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Purdue Football Recruiting: Resetting the Board on Defense

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After a run on commitments, who is left on the defensive recruiting board (best guess).

Purdue v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Purdue recruiting was on fire in June. The Boilermakers seemingly pulled in a new recruit every day for two weeks. I expect July to be significantly slower on the recruiting front. Most of the low hanging fruit is gone, and now Purdue will battle it for the top remaining targets on their board.

Defensive End: (Takes 4-5)

Commits:

George Karlaftis: 6’4, 260 - 4* (96) - West Lafayette, Indiana

Dontay Hunter II: 6’4, 235 - 3* (87) - Westerville, Ohio

Sulaiman Kpaka: 6’3, 235 - 3* (84) - Grand Prairie, Texas

Uncommitted Targets:

J.J. Weaver: 6’6, 230 - 4* (90) - Louisville, KY

Zion Logue: 6’6, 290 - 3* (86) - Lebanon, TN

Nate Leskovec: 6’3, 250 - 3* (85) - Solon, OH

Others to Watch:

Darius Robinson - 6’6, 250 - 3* (87) - Canton, Michigan

MJ Anderson - 6’4, 240 - 3* (85) - Saint Louis, Missouri

Overall:

Defensive end is always going to be a premier position in the Holt defense. On paper, this is probably Purdue’s best defensive end class ever. George Karlaftis is currently dominating the camp scene, and will continue his ascension up the recruiting rankings. In a normal Purdue class, Dontay Hunter would be the headliner, and is probably better (again on paper) than anyone Purdue has brought in at the defensive end position in 10 years. Finally, Kpaka, is the type of raw talent Holt loves to work with. Kpaka is an athletic specimen who might take a redshirt, but is someone to look for in the future.

Purdue has some big fish still on the line at defensive end, which could vault class even further up the rankings. JJ Weaver and Zion Logue are the headliners, and Purdue has had both prospects on campus. Weaver is a 4* beast, and you’ve got to believe Brohm is working all his Louisville connections to land one of the best pass rushers in the midwest.

Zion Logue is a guy Purdue just had on campus. Logue’s recruiting has blown up in the last few days, with the majority of the SEC (including Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) have come through with an offer, making Logue and even tougher pull for the Boilermakers.

Leskovec would not be a consolation prize if Purdue misses on Weaver and Logue, because he is a good player in his own right, and is probably a take regardless of what happens with Weaver and Logue. Laskovec is another guy picking up speed right now, with Notre Dame poking around and considering an offer. If Notre Dame offers, the battle for Leskovec’s signature becomes exponentially more difficult.

Defensive Tackles (2-3)

Commits:

None

Uncommitted Targets:

Isaiah Gibson: 6’4, 300 - 3* (86) - Springfield, Ohio

Jacob Bandes: 6’3, 295 - 4* (96) - Antioch, California

Overall:

Defensive tackle is the hardest position to recruit in college football. Simply put, every team needs a big, 300+ pound defensive tackle, and there isn’t enough of those to go around.

Purdue will attempt to get around this by signing several large defensive end targets who can easily eat and lift their way in to the D-tackle position. That said, you need at least 1 plug and play DT in every class. Last year Purdue signed Ft. Wayne mauler Lawrence Johnson, this year, it looks like Isaiah Gibson is the guy the coaching staff is pushing for.

Gibson is a big, strong dude, and Purdue is in almost constant contact, but this is going to be a rock fight until the end. Gibson has teams from all over the country in hot pursuit including Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Georgia. I don’t expect Gibson to commit any time soon, and he’s a guy Purdue will absolutely wait out.

Jacob Bandes is a new offer, and probably a pipe dream for the Boilermakers. The big man from California has spent some time around George Karlaftis, and Purdue extended an offer a few days ago. It’s thought that he is a UCLA lean, but he’s another guy that will probably sign later in the process. Purdue decided to get involved and hope playing on the same line as Karlaftis is a big draw. I’m skeptical, but if there is any interest, you’ve got to make Bandes tell you no.

Outside of Gibson and the long shot Bandes, it’s hard to get a feel for Purdue’s defensive tackle board. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Purdue sign at least one undersized, off the radar type player at defensive tackle and go down to the wire for Gibson.

Linebacker: (4-5)

Commits:

Khali Saunders: 6’3, 215 - 3* (86) - Elmhurst, Illinois

Chrishawn Long: 6’2, 200 - 3* (81) - Cleveland, Ohio

Chase Triplett: 6’3, 215 - 2* (80) - Michigan City, Indiana

Uncommitted Targets:

Zach Zimos: 6’4, 215 - 3* (87) - Richmond, Texas

Cameron Williams: 6’3, 205 - 3* (89) - Merrillville, Indiana

Overall:

Purdue is in good shape at linebacker. Based on their recruiting takes, Purdue is trying to get taller and faster at the linebacker position. I wouldn’t focus too much on inside or outside linebacker, as the Purdue coaches will move guys around to their best position. I also like a few of these guys at the hybrid linebacker position.

In terms of current commits, Khali Saunders was a big get for Purdue. He’s a phenomenal athlete that plays both linebacker and wide receiver for his high school team. Long and Triplett both fit into the “good clay to mold” category of recruit. These guys are big and athletic, and that’s what the Purdue staff is after in this class.

Purdue would take either (or both) Zimos and Williams. Zimos is a Texas linebacker Purdue has shown the love. I think he probably would slot in at middle linebacker for the Purdue, but would also make an interesting hybrid LB/DE with his size.

Williams is one of the better prospects from Indiana in the 2019 class. He is another great athlete who would look good running around the field and hitting everything that moves in the Holt defense. He is supposed to an Indiana lean, but I get the feeling the longer he stays uncommitted, the better it is for Purdue. Letting Williams get another look at the Holt defense can only be a good thing.

Corner Back (2-3)

Commits:

Myles Beverly: 5’11, 180 - 3* (86) - Macedonia, Ohio

Cameron Allen: 6’1, 185 - 3* (85) - Bluefield, Virginia

Uncommitted:

None currently on my radar (which is a pretty small radar, to be fair)

Overall:

Purdue and Jeff Brohm focused their recruiting efforts on tall, physical CB’s, during their first 2 recruiting classes, and that strategy has carried over to the 19’ class.

Purdue recruiting has made some big moves in the defensive secondary with Beverly and Allen already in the mix. Beverly is long corner with great closing speed, who isn’t afraid to come up and hit receivers underneath. He could play either outside or in the slot for Purdue’s defense.

Allen is even taller, and projects as an outside corner in Purdue’s scheme. He is a fluid athlete that excels at finding the ball and making a play. At 6’1, those 50/50 jump balls suddenly get much easier to defend. Allen is an ideal fit for what Purdue wants to do on defense.

Purdue might take Beverly and Allen and call it a day at the corner position. It isn’t a huge position of need in terms of numbers and Purdue is obviously looking for a specific type of player for the position. It wouldn’t shock me if Purdue rolled the dice on a tall, developmental corner, but that decision will come later on down the line, after a few of the bigger names at other positions make their decision.

Safety: (1-2)

Commits:

Marvin Grant: 6’2, 200 - 4* (91) - Detroit, Michigan

Uncommitted:

Jalen Graham: 6’2, 207 - 3* (86) - Detroit, Michigan

Overall:

Grant is the best safety recruit for Purdue since Bernard Pollard, and the highest rated safety since Stuart Schweigert. Those are two NFL caliber players, and obviously some high expectations for Grant.

Obviously no comparison is perfect, but I like the Pollard comparison. Grant might be a little better in coverage and Pollard was obviously the better hitter at this point in their careers, but Grant has the potential to be a game changer on the back end.

I see him more as a hitter than a ball hawk like Schweigert, but Grant is more than capable of tracking down the deep ball and making plays if that’s what is needed. I see Grant’s true value as guy that can line up all over the field and make plays. He has the opportunity to step in and give Purdue quality from day 1, which is what you expect from a 4* prospect on a team like Purdue.

Jalen Graham is another safety recruit out of Michigan that Purdue would love to pair with Grant. Graham is a great athlete, and may be more of a free safety in Purdue’s scheme. He’s good at locating the ball and breaking up plays, and is murder in the open field with the ball in his hands if he does manage to pick off a pass. If Purdue can add an athlete like Graham to compliment Grant, this will be the best safety class (again, on paper) in Purdue recruiting history. The “experts” like Purdue’s chances, and see it as a Purdue vs Minnesota battle.