten has showed interest. Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Penn State and Iowa all were recruiting him before his commitment. Alabama also had some interest.
As of right now he is unrated, but it will be interesting to see what he rates out because of all that interest.