As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Purdue added it’s first verbal commitment to the 2020 class today when Ben Kreul, a 6’3, 220 pound, 3*(85) middle linebacker from Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin braved the polar vortex and froze in his position in Purdue’s 2020 class.
It’s hard not see current Boilermaker star Markus Bailey in Kreul’s skill set. He’s a taller middle linebacker, who is equally adept as a run stopper or in coverage. As he continues to fill out his frame, it’s easy to see him as a 3 down linebacker who can excel in either the 4-3 base defense or as one of the linebackers in Purdue’s 4-2-5 nickel package. Much like Bailey, Kreul’s versatility and athleticism is what separates him from other recruits.
In the run game, he flows sideline to side. He can get to the edge and blow up a play without getting caught up in the wash. He appears to have solid play recognition skills and can slash into the backfield and make a tackle for loss when he sees the opportunity. He has a solid motor and keeps himself active in plays.
In the pass game he makes solid drops and has excellent hands for a linebacker (he also moonlights as a tight end, as you will see in his video). It’s one thing to be in position to make and interception, it’s another thing entirely to actually catch the ball. That’s why I think the Bailey comparison (a 2 way player in high school also) is solid. Purdue zones up their middle linebacker quite a bit, and Kreul’s ability to read the quarterback and break on passes is excellent.
It will be interesting to see how he develops physically in the next few years. Right now, at 6’3, 220, he’s got the size to play outside, but might be a touch light to stay in the middle against power run teams. He’s tall, so he’s got to put on some mass in his legs and rear end to handle climbing guards and bruising tailbacks. That’s easily achievable in Purdue’s developmental system, so it’s not something I’m particularly concerned about. His ability to mature physically will dictate how soon he’s able to get on the field, but I think he’s player you may see early in his career, at least on special teams, if not as a nickel linebacker on passing downs.
It’s always nice to get the first recruit on the board, and to get a quality out-of-state recruit like Kreul on board is even better.
Nebraska is going to be a thorn in Purdue’s side, both on the field and in recruiting for years to come with Scott Frost at the helm. Purdue went head up with Nebraska (and Iowa State) for Kreul and came out on top. If Purdue is going to stay ahead of the suddenly resurgent (at least in terms of recruiting) Cornhuskers, these are the types of recruiting battles Purdue must win.
As I mentioned in another article, Purdue’s normal recruiting hot spots of Indiana and Kentucky are looking a little dry in the 2020 class. The Boilermakers pulling an All-State linebacker out of Wisconsin, a state they don’t normally prioritize in recruiting, is a great sign for the 2020 class. Purdue’s ability to recruit on the road is going to dictate the success of this class.
Kreul talked with Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports about his commitment.
One thing that stood out is Kreul’s mention of Purdue’s Director of Player Personnel Eron Hodges as one of the guys on the Boilermaker staff that he formed a connection with.
Hodges, in my opinion, is going to be an absolute star for Purdue on the recruiting trail, and I expect to hear his name mentioned several times in the 2020 class. For all his offensive wizardry, Brohm’s ability to put together a staff of young, dynamic coaches mixed with veterans like Dale Williams and Nick Holt may be his best work.
I expect Purdue to take 3 linebackers in this class. Kreul’s commitment leaves two more slots for the Boilermakers to fill (excluding obvious over sign level talents). Purdue is still building their linebacker recruiting board and seemingly handing out offers on a daily basis, but one linebacker I have on my radar is 3*(86) LB Jordan Turner out of Farmington, Michigan. The Boilermakers pulled some real talent out of Michigan last year, and Turner is just the sort of versatile linebacker Purdue covets.
Turner has an offer from Purdue, along with numerous other Big10 schools including a recent offer from the home state Wolverines, and I expect the Boilermakers to try and get him on campus at some point, either officially or unofficially, in the near future.