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Purdue Football: National Signing Day - High School / Junior College

Signing Day Part II, now with more athletes!

Michigan State v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images


Personally, much like my feelings on the NFL draft, I liked signing day when it was a one day football blowout and not a seemingly bi-monthly event. Regardless of my feelings, Signing Day Part II is happening as I type, and Coach Walters and crew are filling holes that weren’t addressed in the first signing day. I’ll provide (or have all ready provided) more detailed individual analysis over the next week, but I thought I would give y’all the overview first.

Class of 2023 Signings

Tight End

George Burhenn

Purdue failed to land a tight end in the first signing period, and with Payne Durham moving on to the next level, there was need. Burhenn, a 3*, 6’5”, 205 pound tight end out of Mr. Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Indiana fit the bill.

I was surprised when Burhenn didn’t sign with someone in the first signing period. He’s not a last minute “fill a spot” player. 247 Sports considered him the 7th best player in the state of Indiana.

Right now, he’s a big wide receiver. He’ll need to put in work at the dinner table (my favorite type of work) and weight room to transform himself into a college tight end, but the raw athletic material is hard to ignore.

He’ll be the highest rated tight end on the roster next season. That’s a solid late pick-up for tight ends coach Seth Doege to develop.


Arhmad Branch

I’ve already spent a good number of words on Arhmad this week (you can find the article here).

Branch is a composite 3*, 6’1”, 175 pound receiver/defensive back out of Festus High School in Festus, Missouri. He’s relatively new to football, only playing high school ball as a junior and senior, but isn’t new to being an elite athlete. He’s also a basketball/track star that wouldn’t be out of place on a college basketball team.

Coach Walters wants to improve the overall athleticism on the roster, and signing guys like Branch is the way to accomplish this goal. He could play wide receiver, corner, or safety for Purdue. He’s a guy you get into the program now and decide where to play him later.

Derrick Rogers Jr.

Rogers is a 3*, 6’1”, 170 pound athlete out of Jones High School in Orlando, Florida. The former Maryland and U.N.L.V. commit gives the Boilermakers another athlete for the offensive and defensive staff to fight over.

He mainly played receiver in high school, hauling in 48 receptions for 920 yards and 8 touchdowns as senior, but like Arhmad Branch, has the physical traits Coach Walter’s likes in his defensive backs. He’s another player without a set position that raises the overall athleticism of the roster.

Mondrell Dean

Dean is a 3*, 6’3”, 237 pound athlete out of Hurricane High School in Hurricane, West Virginia. He mainly played defensive end in high school, but comes in as an “athlete” for Purdue. Branch and Rogers are classic “athletes” that can either play receiver or defensive back. Dean, on the other hand, is an odd combination of running back/defensive end.

He blew up in 2022 as a defensive end, recording 139 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. His rushing stats were nothing to sneeze at either, running for 617 yards and 16 touchdowns while pulling double duty.

He reminds me a little of former Clemson All-American Vic Beasley. Vic came to Clemson as a running back/tight end/ defensive end and after two seasons of trying to figure out his best position, he settled in a defensive end and end up as an All-American and top 10 draft pick.

Running backs coach Lamar Conrad was his primary recruiter, and I assume he’ll get a look as a change of pace “thunder” back, but I love his athleticism and acceleration at defensive end as well. Much like the other 2 “athletes” Purdue picked up today, the name of the game is speed and athleticism for Coach Walters. Dean brings both of those to the table, it’s now up to the coaching staff to figure out his best fit and coach him up.

Offensive Line

Issiah Walker

I wrote about Walker last here last week. Walker is a 6’4”, 310 pound right tackle originally from Norland High School in Miami coming to Purdue after a circuitous career that has seen him enrolled at 3 different schools (Florida, then Miami, then Butler Community College) before making his way to West Lafayette to play for new offensive line coach Matt Mattox.

Walker is a right tackle. That’s what he played in high school, and that’s what he played at Butler C.C. He’s athletic enough to move to the left side, but prefers the right, and that’s where I anticipate him sticking at Purdue. He’s light on his feet for a big man, and does a good job of hunting down linebackers and defensive backs at the second level. That should serve him well in an offense that asks offensive linemen to get out and lead the way on perimeter runs and screens.

This is redundant, but first and foremost, he’s an upgrade in terms of athleticism for the Purdue offensive line that was mainly asked to form a wall in front of the quarterback and hold on long enough for the quarterback to deliver the ball. I expect a more active and mobile line under Coach Harrell and Mattox, and Walker is an active and mobile right tackle.