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Purdue Football Recruiting: The Indiana Problem

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Purdue must improve in-state recruiting.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue needs to improve their recruiting across the board. In order to achieve this, they need to be competitive in recruiting Indiana. Purdue hasn’t been competitive in signing players from Indiana in quite some time. To better understand Purdue’s futility in recruiting player from Indiana, let’s take a look at the last 2 head coaches.

Hazel’s Indiana Recruiting:

Note: All rankings are 24/7 composite rankings

2016: 2

Joshua Hayes - DB - Pike High School (Indianapolis) - 3* (.8264) - St: 17

Jackson Anthrop - WR - Central Catholic (Lafayette) - 3* (.8169) - St: 24

2015: 5 (includes 2 specialists)

Matt McCann - OL - Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis) - 3* (.8563) - St: 13

Markell Jones - RB - Columbus East (Columbus) - 3* (.8332) - St: 20

Peyton Truitt - OL - West Lafayette (West Lafayette) - 2* (.7963) - St: 28

Joe Schopper - P - Cathedral (Indianapolis) - 2* (.7931) - St: 29

Ben Makowski - OL/LS - Penn (Mishawaka) - 2* (.7615) - St: 37

2014: 2

Gelen Robinson - DE - Lake Central (St. John) - 3* (.8599) - St: 9

Kirk Barron - C - Marian (Mishawaka) - 3* (.8292) - St: 14

2013: 2

Danny Etling - QB - Terre Haute South Vigo (Terre Haute) - 4* (.8967) St: 5

David Yancey - RB - Lake Central (St. John) - 3* (.8244) - St: 18

Hazel brought in 11 total Indiana recruits and averaged around 2 players a year from Purdue’s home state during his 4 year tenure. 2015 is the aberration in this trend, but it can be explained by signing a long snapper and a punter from Indiana in that class. In 4 recruiting classes, he signed 2 players ranked in the top 10 in Indiana.

Player Locations:

Indianapolis - 3

Lafayette / West Lafayette - 2

Mishawaka - 2

St. John - 2

Columbus - 1

Terre Haute - 1

Hope’s Indiana Recruiting:

2012: 3

Aloyis Gray: ATH - Pike (Indianapolis) - 3* (.8371) - St: 23

Jimmy Herman: LB - Carmel (Carmel) - 3* (.8335) - St: 26

Danny Anthrop: WR - Central Catholic (Lafayette) - 3* (.8148) - St: 31

2011: 2

Randy Gregory: ATH - Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers) - 3* (.8199) - St: 15

Shane Mikesky: WR - Zionsville (Zionsvilee) - 3* (.8033) - St: 21

2010: 3

Joe Gilliam: LB - Southport (Indianapolis) - 3* (.8525) - St: 8

Ryan Issac: DE - Michigan City (Michigan City) - 3* (.8505) St: 9

Charles Torwudzo: WR - Brownsburg (Brownsburg) - 3* (.8241) St: 15

2009: 0

Player Locations:

Indianapolis: 2

Lafayette: 1

Fishers: 1

Zionsville: 1

Michigan City: 1

Brownsburg: 1

Carmel: 1

Hope brought in 8 players from Indiana in his 4 year tenure, averaging 2 players a year. He failed to bring in a single player from Indiana in his inaugural 2009 class. He signed 2 top 10 players from the state, both in his 2010 class.

Hope and Hazel combined for 8 total recruiting classes. They signed 19 players from Indiana, and 4 top 10 players, and 1 4* player. This futility in in-state recruiting is one of the reasons both coaches only lasted 4 seasons.

Brohm’s Indiana Recruiting:

2017: 2

Mark Stickford: OL - Carmel (Carmel) - 3* (.8133) - St: 23

Jacob Abrams: DB - Carmel (Carmel) - 2* (.7923) - St: 29

Brohm obviously gets a pass on in-state recruiting for this class. He came in way behind and tended to stick with guys he was recruiting at Western Kentucky. While Indiana is not a hotbed of football talent, Purdue should average at least 5 in-state players per year, at a minimum. This keeps in-state interest in the Purdue football program stoked, and keeps recruiting pipelines open.

Purdue is an after thought (if they are a thought at all) for in-state athletes, and that must change for Coach Brohm to achieve his goals of bringing Purdue back to prominence (or at least relevance) in the Big 10.

Recommendations For Achieving My Indiana Recruiting Goal:

Plant a Flag in Indianapolis:

Indiana is a tough place to recruit because of the rural nature of the state. You end up playing whack-a-mole with schools if you start chasing recruits at smaller schools. You might develop a great relationship with a coaching staff, but that school might only produce a D1 player once a decade.

Indianapolis and surrounding suburbs are the key to recruiting Indiana. If you can pull 3 players from the Indianapolis area every year, then you can go out into the rural areas to find the hidden gems.

The 3 priority Indianapolis (and surrounding area) Schools:

  1. Cathedral - Purdue needs to pull at least one player from Cathedral every year. 2017 was a somewhat down year in terms of recruits, but Cathedral still had 3 of the top 20 players in the state. In the 2018 class, Cathedral has at least 4 at this point. Purdue should have more than 1 Cathedral player on their roster.
  2. Ben Davis - Ben Davis is another school the Brohm needs to prioritize. They had 3 top 20 recruits in the 2017 class and will have at least 2 in the 2018 class. They continually pump out D1 recruits, and Purdue needs a piece of the action.
  3. Carmel - While not Indianapolis and not quite as prolific as the two above mentioned schools, I’m calling it close enough. Brohm did a good job of hitting up Carmel for both of Purdue’s in-state recruits in the 2017 class. There were 2 additional top 20 Carmel recruits in the 2017 class. The 2018 class doesn’t appear to be quite as fruitful, but it’s still early. We’ve got a little momentum at Carmel right now, and we need to maintain that connection into the future.

Gamble on Indiana Players:

If you’re going to take low 3*/2* players, take them from schools where you’re going to return. I would have no issue with Brohm filling the bottom part of each recruiting class with Indiana kids. Cathedral have a borderline kid? Take him over a kid from a school you’ll never visit again.

You saw Brohm do a little of this with Jacob Abrams of Carmel this year, and I think it’s a solid strategy moving forward. Low 3*/2* players are always going to be a gamble, so lets gamble some place where we want to develop an ongoing relationship.

Do Your Work Early:

I never felt like Hazel was ahead enough in recruiting to work a year or two in advance. Recruiting is something that takes time. You want to know how Purdue signs a 4* kid from Indiana? They evaluate the 2020 class, pick a few of the kids they think will mature into top level players, and get to work.

This is where developing contacts in the high school coaching ranks pays the biggest dividends. High School coaches know who is coming through the pipeline, and if they like you, they might give you a “heads up” before the major programs start sniffing around. If you can get a 2 year head start in recruiting, the kid will at least have a hard choice to make when Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan start tossing out scholarships their junior year. Sure, you still might not land the kid, but it might be the only shot you have.

In Conclusion:

Purdue can’t build a team with only Indiana players, but they can’t build a team without Indiana players. Coach Brohm and staff need to make a concerted effort to get back into the Indiana recruiting game. It sounds like that’s just what Coach Brohm is working on right now.

I will give you guys updates throughout the offseason and high school season on Indiana recruiting this year.