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Purdue Football: Drake Carlson Commits!

Purdue adds a versatile defensive lineman to the 2023 recruiting class.

Syndication: The Tennessean Josie Norris / The Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Drake Carlson, a 3*(5.7), 6’4”, 260 pound defensive lineman out of Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Tennessee, verbally committed to Purdue earlier today.

In addition to being a standout on football field, Carlson excels at track and field. He won both the discus and shot put state championship this spring in Tennessee. Carlson is regarded as the 21st best player in Tennessee and the 48th best defensive end in the nation by Rivals. He chose Purdue over offers from Illinois, Memphis, Mississippi State, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia.

What He Brings to Purdue

I love this pick up for the Boilermakers, more outstanding work from Coach Hagan (with an assist to Coach Elson and Coach English). Carlson’s skill set fits perfectly with Purdue’s use of odd man fronts.

Versatility is the key for Purdue’s defensive line, and that’s what Carlson brings to Purdue. He can play defensive end in a 3 man front, or slide inside and play defensive tackle when Purdue brings an edge/linebacker down to the defensive end position. In todays game of high tempo football, you need to adjust your defense on the fly, and Drake brings you value at two defensive line positions.

He uses a quick inside move to beat tackles off the snap from his defensive end position, and that should translate when he moves down a spot to the 3 tech defensive tackle position Purdue utilizes. When he’s on the end, he’s got nice length and uses his hands well. He has good initial power (probably why he is an excellent thrower) and can hold the edge, which is what you want from a defensive lineman in a 3 man front. I don’t see him as a speed rusher off the edge, but Purdue doesn’t particularly need that from both defensive end positions. He’ll hold up the strong side, while the speed guy chases the quarterback from the weak side.

How He Fits In the Defense

I already mentioned fit, but let’s talk a little more about what Purdue is trying to accomplish in their defensive line recruiting.

2022 Recruiting Class

Joe Strickland - 6’4”, 250

JP Deeter - 6’4”, 265

Mariere Omonode - 6’1”, 260

Nic Caraway - 6’3”, 258

Cole Brevard - 6’3, 305 (Transfer)

2023 Recruiting Class

Drake Carlson - 6’4”, 260

It’s not a coincidence that Coach Hagan is focusing on two types of linemen for this defense. Expect to mostly see ends in the 250-270 range, and nose guards like Cole Brevard. He wants and anchor in the middle and two versatile guys on the outside that can hold the edge as a defensive end, or bump down and play defensive tackle.

Last season was a bit of an anomaly because Karlaftis could generate pass rush on his own, without much help. Purdue had a superstar and let him be a superstar. This season I expect more pass rush coming from the linebackers and out of the secondary while the defensive line eats blocks and pushes the pocket into the quarterback. In the run game, the defensive ends will try and keep leverage on the offensive tackles to allow the linebackers to fill inside gaps, or, if moved to defensive tackle, shoot the gaps inside in a 4 man front and try and get into the backfield.

These are all strengths of Carlson, and I suspect Purdue did a solid job of selling his fit into this system, considering his other high profile offers.

Moving Forward

Purdue recruiting tends to pick up in June, and Carlson is a nice start. The Boilermakers didn’t have to wait long for their next defensive commit, because 6’3” defensive back / wide receiver (probably a DB at Purdue) Zion Gunn committed shortly after Carlson.

In terms of defensive line recruiting, 4* Joshua Mickens out of Lawrence Central has Purdue in his top group. He would be an edge rusher / outside linebacker in Purdue’s system. The Boilermakers will have a hard fight to keep him in-instate. Kendrick Gilbert, a 4* defensive lineman out of Cathedral in Indianapolis, is another in-state recruit that fits what Purdue is looking for size wise, at 6’5”, 250. He has visits lined up to Iowa, Kentucky, and LSU this summer, but hopefully the Boilermakers can get him on campus either this summer or early in the season. Micah Carter, a 6’5”, 260 pound end out of Louisville is another player to keep your eye on, but he’s going to be tough to keep away from Kentucky.

I’ll be interested to see if Purdue can parlay 9 wins and a first round defensive lineman into at least one high profile defensive lineman this class. There are a few on the board.