Welcome to the latest installment of our Saturday roundtable. This is where I send out a question to the staff and force them to provide an answer. I think it gives us a great look at different perspectives among the staff. Sometimes we might agree and sometimes we might not but that’s the fun isn’t it? So without further ado let’s get to it.
With football season firmly in the rearview mirror and new head coach Ryan Walters hiring staff and recruiting the portal there’s a lot to do. What should the number one priority of Ryan Walters and the new staff be? Be aware that if you provide me multiple items I will cut you off and only post your first one so be cautious.
I think the obvious choice is to focus on the transfer portal. I know it’s only open for about another week but Purdue has holes to fill if they want to compete next year. Purdue has grabbed a QB and a CB in recent weeks that they hope will plug some needed holes. Keep in mind too that graduate transfers can commit at any time so I’m sure Walters and staff will keep an eye for any available people. Purdue loses a lot heading into next season whether those losses are via transfer portal, graduation, or just attrition. If they want to remain competitive in the Big Ten West they have to find folks to come in and make an immediate impact.
Here’s hoping the staff can sell recruits as well as they’ve sold me. Because I’m all in.
Right now, I think the top priority for Ryan Walters and company should be to aggressively recruit the transfer portal. Ryan Walters has sured up his staff and made it through the initial wave of Purdue guys entering the portal, so now it’s time to fill the gaps created. For example, Purdue will be set at QB next year with the transfer of Hudson Card and the decision of Brady Allen to stay, but who will they throw the ball to? Ryan Walters will be tasked at bringing in receivers from the portal in order to stay competitive this season. This applies to all three phases, so it will still be a grind for the coaching staff. Normal high school recruiting should be put on the back burner for now.
To me the most important aspect may be getting Milton Wright eligible and back into the fold as he can be a playmaking WR in a wide-open offense that can open up the running game for Devin Mockobee and make the new Boiler QB’s life exponentially easier. The Offensive Line proved to be good at giving the QB time to throw and getting Mockobee lanes to run and they should return 4 starters along with having some depth to fill that left guard spot. I personally think you can find quality candidates much easier on the offensive line in the portal as compared to a wide receiver of the caliber of Milton Wright. Purdue sort of lucked into Charlie Jones and Milton Wright has shown some ability to be a number 1 type player at the position.
We got a sense of the kind of receiver he could be against Northwestern where he caught 8 passes for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2022 along with his 6 catches for 100 yards against Illinois in 2020. In his career, Wright has 99 catches for over 1,300 yards and would be a huge boost to a Purdue attack again looking to replace a top end wide receiver heading into a new season. Purdue will return Broc Thompson and Elijah Canion from injury along with some known playmakers in TJ Sheffield, Mershawn Rice, and Tyrone Tracy Jr but even more unknowns in Deion Burks, Abdur Rahman-Yaseen, Collin Sullivan, and Zion Steptoe. Getting a playmaker like Milton Wright eligible and in this offense would make Graham Harrell’s first offense at Purdue a challenging one to defend.
Purdue needs to solidify its roster heading into an offseason before a daunting schedule in 2023. Coach Walters should stay on the hunt in the transfer portal and the prep school ranks. It doesn’t matter what position, most any position, and the Boilermakers need help there. I’m not sure what needs can be met before this portal window closes on January 18 but there should be no stone unturned. The portal opens back up from May 1-15 where they need to hit the ground running.
I’m going to get past these draconian rules and say dudes. Purdue needs dudes, and I don’t care at what position at this point. Adding Hudson Card and Anthony Brown is a great start, but Coach Walers and company need dudes across the board. LSU clearly outduded Purdue at every position. If the Boilermakers are entertaining the idea of moving up in the college football hierarchy, it’s all about dudes my friends.
With the new skipper being a defensive-minded coach and having lost the three key players in last year’s passing game (O’Connell, Jones, Durham), the priority for the first-year head coach: keep the defense on lock while you find your footing with the offense. If Purdue was going to hire someone with no previous head coaching experience, this is a good one for this reason: Purdue was already good at rush defense but mediocre in pass defense, and Walters, a former safety at Colorado, cut his teeth coaching efficient but aggressive secondaries.
In his tenure at Illinois, he presided over a defensive unit that hit hard with the front seven and not only created a lot of fumbles, but had some of the most sure-handed defensive backs I’ve seen in recent memory. Interceptions galore. If you can go forward in a new gig stealing possessions and preventing opposition from exceeding 20 points, your offense can take its time to get things down pat.