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Purdue Football Recruiting: Purdue Class Ranked 8th in Big 10 per ESPN

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the scouting agency. Here is a look at the ESPN rankings for the 2015 recruiting class, and my take on the recruits Purdue singed on the offensive side of the ball (defense to follow tomorrow).

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports
Player Star Grade Position Rank
Elijah Sindelar 4* 80 #20 Pocket Passer
Anthony Mahoungou 3* 79 #11 JuCo WR
Wyatt Cook 3* 79 # 17 ILB
Markus Bailey 3* 78 # 37 OLB
Andy Chelf 3* 77 #54 S
Tario Fuller 3* 77 #78 RB
Richard Worship 3* 77 #82 RB
Evyn Cooper 3* 76 #102 ATH
Larry Wells 3* 76 #94 OT
Matt McCann 3* 75 #112 OT
Michael Little 3* 75 #82 CB
David Rose 3* 75 #119 ATH
Markell Jones 3* 75 #115 RB
Joe Schopper 3* 74 #18 K
Sawyer Dawson 3* 74 #105 OLB
Eddy Wilson 3* 74 #95 DT
Tim Faison 3* 73 #112 OLB
Brycen Hopkins 3* 73 #28 TE-Y
Peyton Truitt 3* 72 #128 OG
Shayne Henley 3* 70 #11 JuCo DE
Jess Trussel 3* 70 #36 TE-Y
Ben Makowski 2* 68 #5 LS
Fred Brown NR NR NR
Michael Mendez NR NR NR
Domonique Young NR NR NR

As you can see, ESPN thinks Purdue has a solid, but not spectacular class. ESPN only gives one of our recruits less than a 3* grade, and that guy is the 5th best long snapper in the nation. Now, you can look at other recruiting services, and Purdue is ranked close to the bottom of the Big 10, but I choose to look at this one, and #8 isn't bad considering what went on with wins and fan support last season. Is this going to be some sort of ground breaking class that vaults Purdue to the top of the Big 10....No? Is this a solid class that can help Purdue get to the middle of the Big 10...I think so.

This is the first class that I can really see what Hazell is attempting to accomplish. His first two classes were a mix and match of emergency pick ups that needed to play now. This class looks more coherent and calculated.

Offensive Line:

The first thing that stands out is the offensive line recruits. Offensive line is not an immediate need, but Purdue was able to pull in a couple of monsters. Larry Wells should be the future at left tackle, at 6'7, 310 pounds, he has prototypical size for the position. Hazell brought in Hedlin as a short term fix last class, and was able to bring in Wells as a long term solution in this recruiting class. Wells will have the opportunity to spend this season working on strength and technique instead of being thrown into the fire as a true freshmen. This has the potential to pay huge dividends in the long run. Matt McCann is another guy, at 6'6, 300 pound, who has ideal size for the right tackle position. McCann is a run blocking specialist who is an absolute mauler on the football field. He will be able to practice, lift, and watch film this year so he will be better prepared to play when his time comes. Throw in Michael Mendez and Peyton Truitt as two more guys that come in with Big 10 size, and you can see the direction Hazell is taking this team. It's going to start up front with a big, nasty offensive line, and Purdue did an excellent job of investing in the future with this class of offensive linemen.

Running Back:

Running back is the next position the Purdue addressed in this class, and again, you can see the direction Purdue is heading under Hazell at the running back position. All three recruits are more straight ahead power runners as opposed to elusive, fast guys we have featured the last couple of years. Markell Jones is a kid that recruiting services have had a tough time ranking. He was so dominant that it was hard to determine how good he actually is. For example, if Ray Davis had played high school basketball in South Carolina, he would probably would have averaged over 30 points a game. Does that mean he is an elite 5* player, or does that mean he is a very good player playing against very bad competition. That being said, Markell Jones has the potential to be one of the most under rated running backs in the nation, if he was actually an elite player playing against terrible competition. I think Purdue and the Big 10 will be a huge adjustment for Jones both physically and mentally, but if he is an elite player, we should see some signs early on in his career. Tario Fuller is pretty much the polar opposite of Markell Jones. Fuller put up decent, but not eye popping stats, in one of the toughest football districts in Georgia. Fuller knows what it's like to be hit by a D-1 linebacker, and he knows what it's like to be chased down by a D-1 safety. Out of the three backs Purdue signed, Tario Fuller is the most battle tested, and should be able to make the quickest adjustment to college game. Finally, Richard Worship is beast. However, don't just consider him a human battering ram who is only good for 3 yards at a time. Worship has enough speed to get into the secondary, and while he might not outrun a safety, it will be hard for a safety to catch him if Worship cracks a few of his ribs on the way through. Worship will probably start his career as short yardage back, but his high school tapes remind me of Mike Alstott, a big guy with good feet who can break an occasional big run.

Wide Receiver:

Wide receiver was one position where Purdue was in immediate need of an upgrade. Purdue's receiving recruits are pretty much an admission by the staff that they missed on a few wide receivers two year ago. Ideally, Purdue goes out and pulls in a 4* receiver from the high school ranks, but honestly, that wasn't going to happen. Instead, Purdue turned to the junior college ranks to get bigger and more athletic on the outside. Anthony Mahougunou is the second highest ranked player in Purdue's recruiting class. At 6'4, 200 pounds, he should be able to come in and compete for a starting spot at outside receiver the first day of spring practice. Mahougunou is not your typical JuCo player. First off, he's from Paris, France, which is obviously unusual. Next, he has 3 years of eligibility instead of the typical 2 years that most junior college commits are allowed. Domo Young is the other receiver, and like Mahougunou, he is a junior college player Purdue signed to provide immediate help at the outside receiver position. Young is more of your typical junior college player, but at 6'4, 200 pounds, he is another guy that will provide and immediate physical upgrade at the position. Expect to see both of these guys playing substantial minutes this year.

Tight End:

Tight end is another spot on the roster that Purdue needed immediate help. This is the one spot that the Purdue coaches probably wished had turned out different. Purdue needed a guy to come in mid year, probably from the junior college ranks, and compete for a starting job in spring camp. Purdue thought they had their man in Cole Hikutini, who was committed to Purdue for all of 5 minutes before he fell victim to the forked tongue of professional sleaze and amateur motorcycle enthusiast Bobby Petrino. With Hikutini jumping ship right before mid year enrollment, finding a mid year guy at tight end was off the table. Purdue's top high school tight end target was Brycen Hopkins, and Purdue landed the athletic tight end from Nashville. Again, you can see in Hopkins the route Hazell is trying to take the offense down. Hopkins is a big, athletic dude who will look like a Big 10 tight end the day he steps onto campus. Hopkins is a kid that just oozes potential, but it's questionable as to wether he will be prepared to play a significant role as a true freshman because he only has 2 years of football experience under his belt. Purdue then added another big tight end at the end of this recruiting cycle. Jess Trussell is another 6'5 tight end that projects as more of a blocking tight end than Hopkins. That's not saying that Trussell can't catch the ball, but between the two of them Hopkins is the better receiving option and Trussell is the better blocking option. Both of these guys should redshirt, but I'm fairly certain that one of them will play this year. Personally, my money is on Hopkins because he can could be an excellent redzone threat for an offense that struggled to score touchdowns last year.

Quarterback:

Finally, Purdue's highest profile recruit plays the most important position in team sports. It's funny, per a New York times article, in 1996, Tim Couch was the most recruited player in the history of college football. Almost 20 years later, a kid from Kentucky with the exact same physical characteristics as Couch comes along and shatters his records, and you hear very little about him. Elijah Sindelar is a stud. He is a prototypical drop back passer that has all of the measurables, at 6'5, 200 pounds, and all of the production you could ask for in a high school quarterback. Sindelar could have blown up on the recruiting scene, but once he decided to become a Boilermaker, he basically shut everything down. He wasn't going to scouting camps, he wasn't participating in shoe company extravaganzas, and he wasn't flirting with other teams. I can guarantee you that if Elijah Sindelar strung out his recruiting, attended all the camps, and participated in the hype machine he would have ended up as a top 100 player. I can also pretty much guarantee you that he wouldn't be a Boilermaker today if he went through that process. Purdue is the cradle of quarterbacks, and Sindelar has a chance to be the next Jim Everett. He has all of the tools you look for in a drop back passer in a play action passing scheme. If he comes back 100% from his knee injury it's going to be tough for the other quarterbacks to keep him off of the field in the 2016-2017 season.