The NCAA limit on scholarships for FBS Football is 85. In addition to this, schools may not bring in more than 25 players each year on scholarship. That is where things can get very, very confusing on scholarship counts. There used to be ways around things, but now we have grey shirts and blue shirts in addition to blue shirts.
So what does it mean for Purdue? Well, we’re caught in a small pinch right now as we have about as large of an incoming class as you can possibly have. That said, attrition from upperclassmen leaving early has us at a slight disadvantage in terms of the full compliment of players on the roster. It basically means that, while Purdue adds its best recruiting class in decades this fall, it will be a young team short on experience.
First, here is the scholarship grid as best as I can piece it together:
Purdue Football Scholarship Grid
|Tyler Coyle||S||FREE YEAR|
|Greg Long||OL||FREE YEAR|
|J.D. Dellinger||K||FREE YEAR|
|Anthony Watts||DT||FREE YEAR|
|Simeon Smiley||CB||FREE YEAR|
|Semisi Fakasiieiki||DE||FREE YEAR|
|Jackson Anthrop||WR||FREE YEAR|
|Brennan Thieneman||S||FREE YEAR|
|Tyler Witt||OL||Grad Transfer||Grad Transfer|
|Alexander Horvath||RB||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Robert McWilliams||LB/DE||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Dedrick Mackey||DB||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Mark Stickford||OL||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|DJ Washington||OL||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Aidan O'Connell||QB||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Austin Burton||QB||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Jeff Marks||DT||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Jack Plummer||QB||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Elijah Ball||DB||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Kadin Smith||DB||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Jack Cravaack||DE||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Eric Miller||OT||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Lawrence Johnson||DT||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Will Bramel||OL||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Jimmy McKenna||OL||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|K.J. Stokes||DE||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Branson Deen||DE||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Jack Sullivan||DE||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Cory Trice||DB||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Kory Taylor||WR||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Payne Durham||TE||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|DJ Johnson||CB||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|TJ Sheffield||WR||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Marvin Grant||DB||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Da'Joun Hewitt||RB||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Mershawn Rice||ATH||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Cam Craig||OL||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Paul Piferi||QB||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Kyle Bilodeau||TE||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Dave Monnot III||OL||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Spencer Holstege||OL||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Dontay Hunter||DE||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Nyles Beverly||CB||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Khali Saunders||LB||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Garrett Miller||TE||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Sulaiman Kpaka||DL||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Steven Faucheux||DT||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Kyle Jornigan||OL||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Jacob Wahlberg||LB||Freshman (RS)||Sophomore (RS)||Junior (RS)||Senior (5)|
|Yearly Limit Used (25 Max)|
|Total Scholarships Left||1||-1||9||32||83|
|Total Scholarships Used||84||86||76||53||2|
The first thing that stands out is the number of scholarship players available for the 2019: 78. That means we technically have seven open spots for this fall. We’re limited in bringing in graduate transfers and such, however, because of the above mentioned 25 rule. As it stands, Jacob Wahlberg and Chase Triplett are deferring enrollment and will basically count towards the 2020 class based on the grey shirt/blue shirt policy.
There is a great SB Nation article that explains how all his works, but basically a grey shirt means a player sits out the fall semester after high school graduation and enrolls in the following spring, thus starting their eligibility clock then. Triplett has officially signed an NLI, so according to that post he is most likely a grey shirt and will not enroll until spring 2020. Wahlberg has not officially signed yet, and may sign under the blue shirt policy in the article above.
Regardless of how they come on board, Wahlberg and Triplett count as two of the 25 for 2020. That’s not a bad thing, as it is unlikely we’re going to need all 25 spots. Everyone else in the 2019 class incoming took up 24 of the 25 spots, with incoming Grad Transfer linebacker Ben Holt taking spot No. 25. Sure, there could be the possibility of some other grad transfers, specifically on the offensive line, but it would take some gymnastics in order for it to happen post-signing day.
Here is where the numbers get really interesting, however. We have 24 incoming true freshman. We also have 21 players coming off of a redshirt freshman year, meaning of the 78 scholarship players for 2019, 45 (more than half) have never played a college football game. Simply put, we will need some freshmen to step up in big ways.
In addition to those 45, another 13 are sophomores eligibility-wise. These are guys that were recruited as freshmen by Jeff Brohm as part of his first class in 2017 (or, in the cases of guys like Rondale Moore, 2018). That means 58 of the 78 scholarship players are Brohm guys with 3 years or more of eligibility remaining. A 59th, Kai Higgins, was a JuCo transfer in 2017 with three years of eligibility.
Essentially, we’re down to only 19 players from the Hazell era, not counting walk-ons. We also have some space to award walk-ons scholarships in the fall. I am not sure how those count against the 25 limit, or if they do at all, but we will still have space for the 2020 class.
As things stand right now, five of the 25 spots in 2020 are spoken for with Triplett, Wahlberg, and the three committed high schoolers. Purdue will lose 10 scholarship players by exhausting their eligibility after 2019, including Holt. It would have been 11, but Elijah Sindelar was granted a 6th year and will carry over now to 2020 (though not count against the 25 limit because he has already been here). As the chart shows here, we have 5 players counting towards 2020 already, and room for 11 more. There will be attrition and transfers (there always is), but the 2020 class should be smaller than the massive one we brought in. Right now it maxes out at 16, but with transfers and attrition I can see it going to 20. That also gives us room to give some deserving walk-ons like Brennan Thieneman and Malcolm Dotson (two walk-ons that have played extensively in recent years) scholarships in the fall if they count towards the 25 limit. Other candidates are Alexander Horvath and Alfred Armour at running back.
The good news is that we shouldn’t see the same crunch we did this past year. On the field, however, Purdue could have the opposite problem it has had in recent seasons. Instead of having lower recruited players with experience, we now have higher recruited players with no experience. We’re going to see a lot of true freshmen play this fall. David Bell, George Karlftis, Marvin Grant, and others will be on the field from day one. While that is good, it also means freshman mistakes as they get up to speed.
Of course, with this much youth, the 2020 and 2021 season looks as if they could be huge seasons. Purdue stands to lose just 10 players after this year and 11 after next year. That means talent and experience will intersect in 2020 and 2021 for what should be a lot of fun. Our crossover opponents from the East in 2020 are at Michigan, Rutgers, and at Indiana. In 2021 we have at Ohio State, Michigan State, and Indiana (plus a trip to Notre Dame).
I hope this helps clear uptimes he situation a bit. Please keep in mind these counts are UNOFFICIAL. I have put them together in a running Google sheet based on the current roster, confirmed signed LOIs through Purdue’s football Twitter, and past recruiting classes.