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Purdue Football Recruiting: Off To A Slow Start

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I’m not going to lie. Things could be better in recruiting.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After pulling in a historic (for Purdue) recruiting class in 2019, (5th rated in the Big10 and 25th rated class overall) unfortunately, the Boilermakers are off to a slow start in 2020. They are currently ranked 12th in the Big10, and 60th overall.

It’s not time to hit the panic button, but things could be going better for the Boilermakers. They are 1 of 6 teams in the Big10 with 3 or fewer recruits, and 1 of 4 without a 4 or 5 star recruit thus far. It’s not that Purdue hasn’t been trying to pull in elite talent, they’ve just missed on some key recruits.

Recent Misses

John Young - OT - 4* - Louisville, Kentucky - UK commit

Rashawn Williams - WR - 4* - Detroit, Michigan - IU commit

Tyler Van Dyke - QB - 4* - Glastonbury, Connecticut - Miami commit

What’s the Problem?

Purdue’s slow start in recruiting isn’t because of one particular problem, instead, it’s a confluence of different problems. When you’re recruiting guys with long offer sheets, one flaw is all it takes to knock you out of contention. Purdue is facing a few up hill battles in the 2020 class.

The Depth Chart

Wide Receiver

The depth chart at Purdue is stacked at some key positions. Wide receiver in particular is full right now. This was always going to be an issue in the 2020 class. Purdue brought in a total of 8 receivers in the last 2 classes. Three of those 8 receivers were ranked as 4 star prospects. That’s a ton of young bodies fighting it out for long term spots on the depth chart.

If you’re curious about how a player like Rashawn Williams picks Indiana over Purdue, look no further than the depth chart. Williams can come in from day 1 and be the man at Indiana. That opportunity isn’t available at Purdue with Moore, Bell, Wright, and company blocking the way.

The hard reality right now is Purdue no longer has the ability to sell early playing time at a few positions, and the Boilermakers simply aren’t good enough right now for guys 4* guys to come in and wait their turn.

Quarterback

Purdue is having to bring extra folding chairs into the quarterback room right now already, and unless a few players transfer, that doesn’t change after this year with Sindelar picking up a 6th year.

The Boilermaker coaching staff is running into the same issue at quarterback that they have a wide receiver. The Purdue profile isn’t prestigious enough for 4* players to come in and sit. I love what Jeff Brohm has done, but there are a bunch of 6-8 win teams in the nation looking for quarterback help sooner rather than later.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be disappointed if Purdue stayed out of the quarterback market all together in 2020 and focused on 2021, but even the depth chart in 2021 doesn’t look great in terms of recruiting.

Kentucky

UK

Recruiting northern Kentucky and the Louisville area in particular has been crucial for Purdue. The Boilermakers are hitting road blocks in the Bluegrass State that weren’t around when Brohm first accepted the Purdue job.

One of the major hurdles is the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats have poured more resources into their football program recently. They have upgraded their facilities and stadium, and on top of that, they are coming off a historically good season that saw Josh Allen win the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Bennie Snell become a household name.

Mark Stoops has job security and Kentucky is rolling in the SEC. Those are two huge selling points for in-state kids.

UL

Petrino getting fired is one of the worst things that could have happened for Purdue recruiting in Louisville. Kentucky high school coaches genuinely did not like Bobby Petrino. The same can be said with in-state players. Even when Louisville was winning big in the ACC with Lamar Jackson, recruiting lagged for them.

Scott Satterfield changes recruiting in Louisville. He’s got to rebuild some bridges that Petrino burned to the ground, but he’s capable of doing just that. He’s going to bring in the kids that would have gone to Louisville if Petrino wasn’t the coach. That will only hurt Purdue recruiting.

Brohm’s time at Purdue

Finally, this will be Brohm’s third season at Purdue. The players he was recruiting during his Western Kentucky days are gone. He doesn’t have the same sway in the state as he did when he arrived.

Sure, he still has solid contacts with the coaches, but he hasn’t invested the same resources in Kentucky as he did when he was Western Kentucky’s coach and knew every player from every small school in the state.

Brohm seemingly pulled Purdue starters Derrick Barnes and Kenneth Major out of thin air in 2017 because he was deeply involved in recruiting Kentucky and saw a couple of small school 2* players that he knew were under rated. In 2018 he managed to snag 4 of the top 10 players in Kentucky, including Rondale Moore. In 2019, Milton Wright was the only player from Kentucky Purdue managed to sign.

2020 isn’t looking good for the Boilermakers in Kentucky either. With Young off the board, Octavious Oxendine, a high 3* DT from Radcliffe, KY, is the only top 10 player in the state Purdue has any traction with, and they’re going to be fighting it out with Kentucky and Tennessee for his services. It’s highly possible that Purdue gets shut out of Kentucky in 2020.

Indiana (The State)

Last year, Indiana produced a bumper crop of talented football players that weren’t afraid to stay in-state to play football. This should be seen as a statistical anomaly more than a long term change.

It’s possible, if not probable, that Gus Hartwig is the only player Purdue will sign in 2020 that ends up rated as a top 10 player in Indiana. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but keep in mind Purdue only signed 2 of the top 10 players in Indiana last year....they just happened to be the best 2 players.

Brohm and his staff are working hard in Indiana every year, but it’s an uphill climb. This year the Boilermakers don’t have the top player in the state living in the shadows of Ross Ade Stadium, or have a glaring need at one of the premier positions on the offense. Getting Hartwig was a huge pull for Purdue, but I don’t see much else in the top 10.

Momentum

Purdue finished last season with a huge thud. Not only did Auburn beat the Boilermakers, they ran them off the field. I know many of you were excited when Purdue got bumped up a few bowl slots, but I was worried Auburn was going to expose Purdue’s weakness on both lines, and that’s exactly what happened.

It’s one thing to lose, it’s another thing to get laughed off the field. Auburn could have put 80 points on the board if they were so inclined. You’ve got to believe that that game has been mentioned a few times on the recruiting trail.

The Solution

Just Win Baby

If Purdue wants to pull in a top 40 class this year, they need to win.

It’s that simple.

There is no room for an Eastern Michigan or Rutgers brain fart on the schedule this year. This needs to be an 8 win season, and honestly, that’s going to be a tough ask with some of the unresolved issues on both sides of the ball (starting again with both lines). Brohm is going to have to pull a few upsets, while at the same time, avoiding an upset.

Going 2-1 before conference play will be crucial, and 3-0 might be the only way Purdue gets to 8 wins. Nevada has to be a win, and they’ve got to split with Vandy and TCU, if not sweep those two teams. This isn’t going to be easy, because both teams are strong where Purdue is weak (I’ll get into that as we get closer to the season).

Purdue is still in desperate need of talent and depth on the roster. The 2019 class didn’t change that. The 2020 class is going to be crucial in the long term and this is going to be another tough coaching job for Brohm, but then again, that’s why he gets paid the big bucks.

There are several reasons why 2020 is going to be difficult in recruiting, but if you’re getting paid like one of the top 10 coaches in the nation, there are no excuses.