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Purdue Football Recruiting: Sweet Home Chicago

Illinois has been good to Purdue. It’s time for Purdue to start being good to Illinois again.

Another Extreme Cold Front Moves Through Midwest Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

I want everyone to go out to your car, pull out the wrinkled road map of the US you haven’t looked at in at least 5 years (no cheating, I want you to have something tangible in front of you, not just Google maps), find Indiana, and then look directly to the west.

The state directly to the west is a little state called Illinois. If you’re a Purdue football fan, you haven’t heard much about that state in recent years, at least in terms of recruiting, but a long time ago, in what seems like a different lifetime, Purdue actually pulled star players out of Illinois on a regular basis. The Illinois to Purdue pipeline, much like the Purdue to Victory pipeline, has all but run dry in recent years, but now is the time to return to our once fertile recruiting grounds, and get some Illinois talent flowing into Purdue once again.

Notable Illinois Boilermakers (Players Drafted): (starting in 1986 but feel free to add more in the comments)

Mark Jackson - WR - Chicago

Frank Kmet - DE - Chicago

Jeff Zgonina - DT - Chicago

Mike Alstott - RB - Joliet

Joe Odom - LB - Bethalto

Rob Ninkovich - DE/LB - New Lennox (Chicago)

Alex Magee - DE - Oswego (Chicago)

Dennis Kelly - OT - Chicago

Nick Mondek - DT/OT - Naperville Chicago

Let’s take a look at what Purdue has been up to in Illinois, starting with Danny Hope and working our way to the present.

Hope Era:

2009: 0

2010: 4

Sean Robinson - QB/LB - Rochester (Central Illinois) - 3* (.8620) - St: 10

Bruce Gaston - DT - St. Rita of Cascia (Chicago) - 3* (.8579) - St: 11

Antoine Lewis - CB - Proviso East (Chicago Area) - 3* (.8431) - St: 21

De’Ron Flood - TE - O Fallon (South West Illinois) - 3* (.8315) - St: 15

2011: 1

Michael Rouse III - DT - Homewood-Flossmoor (Chicago Area) - 3* (.8275) - St: 32

2012: 1

Robert Gregory - QB/DB - Simeon (Chicago) - 3* (.8879) - St: 10

Hope Era Recruiting in Illinois:

Total Recruits: 6

Chicago - 4

Central Illinois - 1

Southwest Illinois - 1

Hazell Era:

2013: 3

Evan Panfil- DE - Lincoln-Way Central (Chicago Area) - 3* (.8216) - St: 35

John Strauser - DE - St. Thomas More (Central East Illinois) - 3* (.8059) - St: 44

Johnny Daniels - DT - Foreman (Chicago) - 2* (.7859) - St: 56

2014: 1

Will Colmery - DE/DT - Nazareth Academy (Chicago Area) - 3* (.8200) - St: 42

2015: 0

2016: 0

Hazell Era Recruiting in Illinois:

Total Recruits: 4

Chicago Area: 3

Central East Illinois - 1

Brohm Era:

2017 - 0


Looking over this, I’m amazed Purdue hasn’t pulled a single player from Illinois in 3 years. If the wind is blowing out of west you can smell Illinois from West Lafayette, and yet, Purdue has completely ignored its neighboring state in recent years, heading all over the country, but ignoring a major population center practically on its doorstep. It makes no sense at all.

Hope’s 2010 class is what a Purdue class from Illinois should look like. Hope pulled two high level recruits out of the Chicago area, and then hit up smaller areas for two additional players. In my opinion, Purdue should be taking a minimum 3 players out of Illinois every year. 2 players from the Chicago area, and then a player from one of the more rural areas. This shouldn’t be a difficult, but it was an impossible task for the last staff.

Brohm, gets a pass for the 2017 class, but I expect him to have a bigger presence in Illinois, and especially in the Chicago area. There is no reason why Purdue can’t have a presence in Chicago. If Brohm is going to turn it around at Purdue, he needs to return to the midwest for talent, and Chicago (and Indianapolis) are two great places to start building.

What Does Recruiting in Illinois Look Like:

Illinois is a strange state, as no one team has a strangle hold on top talent. It seems to be a perfect opportunity for Purdue to move in and pick up some upper level talent.

Teams that signed top 10 Illinois talent in 2017:

Iowa: 1

Miami: 1

Notre Dame: 2

Illinois: 2

Duke: 1

Wisconsin: 1

Michigan St: 2


Michigan St: 4

Penn St: 1

Ohio St: 1

Oklahoma: 1

Iowa St: 1

Ole Miss: 1

Nebraska: 1


Missouri: 1

Notre Dame: 3

Illinois: 2

Michigan St: 1

Wisconsin: 1

Northwestern: 1


LSU: 1

Notre Dame: 2

Ohio St: 1

Tennessee: 2

Northwestern: 3

Nebraska: 1

Look, I get that pulling in top 5* and 4* talent from Illinois probably isn’t going to happen any time soon, but you can’t tell me Purdue can’t compete with schools like Michigan St., Iowa, Duke, Iowa St., and Missouri for top 10 Illinois talent. If Purdue is going to make it back to the middle of the pack, they have to start picking off some top 10 talent from in-state and from neighboring states.

The farther you get from West Lafayette, the harder it’s going to be to sign high 3* low 4* players, and Purdue has to start landing some talent in that range to be competitive. Without a dominant in-state program, Illinois seems like the perfect opportunity for Brohm to improve the top end of his recruiting classes.