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Purdue Football: A New Recruiting Perspective?

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Could Purdue become Transfer U on defense?

Iowa v Purdue

* Disclaimer

I am but a humble blogger with no official (or unofficial) access to the Purdue athletic department. This is more of a mental exercise than anything else. I’m sure there are ramifications that I haven’t considered to my proposal, but again... I’m blogger not a sports admin guy. All of this is to basically say, this is just a brain worm of mine and probably has no grounding in reality, but I thought it would be interesting to talk about it, and Travis lets me write whatever I want...so here we go.

Blow It Up, Start From Scratch

This is a decent summation of the defensive coaching staff for Purdue over the last 2 years. It’s been an assistant coaching massacre, with no survivors. Coach Poindexter was the last defensive coach on the S.S. Boilermaker and managed to hop on a life boat sent by Penn State last week.

What’s at Purdue this season is a pu-pu platter of unemployed coaches looking for a gig. It’s reminiscent of the end of the Hope and Hazell era, where Purdue set up a booth next to the assistant coach unemployment office and waited to see who would show up. That doesn’t mean it will end like the Hope and Hazell era, but the parallels are obvious. Simply put, I’m not sure any of the Boilermakers defensive coaches (other than Marty Biagi) would be at Purdue if they weren’t highly available. That’s not an indictment on their coaching abilities, but it is the truth.

Putting together a coaching staff like this is tough. You’re looking to build a smooth running machine both in terms of developing talent and recruiting talent, and it’s tough to do without having much say in who is available to hire. You take what you can get and hope they can work together.

That’s where Purdue is right now, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The defensive recruiting board has been totally reset, and Purdue isn’t in a good place with any elite defensive players. Guys like Center Groves’s Caden Curry, Brebeuf’s Joe Strickland, and Westfield’s Popeye Williams all look like lost causes at this point. To get straight to the heart of the matter; these guys couldn’t pick Purdue’s defensive coaching staff out of a lineup. None of the big fish are going to bite at Purdue’s bait in the high school recruiting pond. They can continue to try and net minnows or they could head over to a new pond stocked with transfers, and try their luck (yes, I’m well aware of the fact that I’ve mixed about 30 different metaphors into the first 500 words of this “article”).

A New Pond

My proposal is simple.

Purdue should give up recruiting the 2022 class on the defensive side of the ball.

Keep Domanick Moon and call it a day.

Instead of spending their time trying to woo mid to low 3* recruits away from G5 teams, they should hold pat, start putting work into the 2023 and 2024 defensive recruiting board, and rely on the transfer portal to fill needs in 2022.

This would give the defensive coaching staff a chance to breath, figure out exactly what they’re looking for in Brad Lambert’s defense and potentially bring in more talented players than they would have otherwise. Much like the defensive coaching hires, they won’t have any say on who is available, but that doesn’t mean the players the become available won’t be better than their other options.

I’ve Written This Article Before For Another Team

I’m not going to lie, I’m recycling this idea from an article I wrote about Clemson basketball a few years ago.

At the time, Brad Brownell couldn’t recruit high school kids well enough for Clemson to compete in the ACC. In many ways, Purdue football and Clemson basketball are similar. They sit in the shadow of other premiere on-campus programs and don’t have much of a history to draw upon.

I give Brownell credit, instead of continuing to recruit high school talent that needed years of development, he decided to flip the script and focus his recruiting efforts on bringing in bounce back 4* (or otherwise established first year players) freshmen and supplemented them with established veteran players from other rosters.

First he brought in 4*, top 100, Vanderbilt bounce back point guard Shelton Mitchell. Then he snagged a 4*, top 50 center from Texas A&M in Elijah Thomas. Then he went to Robert Morris and grabbed elite scoring guard Marcquise Reed after he averaged 15 points a game as a freshman. He went up to Valpo and pulled in versatile defensive stopper David Skara. Finally, he raided Michigan for 3 point shooting Mark Donnal.

Those 5 transfers, along with high school recruits Gabe Devoe and Aamir Simms made up the heart of the Tigers Sweet 16 run in 2017. Brownell couldn’t compete with the North Carolina and Duke’s of the world, so he stopped trying for a few years, and decided to turn Clemson into Transfer U....and it worked.

What’s even more interesting at Clemson is it worked so well, their ability to sign higher tier high school players improved. They still have two key transfers on the roster, but that’s nothing compared to the transfer heavy roster of the last few years. Brad Brownell saved his job by utilizing transfers, and in turn, won enough games to convince 4* high school players to play at Clemson.

Back to Purdue

Football is a different animal. You’re going to need more than 3 core pick ups to turn around your fortunes, but the concept it the same, and in a way, Purdue has already employed it this offseason.

South Carolina defensive line transfer Joseph Anderson is the highest rated defensive recruit in the Brohm era outside of the town of West Lafayette. Auburn transfer O.C. Brothers is Purdue’s highest rated linebacker recruit in the Brohm era outside of the town of West Lafayette. The addition of Anderson and Brothers helped boost an otherwise thin 2021 defensive haul, and both could play a major factor in 2022.

Why not take this idea and expand upon it?

Instead of signing 2 long term transfers and 1 grad transfer for the 2022 class, why not sign 8-10 long term transfers, a few grad transfers, and call it a day?

Purdue has a much better chance at landing 4* defensive talent in the 2022 transfer pool than they have in signing a 4* high school player for the defense in the 2022 class. If Purdue decided to break the mold and focus solely on transfer talent, I think they could clean up.

What Do You Think?

I’ve submitted my proposal, and would like to get some feedback from y’all.

Do you think it is feasible for Purdue, at least in the short term, to only rely on transfers to fill the defensive recruiting class?