Coach Jeff Brohm and his staff of intrepid assistant coaches have hit the road looking for talent. In a shift from the last coaching regime, Brohm is actually using roads to do some in-state recruiting. Indiana might not have a huge cache of usable talent, but there is certainly enough to help build Purdue back into respectability.
2018 Indiana Offers (to date):
Note: All rankings are 247 composite
Emil Ekiyor: G - 4* - 6’2, 322 - (.9517) IN: 1 - Cathedral (Indianapolis)
Purdue had to make this offer, but has no legitimate chance of landing Ekiyor. Ekiyor is a plug and play guard that dominates in state competition with his incredible combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Ekiyor would be the best guard on Purdue’s team this year.
Favorite: Michigan (verbal commit)
Ekiyor has a long list of blue bloods lined up in case his commitment to Michigan wanes. He recently received an offer from Alabama. Purdue simply isn’t in that league right now (and has never been in that league to be honest).
Markese Stepp: RB - 4* (.9202) IN: 2 - 6’0, 205 - Cathedral (Indianapolis)
Stepp is a guy Purdue had to offer, but knew they had no shot of actually signing, at least as the way things sit right now. Stepp is the type of explosive play maker Purdue needs, but the current state of the roster and program prevents the Boilermakers from being a competitor for his commitment. Stepp is the favorite for Mr. Football in Indiana.
Favorite: Notre Dame (verbal commit)
Chances: Very Low
The only scenario that could put Stepp into play for Purdue is an implosion in South Bend leading to a coach change. Even then, Purdue would have to have an incredible season (6-7 wins) to hit Stepp’s radar. This is the type of player that Purdue needs to start working for early. As of now, the upper crust of Indiana football is out of reach unless there is a preexisting connection to the Purdue football program (ie. Gelen Robinson).
Cameron McGrone: OLB - 4* (.9001) IN: 3 - 6’1, 215 - Lawrence Central (Indianapolis)
McGrone is the type of outside linebacker that would work well in Holt’s system. He’s a guy that can come off the edge and get after the quarterback, and that appears to be Holt’s main goal for his linebackers. McGrone, unfortunately, is almost certainly out of reach for Purdue. This is another, “why not” that isn’t expected to yield anything.
Favorite: Notre Dame
Chances: Very Low
McGrone getting a chance to see Purdue’s linebackers play this season is the only reason I ranked this as very low and not none. System and playing time are two things that tend to have legs in recruiting, probably not enough legs to interest McGrone, but still, at least it’s something. This is the type of player that Purdue should be competitive with 2 or 3 years down the line if things work out for Brohm.
Donald Johnson: DB - 3* (.8765) IN: 4 - 5’11, 170 - North Central (Indianapolis)
Johnson would be a great fit at corner for Purdue. Holt puts value on bigger defensive backs that can win at the line of scrimmage and compete down field on jump balls. Johnson has that sort of size and athleticism (he’s also a very good point guard). Fit and opportunity are both there for Johnson and Purdue.
Key Offers: Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Cincinnati
This is where things start getting interesting on the Purdue recruiting board. In some respect, I consider Johnson the in state barometer for Purdue. Here is a guy with good fit at a position of need. Purdue has to be competitive for in state guys like Johnson. You’ve got to think Coach Poindexter will be working hard for Johnson.
Very excited to have received a scholarship from Purdue University‼️ pic.twitter.com/qq4ZmBJjzI— schleepIII (@DjJohnson1127) February 10, 2017
Madison Norris: DE/OLB - 3* (.8400) IN: 10 - 6’4, 200 - Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers)
Norris is a quick twitch player that comes off the edge and gets after the quarterback. He plays defensive end in high school, but could either be a defensive end or a linebacker in Holt’s system. Purdue’s new defensive scheme likes tall players on the outside to disrupt passing lanes. Norris would seem like a perfect fit.
Key Offers: Indiana, Minnesota, Pitt, NC. State, Louisville, Tennessee
Norris is another player Purdue needs to be competitive with right now. He fits the scheme and would get on the field sooner rather than later at Purdue. You’re going to see several players with offers from Indiana and Minnesota. Purdue has to be able to go toe to toe with both programs if they want to move up in the Big10 landscape.
Reese Taylor: ATH (WR/DB) - 3* (.8400) IN: 11 - 5’10, 155 - Ben Davis (Indianapolis)
Evaluation: Taylor is Ben Davis’s quick twitch quarterback. At the college level, Taylor most likely projects as a slot receiver, but I could also see him playing slot corner with his quickness. He could also contribute on special teams as a kick / punt returner depending on his ability to field kicks.
Ben Davis has a bunch of good athletes, and generally speaking, your best athlete (unless he’s a jumbo player) ends up at quarterback. Taylor is electric with the ball in his hands, and the Ben Davis coaches decided they would like the ball in his hands on every offensive play.
Key Offers: Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota
Chances: Below Average
Indiana has been working Ben Davis (Tom Allen is the former Ben Davis head coach) and Purdue hasn’t in recent years. It’s going to be hard for Brohm to close the gap on a kid like Taylor. The longer his recruitment plays out, the better it is for Purdue, because out of his key offers, the Boilermakers should (in theory) have the most use of a shifty slot receiver, and Taylor needs to see that play out on the field. I think he ends up at I.U., but stranger things have happened.
Lawrence Johnson: DT - 3* (.8316) IN: 15 - 6’4, 285 - R Nelson Snider (Ft. Wayne)
Evaluation: Johnson is a late rising prospect from Ft. Wayne that will pick up momentum in recruiting as recruiting boards progress. At 6’4, 285 he has the frame to be a prototypical 300+ pound defensive linemen with some time in the weight room and at the training table.
Johnson is quick for his size and has a plus motor for a big man. If he can maintain his quickness at a higher weight, he could be a disruptive interior pass rusher. I like that Johnson does’t just bully offensive linemen, but uses solid hand work and initial burst off the ball to beat guards. This translates well when moving up to the next level, where the bull rush is shut down by bigger and stronger guards.
Key Offers: Western Michigan, Bowling Green
Chances: Above Average
Purdue is in desperate need of defensive tackles, and Johnson is a solid defensive tackle. It seems like a good match. Purdue is currently his only Power 5 offer, but I expect that to change, as athletic defensive tackles are hard to find. To put Johnson’s current ranking into perspective, he is currently rated higher than Alex Criddle, Anthony Watts, and Lorenzo Neal were coming out of high school. In my opinion, Johnson should be a priority for Purdue.
Branson Deen: DT/DE - 3* (.8300) IN: 16 - 6’3, 255 - Lawrence Central (Indianapolis)
Evaluation: Deen is a talented defensive lineman that currently plays defensive end in an odd front defensive for Lawerence Central, but might project better as a defensive tackle in college.
Deen reminds me a little of former Boilermaker Ryan Watson in terms of his versatility. He might stay outside and be a strong side defensive end, but he could gain some weight and be quick interior linemen, utilizing his quickness against guards and centers.
Key Offers: Syracuse, Bowling Green
Purdue needs defensive linemen, Deen is a solid in-state defensive lineman with a high ceiling. He may be under rated at the moment because he started on the offensive line as a sophomore before moving to the defensive line last season. He is a bit of a tweener at the moment, which may also be depressing his value somewhat. I like the idea of pairing him with the afore mentioned Lawrence Johnson for an in-state defensive tackle tandem.
Much like Lawrence Johnson, I expect Deen to blow up as the recruiting process moves along. There is always a premium on athletic defensive linemen, and Deen is just that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Big10 teams jump into his recruiting picture.
Elijah Ball: DB - 3* (.8099) IN: 21 - 6’1, 190 - Ben Davis (Indianapolis)
Evaluation: Ball plays an interesting position at Ben Davis. Nominally, he plays defensive back, but often, he bails quickly into his zone and he almost looks like a safety. He moves up to the line in the redzone and plays more bump man coverage, which is what I like to see out of a DB for Holt’s aggressive scheme.
Regardless of his position, Ball is a solid hitter from the secondary and has a knack for finding the ball. He might not have the top end speed you’re looking for at corner, but he is big enough and physical enough to make up for any speed deficiencies. Wide receivers keep getting bigger, so it’s imperative to find some big corners. Ball fits that mold.
Key Offers: Colorado St., Cincinnati
Chances: Above Average
Ball is the perfect example of an in-state guy with big upside that Purdue should absolutely take a shot at. In the last regime, Purdue seemed intent to sign similarly ranked out of state players over in-state guys. Ball would be a solid pick up for Purdue and is another guy that could move up the recruiting boards as the season progresses.
Holt’s defense puts a premium on big, physical defensive backs, and Ball certainly fits that description. If he doesn’t fit at corner back, he could immediately be shifted back to safety. I have a hard time seeing how Ball wouldn’t contribute somewhere on the field during his Purdue career.