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Tapping the Portal: Veterans Needed for Walters First Season

There isn’t much proven veteran presence for Walters’ first season so tapping the portal will be incredibly important

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Throughout the Jeff Brohm era, Purdue tended to surround itself with some big names on both sides of the ball with players like Rondale Moore, David Bell, George Karlaftis, and Aidan O’Connell leading the Boilers to return to the heights known almost twenty years ago under legendary head coach Joe Tiller. The issue is that focus tended to leave Purdue with some gaping weaknesses that needed to be covered up and in Head Coach Ryan Walters’ first season with Purdue, that gaping weaknesses has become completely evident.

Looking at Purdue’s possible two deeps coming out of spring football, Purdue has very little upperclassmen leaders that provide the kind of players you need to win games and be successful in the B1G. On the offensive side of the ball, Purdue’s best players who aren’t transfers are both RS sophomores in Devin Mockobee and OG Marcus Mbow. On the defensive side, RS sophomore Khordae Sydnor and OLB Nic Caraway lead the way as underclassmen with some upperclassmen in safeties Cam Allen and Sanoussi Kane. The fact is, Purdue just doesn’t have the playmakers and leaders in the upperclassmen that you need this season. The great equalizer for that issue that would have hamstrung a previous staff in their rebuilding effort is the transfer portal.

Walters comes from firsthand experience of this type of rebuild under Illinois Head Coach Brett Bielema who, when he arrived at Illinois, experienced a lot of turnover of a roster that was just unsuccessful under the previous staff. In fact, in one 24 hour period, Bielema and the Illini saw six players enter the portal back in late June of 2021. In fact, Bielema and Walters (the Illini defensive coordinator at that time) saw twenty one players leave the program from November 2nd, 2021 to July 30th, 2022.

It should come as no surprise in today’s college football environment of players chasing bigger NIL paydays and having more free-will to transfer with the portal that twenty one players decided to find a better situation for themselves but it is quite odd that Purdue hasn’t seen a greater number of players leaving up to this point. However, one can expect that to change in the coming weeks as Purdue is in on a number of important transfers and have already added multiple big names to their roster with players like QB Hudson Card (Texas), S Anthony Brown (Arkansas), OL Jalen Grant (BGSU), OL Salim Turner-Muhammed (Stanford), CB Marquis Wilson (Penn State).

Purdue has seen their fair-share of players jumping into the portal as well but maybe not as many as expected prior to the start of the spring semester. So far, Purdue has seen 12 scholarship athletes enter the portal: DL Greg Hudgins (Charlotte), DL Branson Deen (Univ. of Miami), DL Jack Sullivan (USC), DL Lawrence Johnson (Auburn), OL Spencer Holstege (UCLA), TE Charlie Kenrich (Undecided), RB King Doerue (Undecided), QB Michael Alaimo (Undecided), QB Brady Allen (Undecided), CB Jah’Von Grigsby (Undecided), RB Kobe Lewis (FAU), and OL Eric Miller (Undecided). That number is likely to grow into the twenties in the coming weeks and Purdue will continue to look to the portal to rebuild the roster as quickly as possible.

In an interview after one of the early spring football practices, Walters gave a very candid interview about where the defense was at in his first chances to see them. In it, he clearly vocalized some frustration and that he will be looking to give it a completely new look via the portal by stating: “You know, we are still banged up, need to get some guys healthy, um, our roster will look a whole lot different come fall.”

The players that Walters is bringing in with his new staff are players that will make an immediate impact, but Purdue still sorely lacks a lot of elite upper-class leadership. There will need to be some younger players like Caraway and Sydnor to make big strides on defense along with Mbow, Mockobee, and Deion Burks on offense, if Purdue wants to make a bowl game in year 1 under Walters. More importantly, the highly rated recruits that still remain from Brohm’s tenure need to start playing up to that potential and staying healthy to get there.

Key Returning Contributors for Purdue:

OL Marcus Mbow
TE Garrett Miller (injured)
RB Devin Mockobee
WR Deion Burks
WR Abdur Rahmaan-Yaseen
WR Collin Sullivan
OL Gus Gartwig (injured)

DL Cole Brevard
DL Sulaiman Kpaka
OLB Nic Caraway
OLB Khordae Sydnor
ILB O.C. Brothers
S: Sanoussi Kane
S: Cam Allen

Key Portal Additions for Purdue:

QB Hudson Card (Texas)
OL Jalen Grant (BGSU)
WR Jamel Edrine (FAU)
OL Ben Farrell
OL Isaiah Walker

CB Salim-Turner Muhammed
LB Malik Langham
DL Isaiah Nichols
S Anthony Brown
CB Marquis Wilson
DL Jeffrey M’ba

Portal Transfers:

QB Michael Alaimo
QB Brady Allen
RB King Doerue
TE Kyle Bilodeau
OL Spencer Holstege
RB Kobe Lewis
TE Charlie Kenrich
OT Eric Miller

DL Greg Hudgins
DL Branson Deen
DL Lawrence Johnson
DL Jack Sullivan
CB Rickey Smith
CB Jah’Von Grigsby
K Chris Van Eekeren

*NOTE: These lists may not be all inclusive of players who have committed or declared their intention to transfer.