On July 30th, TJ Sheffield, a composite 4* WR out of Thompson Station, TN (just south of Nashville) committed to Purdue, hopefully ending a rather tumultuous recruitment that saw him decommit from Tennessee and then have his commitment rejected by Notre Dame. UT and Notre Dame’s loss is Purdue’s gain, as Sheffield has the skill set to be a game breaker in the Brohm offense.
At 5’10, 170 pounds, Sheffield projects as a slot receiver in the Boilermaker offense. His high school team also utilizes him in this capacity, which should make for a smooth transition. Based on the tape I’ve seen, he’s an explosive player (obviously) but I also came away impressed with his hands. He seems to be a natural “hands” catcher, grabbing the ball out in front instead of letting it get into his body. This is a crucial skill for wide receivers at and the fact that it seems to come naturally bodes well for his collegiate career.
I also find it interesting that his highlight film includes several clips of him either running the ball out of the back field, or taking handoffs on the jet sweep. I expect Purdue to incorporate even more shifts and motions as Brohm has a chance to install his entire playbook, and the jet sweep motion should become a staple of the offense with the plethora of speed options coming out of the slot.
Sheffield also brings it in the return game. He has good vision and solid burst, which is invaluable for a return man. It’s not just how fast you can run, but how fast you can run fast (diagram that sentence if you’re bored) in the return game. Purdue was mediocre at best in the return game last year, and that’s something I expect to change with this influx of wide receiver talent. I highly doubt you see a starting running back returning kicks in the future.
When not dominating on the football field, Sheffield is blazing down the track with a PR 10.9 in the 100. That’s legit track speed to match his football skills. If nothing else, Purdue is putting together one hell of a slot receiver relay team.
In the overall scheme of things, this is another big recruiting notch on the Brohm belt. While the thing with Notre Dame was weird (and a horrible look for the Fighting Irish), don’t think Sheffield wasn’t a highly sought after commodity in the recruiting worlds. After the Notre Dame debacle, he added several more offers (UVA, Pitt, Cuse) to his already prodigious offer list.
Purdue is also quietly expanding their recruiting footprint into the Volunteer state. Sheffield joins 19’ commit Da’Joun Hewitt and current Boilermaker Bryson Hopkins and Giovanni Reviere as players hailing from Tennessee. Nashville and Chattanooga both have a ton of football talent, and if Purdue can pull a player or two every year from that area, it’s got to be considered a big plus.
On the field, he brings yet another explosive option to the Boilermaker offense, that is now fully stocked at the slot position with Anthrop, Anderson, Moore, and now Sheffield. I expect to see a good bit of 4 wide with 2 slot options in the offense in the near future. Brohm is stocking the cupboard with versatile slot guys and physical outside receivers. He has overhauled a rather moribund receiving corps in 3 recruiting classes. I expect wide receiver to be a position of strength for Purdue in the near future.
It will be interesting to see where Purdue’s recruiting class goes from here. There will be plenty of big named programs that see Purdue as a potential place to flip players with late offers or late pushes. The Boiler staff will be playing defense to keep some of their bigger named players in the fold, while still attempting to close a few more of their priority recruits for the class of 19’. Of course, all of this will be substantially easier if Purdue can continue their on field momentum from last season. Putting W’s on the board is the best way to help recruiting, as evidenced by the 19’ as it is constituted today.