Joey Tanona, a former 4-star offensive lineman out of Zionsville High School and Notre Dame transfer, jumped out of the portal and onto the Purdue roster last Friday.
Tanona is returning from medical retirement. In the winter of 2022 he was involved in a major car accident on the way to an early morning workout at Notre Dame. He was recently cleared to return to football after missing the last two seasons dealing with the after effects of a major concussion.
Tonona never played in a game for the Fighting Irish and will have four years of eligibility remaining.
What This Means For Purdue on the Field
Purdue gets a 4-star offensive lineman with 4 years of eligibility and he’s already used his transfer. That’s about as good as it gets in terms of portal offensive linemen. Coming out of high school the 6’5”, 295 pound lineman was considered either a guard or right tackle, and I assume that remains true.
I like him at guard for the Boilermakers. He was also a talented thrower (shot and discuss) in high school and that sort of quick power is an asset for a guard. I think he’s an average athlete at tackle but an above average athlete at guard, and I like being more athletic across the line.
The question, of course, is what Tanona looks like after missing the last two seasons while recovering from a brain injury. I assume the coaching staff will bring him along slowly at first, and the focus will be getting him back into football shape. I have no idea if he’ll be ready to go this season, or if he’ll need a season to reorient himself to football.
Either way, if he returns at full strength, this is a major victory for Ryan Walters, Graham Harrell and Marcus Johnson. You don’t often have a player as talented as Tanona fall into your lap.
What This Means For Purdue in Recruiting
I consider this found money. I don’t think it changes anything in terms of offensive line portal transfers. Purdue still needs starters (yes, I’m aware that there have been some developments on this front) and it's impossible to know when Tanona will be ready to go.
One thing this addition does is improve depth down the line. Tanona has four years of eligibility left, and will probably spend at least three of those years as a Boilermaker. Having a guy that should be around for a while is important in today’s college football landscape.