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Purdue Football Recruiting: 2021 Most Wanted

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The 2021 class is all about improving the defense.

Indiana v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Recruiting is always tough to follow, and this year it’s doubly tough. With the current state of affairs, I expect a more home grown feel to the 2021 class. Luckily for Purdue, 3 out of my top 5 most wanted recruits hail from the Boilermaker state.

Yanni Karlaftis - OLB - 4* (92) - 6’3, 215 - West Lafayette, IN

Yanni was the top recruit on my list going into the season and nothing has changed. Purdue is desperate for playmakers on defense and Yanni makes plays all over the field from his linebacker position. He projects as an outside linebacker in Purdue’s new scheme, and needs to add a little weight to hold up, but I don’t think that will be a problem with his frame.

Hometown Purdue appears to have the inside track with Yanni. Things are a long way from over, but the big names in the recruiting business seem to think he’ll join his older brother George for a few years (or at least one) at Purdue. I won’t argue with them.

Any Nose Tackle - DT - 6’0+, 300+ - Parts Unknown

If Purdue has designs on running a base 3-4 defense, they’re going to have to find someone, anyone, that can play nose tackle. Lorenzo Neal fills that spot this year, and Lawrence Johnson offers a nice back up, but those are the only two guys that fit the description on the current roster.

The Boilermakers are flush with 3 tech defensive tackles, who will play end in the new 3-4, but signing a block eater in the middle is crucial to holding up against the run. I don’t see anyone currently on the Purdue recruiting radar that fits the description after Derrick Harmon, a 6’2, 320 DT out of Michigan, decided to stay home and play for Sparty.

Purdue has a few long shot offers on the board right now, but aren’t considered to be in the mix with any of them currently. A big year from Neal at nose could help the Boilermakers case, but as it stands now, I expect this hole to be filled by either a JuCo or grad transfer unless something major breaks Purdue’s way in high school recruiting.

There aren’t many guys that can play nose, and it’s one of the reasons why you don’t see a ton of college teams playing the 3-4. Bob Diaco is known as an outstanding recruiter, and now it’s time for him to flex those recruiting muscles and find a big guy to anchor his line moving forward.

Austin Booker - DE - 3*(86) - 6’5, 235 - Greenwood, Indiana

Booker’s recruiting was starting to blow up before everything stopped, and it’s easy to see why. The lanky defensive end from Center Grove High School hasn’t come close to filling out his frame, and is already a beast on the field.

There are higher rated players on Purdue’s board, but Booker gets the nod because of fit. Ideally, you want tall, strong ends if in the 3-4 front. I think you’ll see several guys you thought were defensive tackles lining up at end for the Boilermakers. I see Booker as a guy that can easily play at 270+ once he gets in the weight room and hits the training table full time. That’s ideal for what Purdue needs at defensive end.

Landing Austin isn’t going to be easy. He has over 20 scholarship offers. I don’t see any true “blue blood” offers yet, but teams like Minnesota and Iowa have offered, and they’ve made a killing (Iowa especially) on raiding Indiana for defensive talent. Purdue’s had Booker on campus already, and were in on him early in the process. This is a recruiting battle the new defensive staff needs to win.

Daylan Carnell - CB - 3*(87) - 6’2, 195 - Indianapolis, Indiana

Purdue has tried desperately to add size at the corner position, but outside of Corey Trice, the guys they’ve landed in the “big corner” category haven’t panned out. It turns out being big doesn’t matter if you’re not fast enough, or athletic enough, to play the position. Carnell is big, fast, and athletic.

Diaco likes to play zone and let his corners come up and make hits, and Carnell has that ability. He can also match up one-on-one on the outside and compete with bigger receivers for jump balls and back shoulder fades.

The Boilermakers are in Carnell’s top 3, along with Missouri and West Virginia. Purdue has Coach Poindexter and Coach Shephard on the case, so you know they’re serious about landing the Ben Davis product. This is another in-state talent that Purdue needs to lock up.

Trinity Bell - TE/DE - 3* (87) - 6’7, 250 - Albertville, Alabama

Bell is the only offensive player I have in my top 5. He makes the list because his combination of size and athleticism could be a game changer in Jeff Brohm’s offense. When he’s not playing football, Bell is a star on the basketball court and has several division 1 basketball offers to go along with his long list of football suitors.

Purdue has plenty to sell at the tight end position after Brycen Hopkins showed everyone what an athletic tight end can do in the middle of the field for the Boilermakers. They’re going to need to sell that hard, because Bell is the longest shot (other than random nose tackle) on the list.

Purdue made Bell’s top 8, but that top 8 also includes Tennessee and Auburn, along with an assortment of other solid programs. Bell made several trips to Knoxville before everything stopped, and Auburn is just down the road from his home town. It’s going to be hard to pry Bell away from the S.E.C. but Purdue still has a punchers chance.

Other Players I Like:

Donaven McCully - QB - 4* - Indianapolis, Indiana

McCully is the top, and hopefully only, quarterback on Purdue’s radar. He’s more of a dual threat than most of the other quarterbacks on the roster, but there is currently a huge log jam at the position. Until that shakes out, I like McCully but he’s a luxury pick up. Brohm has made several luxury picks on offense in the last few classes. It’s hard to justify a 6th scholarship quarterback unless something changes.

Mar’Keise Irving - RB - 4* - Country Club Hills, Illinois

Like McCully, I like Irving as a player, and if Purdue is going to take a running back in this class, I hope it’s Irving. That said, this is another position Purdue is stocked up at the moment. The Boilermakers added 4* Tirek Murphy and speed merchant Marcellus Moore to a running back room already containing King Doerue, Da’Joun Hewitt and Alexander Horvath. Having 6 backs on your roster isn’t unusual, but at some point, you’ve got to balance out the surplus of quarterbacks and wide receivers, and running back seems like the logical position to carry 5 instead of 6.

Joshua Sales - OT - 3* - Brownsburg, Indiana

Sales is the type of offensive tackle prospect Dale Williams likes to bring into the fold, the problem being that he’s already brought a ton of similar prospects into the fold including current 2021 commit Jaelin Alstott-VanDeVanter. This is going to be a small class, and if Purdue takes another tackle prospect, it should be Sales, but at some point, Coach Williams needs to turn one of these tall tackle prospects into a tall tackle player. Sales could 100% be that guy, but I’m a bit jaded with the state of the line. Purdue may need to bank this scholarship to bring in a grad transfer again next year.