The final 247 Sports rankings for the 2019 came out today, and Purdue recruits, for the most part, faired well. Personally, I like 247 better than Rivals for Purdue recruiting, because 247 seems to have a better ground game in the midwest. Lead 247 expert Steve Wiltfong in particular spends a good bit of time in the heartland, which tends to boost 247 evaluations for our upper tier players.
Note: I’m breaking the class into several categories, based not only on star ranking, but also numerical rankings. Also note that these are the 247 rankings, and not the composite rankings. That’s why you don’t see Marvin Grant (I’ll get to him later).
5* (98 and Up)
This is the elite group that should be able to come in and contribute at a high level in their first season (depending on circumstance of course). There were 32 total 5* players according to 247 in the 2019 class.
George Karlaftis - 5*(98) - National Rank, 27 - Position Rank (SDE) - 4, State (IN) - 1
Karlaftis dropped 16 positions nationally in the final 247 rankings, but still came in as a 5* player. Questions about his ceiling played a factor in his drop. Some evaluators see Karlaftis as somewhat of a finished product, at least athletically, which may limit his overall ceiling. Other see him as a bit of a tweener, who may end up at defensive tackle instead of defensive end.
None of that matters.
Purdue has a legit 5* player hitting campus next year and I didn’t ever anticipate typing this sentence 2 years ago. Karlaftis is Big10 ready right now, and should see significant playing time next season. He’s strong and aggressive with a non-stop motor. There may be some questions about his overall ceiling, but his floor from day 1 is starting defensive end for Purdue. I see him as a 3 down player, with the potential to move inside on passing downs to boost Purdue’s interior pass rush. If he doesn’t start 4 years (or 3 if everything works out and he declares early) I will be shocked.
High 4* (97-95)
This group is just a step below the 5* rank. In general, these are elite athletes with one minor blemish that keeps them out of the 5* category. Players in this group should make an immediate impact (again, depending on the program).
David Bell - 4*(95) - National Rank, 97 - Position Rank (WR), 17 - State (IN) - 2
Bell dropped 15 positions nationally in the final 246 rankings, but still fell into my high 4* category. The small knock on Bell is his overall top end speed. He’s fast, but maybe not quite 5* fast. Again, this is just nit picking by the evaluators. Bell is considered one of the best 100 high school football players in the nation, and considering the number of high school kids that play football, that’s pretty impressive.
Like Karalaftis, I could see Bell starting for Purdue from day 1 at the wide receiver position that Zico / Wright held down last year. I also anticipate him taking over a few of the shorter routes Moore ran this year. I expect Brohm to get Bell into space and let him use his elite quickness and playmaking abilities. While Rondale was amazing last year, I also feel like he was a bit over worked. Teams late in the year were able to key their entire defense on him. Bell should take some of that work load and make it harder for teams to focus solely on stopping Moore.
Bell will have some stiff competition in a suddenly crowded and talented receiver room at Purdue, and it’s possible he won’t be listed as an actual starter early in the year, but he will play early and often for the Boilermakers.
Mid 4* (94-92)
This group wasn’t in the running for 5* status, but are still considered elite prospects. There may be a few more question marks with these players, but in general, they are expected to be at least 3 year starters (for most programs) and contribute as Freshmen.
Milton Wright - 4*(93) - National Rank, 159 - Position Rank (WR), 23 - State (KY) - 4
Wright moved up 5 spots in the final rankings. He played at a small 2A school in Kentucky, which makes his evaluation a little more complicated. Further complicating matters is the fact that he was a two way player in high school.
Every time he stepped onto the field in high school, he was the best athlete. Much like Markell Jones as a high school player, it’s hard to evaluate a guy that can simply outrun everyone on the field. It could also make his first year adjustment slightly more difficult as he learns what he can and can’t do on the field, after being able to do everything in high school.
Again, though, those are just small blemishes on an otherwise sterling record. Wright has all the physical characteristics you’re looking for in a wide receiver. The only real question is how long it will take him to adjust to a college game. At Purdue, he could play as the outside receiver on either side. I tend to see him more as a physical receiver destined to play in the Sparks role from last year. In fact, if he wants to start next year, Sparks is the player he’s going to have to beat out for the position. I’m not sure if he’ll win the starting job, but I fully expect him to be a major contributor early in his career.
Low 4* (91-89)
These guys are still elite, but maybe not players you should expect to come in and start from day 1. These are guys that should be good, but probably fall more into the 2 or 3 year starter for most programs, as opposed to a 3 or 4 year starter.
Kyle Bilodeau - 4*(91) - National Rank, 268 - Position Rank (TE), 11 - State (VA) - 8
247 has Bilodeau ranked significantly higher than the other recruiting services because they see his potential to come in and make and immediate impact as a pass catching tight end. He’s got an incredible frame at 6’5, 240ish to go with his solid athletic abilities.
As a senior in high school, he lined up at multitude of positions on offense. He played everywhere from an attached tight end, to a slot receiver, to a single outside receiver. His ability to go up and make a contested catch will serve him well in college. As with most tight ends, his ability to block in the run game will be the last thing that develops. He’s got the size and want to, and should be able to develop the technique.
I think you’ll see Bilodeau on the field quite a bit in Purdue’s 2 TE set next year. Physically, he’ll be ready to compete from day 1, and having two 6’5 TE’s (Hopkins) flanking the tackles in the red zone will be an absolute nightmare for defenses. He may not be a nominal starter, but I anticipate seeing him early and often. I think he may be the most under rated piece of Purdue’s recruiting class (if a 4* player can be under rated).
Steven Faucheux - 4*(90) - National Rank, 342 - Position Rank (DT), 23 - State (OH) - 14
Faucheux is steadily slid down the 247 rankings since his Jr year, but that’s a product of moving from defensive end to defensive tackle. At 6’4 (possibly 6’5) and 270ish pounds, he’s tall and thin for a defensive tackle, as opposed to being a ready made strong side defensive end at the same size. He’s got plenty of potential, but he’s got some filling out to do if he wants to be a 3 down defensive tackle in the Big10, which moved him down the rankings.
To make a comparison to a former Purdue player, he’s similar to Jake Replogle in terms of size right now. That doesn’t mean he won’t fill out, but there is always a question about players maintaining their athleticism that made them and elite prospect while adding significant weight. I know everyone is excited about Faucheux (I am as well), but it may be a little much to expect him to come in and start at defensive tackle next year. I see him coming in splitting time with Watts at 3 tech position....unless Watts is forced to move over and play nose for Neal, then he would have a clearer path to a starting position. If that happens, I will be extremely concerned about Purdue’s ability to stop the run.
I don’t want anyone to construe this as me knocking Faucheux, because he has incredible potential, but it is rare for a defensive tackle to start from day 1. Some managed expectations may be in order.