Purdue has had a pretty good run at the linebacker position of late. We’ve seen guys like Markus Bailey, Derrick Barnes, and Ja’Whuan Bentley among others find their way into the NFL. While we haven’t seen how the new Ryan Walters/Kevin Kane defense will run we know that Purdue has talent at the linebacker position that this duo will look to exploit.
O.C. Brothers - 6’2” 225 - Redshirt senior
Brothers really came on last season for Purdue. Brothers played a career high 561 snaps last year. He will be asked to continue to carry the load this season. In his career he has 54 tackles, 1 sack, and 4 passes deflected. I would imagine he has a good shot to match all of those numbers this season. Brothers will anchor one of the inside linebacker spots.
Yanni Karlaftis - 6’3” 230 - Redshirt Sophomore
The brother of Super Bowl champion Big George Karlaftis will be looking to make his mark as a Boilermaker this season likely as Brothers’ backup. Karlaftis appeared in 9 games last year totaling 4 tackles. This season marks a great opportunity for the local product as he will be given an opportunity in the new Kevin Kane defense. He’s not the same type of player as his brother and this season should give him the opportunity to show that.
Nic Caraway - 6’3 240 - Redshirt Sophomore
Big things are expected out of the redshirt sophomore. Fun fact, his full first name is Nictiedric. Caraway is penciled in at one of the two outside linebacker spots. He was a big name recruit coming out of high school in Texas and should bring Purdue’s linebackers a much needed mix of speed and physicality.
Jacob Wahlberg - 6’4” 235 - Redshirt Senior
Wahlberg is widely believed to be the second starter at the inside linebacker position. He’s a fifth year senior so he’s got an advantage there, though that advantage is muted somewhat due to the changing change. Wahlberg played in 14 games last year and had 28 solo tackles. He’s got two career interceptions. He’s been named to the Academic All Big Ten Academic team multiple times. Let’s hope he can put those smarts to use and learn an all new defensive scheme.
Clyde Washington - 6’3” 235 - Senior
Washington likely slots him directly behind Wahlberg on the inside. Last season Washington played in 9 games and 10 solo tackles with 4 assists for a total of 14 on the year. It was his most productive season despite playing in four fewer games than in the 2021 season. He brings experience off the bench and that’s somehow Purdue has often struggled with recently.
Kyrdran Jenkins - 6’1” 270 - Redshirt Junior
The Georgia native appeared in all 14 games last year for the Boilermakers and acquitted himself well. He had 24 tackles including 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and forced one fumble. Jenkins is likely to start on the outside with Caraway.
Khordae Sydnor - 6’4” 265 - Redshirt Sophomore
Sydnor should add to an OLB position that should be a strength of this unit. The three star recruit saw his first action as a Boilermaker last year and appeared in all 14 games. He notched 17 tackles including an impressive 6.5 tackles for loss with 4.5 sacks. He has shown great talent and ability to get in the backfield. You can never have too many players like this on your roster. Sydnor will likely backup Jenkins.
Scotty Humpich - 6’4” 255 - 6th Year Senior
Humpich was previously at Murray State before coming to Purdue last year. He played in 13 games last year and was the only player to get a sack during Purdue’s heartbreaking loss to Penn State. Humpich has the confidence you need in this position but will need to show more production if he hopes to make an impact in his last year on the squad.
Will Heldt - 6’6” 235 - Freshman
The young man out of Carmel, Indiana was an early enrollee who completed spring practice before he even went to prom. In fact, he used the spotlight at Purdue for his promposal and he got a yes. Big things are expected of this young man but acclimating to the college game, especially at a physical position like linebacker can be a challenge.
There are additional LBs on the team of course and apologies to those that we didn’t mention but this is the group largely expected to make a difference on the field this season.