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Purdue Football Recruiting: The Spectacular Failures

Which Purdue recruits over the last decade have been huge misses?

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Since this is the slow time of year there is mostly only recruiting news to talk about. Purdue fans are anxiously awaiting news on Errick Peck to see if he or another graduate student transfer will commit for basketball. The Spiece Fieldhouse in event in Fort Wayne this weekend will also be a popular place for the coaching staff as Matt painter goes with a fistful of scholarships to offer.

This is also the time of year where football recruiting ramps up, as kids get ready for summer skills camps before deciding on their offers. At Purdue, we rarely get the top players in the country. We're more of a developmental program that will take a 2- or 3-star kid and build him up rather than have a 4- or 5-star dominates immediately. In fact, Many of Purdue's few 4- and 5-star players have turned out to be huge flops.

On Monday I will try to talk about the success stories, but today let's look at the high profile recruits Purdue has gotten that did not work out (hopefully Danny Etling won't be the next one here).

O.J. Ross - WR - 2010 - Ross should be a senior on the roster this fall, but the former 4-star commit from Daytona Beach has been good, but not great. As a freshman he had 11 catches for 149 yards for a score. As a sophomore he upped that to 33-356-3, and this past season he looked good with a 56-454-2 season. It looked as if he would be a valuable asset, but he was suspended indefinitely after the season and is currently not on the roster.

This is Ross' second suspension, as he missed the Little Caesar's Bowl in 2011 and briefly had his scholarship revoked. This does not bode well for him returning to the field in 2013. In theory, he could claim this year as a redshirt and still return in 2014, but there is a strong chance he has played his last game for Purdue.

Al-Terek McBurse - RB - 2009 - When ATM committed in 2009 we all had visions of a dominant running back who piled up yards in bunches in high school. He was a tall, fast back that would take over for Ralph Bolden and eventually dominate the Big Ten. Instead, he gained no yards on four carries in 2009 (but did return a kickoff for a TD at Indiana) and had just 189 yards on 22 carries in 2010 before transferring to Florida A&M. Once there, he barely played for the FCS Rattlers.

Ken Plue - OG - 2008 - It is hard to call a three-year starter as a failure, but Plue came to Purdue in 2008 as a four-star offensive guard and started almost from day one. Then the rumors came. He was mysteriously suspended for the Michigan State game in 2009 for a violation of team rules and suspended again for the entire 2011 season for the same reason. We never found out the true reason, but there were strong rumors (that got this blog in very hot water) that won't be repeated. Instead of come back for last season he declared for the 2012 draft and was not drafted. Too bad. When he played, he was very good and opened a lot of holes for Ralph Bolden in 2009.

Brian Ellis - LB - 2007 - If you're saying, "Who?" don't worry. Ellis was a highly touted 4-star linebacker that was supposed to arrive from College of the Sequoias in 2007. He was big, strong, and fast, but unfortunately did not qualify academically. He never played a down at Purdue.

Kyle Williams - LB - 2005 - Perhaps the most spectacular failure on the list. Williams is the only 5-star commitment Purdue has ever gotten. He switched from Iowa to Purdue and played in a handful of games in 2005 as a reserve. He was a great running back in high school and was a can't-miss prospect who, by all accounts, should be in the NFL right now.

So what happened? Well, in November 2005 he assaulted a woman behind Delta Zeta sorority before attacking a second woman on Waldron Drive an hour and a half later. He had been released from the team weeks earlier after recurring headaches slowed his career after 28 tackles in seven games.

He was later convicted and sentenced to 37 years in prison for a count of attempted rape and two counts of battery and confinement for the November 29, 2005 assaults. He gained an additional 10 years when he committed a similar assault in DuPage County, IL while out on bond for the original assaults. There is the possibility that two concussions had a role in the incidents, but we may never know. He is currently in prison and won't be out for quite awhile.

Jason Kacinko - OL - 2005 - The 2005 class is clearly where it all started to go down hill. It was Joe Tiller's best and they were expected to ride the momentum of a preseason top 15 ranking into something special. Little did we know, the wave had already crested. Kacinko was expected to be a major offensive line pickup at 6'6", 300 pounds, but did not play a down in tow years before transferring to Pitt.

Selwyn Lymon - WR - 2005 - The third of four 4-star or better recruits in 2005, Limon was a spectacular flameout and still the most successful of the four. Finally, tiller landed a big, strong, talented receiver to go with his basketball on grass offense. Lymon sat out the 2005 season as academically ineligible but paid his own way to get eligible. His career lasted 13 games in 2006 and a handful of games in 2007. He had 33 catches for 580 yards and three scores, most famously torching Notre Dame for a Notre Dame Stadium record 238 yards and two scores.

That's when things got weird. He missed the Northwestern game on October 14 after injuring his eye in a paintball-type game with other players on the golf course. On March 30, 2007 he got in a bar fight at Nick's on the levee and was stabbed in the chest. Finally, he was arrested on November 19, 2007 for drunk driving and resisting arrest, which included the embarrassing fact that he peed himself in the process. He was kicked off the team after that, and lasted a minicamp with the Dolphins before flaming out of the NFL.

J.B. Paxson - DE - 2005 - The final 2005 major miss was Paxson, who committed to Purdue only to change his mind and pursue baseball. Since he had already signed a letter of intent for football, coach Tiller wouldn't release him to play D-1 baseball, so he played JuCo ball and two years in the minors before ending his career as a pitcher. He never played a down.

Jeremy Coley - DE - 2004 - Coley was one of four 4-star commits in 2004 (along with Ryan baker, Dorien Bryant, and Bruce Gordon), but never played a down as a JuCo transfer.

Bruce Gordon - WR - 2004 - He came to Purdue from Dodge City Community College but never played a down.

Garret Bushong - TE - 2003 - Ah Garret Bushong, a fan favorite for saying that he and other athletes ran Purdue and were above reproach in an Exponent letter. This was AFTER he had been arrested for a DWI. While he was a highly touted TE he barely played as a freshman and some runt two-star passed him on the depth chart the next year. His name? Dustin Keller.

Doug Van Dyke - DE - 2003 - Van Dyke was supposed to be the next great Purdue defensive end. A four-star recruit out of Michigan, Van Dyke never qualified academically and failed to play a down.

Brandon Kirsch - QB - 2002 - The final entry on the list, Kirsch is hard to call a failure. Still, he left Purdue with eligibility on the table and was a "what if?" guy. He was an occasional starter and solid backup for Kyle Orton as Purdue had one of the best QB situations in the country in 2004. Given the team in 2005 as a junior he was expected to do great things. His offense was actually quite good that year, but the defense was awful and by the end of a 6-game losing streak (after Purdue started 2-0 and was close to the top 10 nationally) he was passed over for Curtis Painter, more because he clashed with Tiller than poor play on the field.It was probably a major decision in the downward spiral of Purdue football after The Fumble.

Kirsch threw for 1,727 yards and 7 TDs against 8 picks in eight games in 2005 while running for 198 more and a score. He left early for the NFL Draft and had a decent Arena League career. This was after 423 yards rushing and 3 scores in 2002 with 1,067 yards and 8 TDs against 5 picks as a true freshman before redshirtting in 2003.

If you look at this list it is amazing to see how good the 2006 Purdue team could have been. It could have had Kirsch as a senior QB, Lymon and Gordon at WR, Bushong at TE, Coley, Paxson, and Van Dyke as dominant defensive ends, Kacinko as the anchor of the offensive line, and Williams as one of the best young linebackers in the Big Ten. This is before you factor in lesser recruits that made the NFL like Mike Otto, Uche Nwaneri, Anthony Spencer, Dustin Keller, Bernard Pollard, Cliff Avril, Rob Ninkovich, Alex Magee, and Curtis Painter or the actual 4-stars that worked out like Ray Edwards, Dorien Bryant, and Ryan Baker. There were also solid college guys on that roster like Jaycen Taylor, Kory Sheets, Keith Smith, David Pender, Stanford Keglar, and Anthony Heygood. Shoot, Keller and Spencer were first round NFL selections! Ryan Kerrigan also redshirtted in 2006.

That 2006 team should have been loaded with talent at almost every position. Instead, it went 8-6 with its best win over a 6-7 Minnesota team before losing to Maryland in the Champs Sports Bowl. The 2005 team was also supposed to be very good, but went 5-6 and lost six in a row while giving up over 31 points per game in all six losses.