If it’s Saturday, even during a coronation and the Kentucky Derby, it must be the roundtable. The day when every staff member gets to answer a question of my choosing.
With the transfer portal now “technically” closed, though people are still coming in, which position group for Purdue football do you think benefited the most?
I’d love to get smart with this, break it down in great detail, and really have you feel like you gained some much needed insight into this football team heading into next season. I’d love to do that, but I won’t. I won’t do that because to me the answer is obvious. It’s the QB position. Heading into this season Purdue lost AOC to the draft and honestly what did we have on the roster? A bunch of folks who have taken only a handful of college snaps and had thrown even fewer passes. QB is just such an incredibly important position that an upgrade there can mean so much. Ryan Walters went out and got an incredible player in Hudson Card who will make a difference on this offense and therefore on this team. There’s no question in my mind that he’s the most impactful offseason signing.
I’m going to cheat a little. Editor’s Note: I’ll allow it.
Quarterback - Quarterback is the most important position in sports, and Purdue didn’t have one suited to running his style of quick decision making offense. Enter Hudson Card, the former Texas quarterback, in terms of potential, is the best Purdue option since.....Kyle Orton maybe? The cradle of quarterbacks hasn’t had much top level talent since Cowboy Joe was at the helm. There have been good quarterbacks (Painter, Elliot, Marve, Etling Sindelar, Blough, O’Connell) but in terms of pro potential, Card is a cut above in terms of pedigree. The 4*, top 100 quarterback showed some of his skills during his stint in Austin, but this offense is a better fit. If you’ve got a quarterback, you’ve got a chance, and Purdue has a quarterback thanks to the portal.
Defensive Line - The defense is moving to a bigger front 3 featuring a nose and 2 defensive tackle sized defensive ends. To facilitate that change, Coach Kane hit the portal hard. 6’5, 300 pound Jeffrey M’Ba was the top rated JuCo player in the 2022 class. He signed with Auburn after also visiting Miami and Tennessee, but jumped back into the portal after the coaching change at Auburn and Purdue scooped him up. I expect to see him at one of the end positions. Former 4* Malik Langham originally signed with Florida in the 2018 class after official visits to Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt. He transferred to Vandy after the 2019 season and after sitting out because of the old transfer rules (remember those) appeared in every Vandy game since. He hasn’t put up big numbers, but the experience 6’5”, 310 pound 6th year senior is custom made to play end in a 3-4 alignment. Finally, Isaiah Nichols complete the SEC trifecta, the 6’3, 315 1/2 man, half fire hydrant, can either play on the edge or at the nose and brings 49 games of experience, including 23 starts to the line. In terms of talent, this is an upgrade from what Purdue put on the field last season. I expect Purdue to start 3 former transfers at defensive line next season, and I expect the top 2 rotational pieces to also be transfers, if that gives you any indication of how well high school defensive tackle recruiting went over the last few seasons.
Purdue has added 13 transfers I believe this off-season but we’ve also had a lot of players leave. I think where we benefited the most is the cornerback position. We really struggled with our past defense last season and allowed way too many 3rd and long conversions. With the addition of guys like Braxton Myers and Muhammad hopefully they can help contain some of these receivers better. Myers who originally committed to Ole Miss is 4 star recruit and one of the highest rated players the Boilers have landed. Muhammad spent 3 seasons at Stanford prior to his commitment at Purdue and has two years of eligibility remaining. We face a gauntlet of a schedule next season and with a new head coach and several new faces I think we are all anxious to see how it all plays out.
It’ll hard pressed to say anything other than QB with how big of a signing Hudson Card was for Purdue. Card is a legitimate B1G QB who could start for most other B1G programs and that’s the recipe for success at Purdue.
I could have said DB with some of the great additions there, especially with Jaheim Merriweather leaving Ole Miss for Purdue but QB has been the make or break for the Boilers.
Because the two transfers in the defensive back field are at different positions, I will go with the wide receiver group. Bringing in Corey Gammage from Marshall and Jahmal Edrine from FAU will bring much needed depth and energy to a group with a lot of question marks going into the season. Hudson Card will have more guys toss it to and that’s never a bad thing.
I’m not going to try to be too cute here. In football, the buck stops with the quarterback, and it seems like coach Walters is willing to go all-in with his new cards. Get it?
If nothing else, no position group is going to be depending on transfers as much as QB. Heck, our whole season is practically dependent on Hudson Card’s production in Graham Harrell’s offense. Whether the quarterback position actually benefited from the arrival of Hudson Card will be a lot more evident in December, but for now all we can do is let the chips fall where they may (more poker puns).
After back-to-back winning conference seasons for the first time since ‘97-’98, expectations have never been higher for Purdue football in my lifetime. The pressure is going to be immense on Ryan Walters to build on the program he is taking over, and it’s all going to fall on the shoulders of a transfer quarterback. It’s going to be fun to watch and see whether the Ross-Ade renovations hold up or whether the House of Card comes crashing down. Okay, no more puns, I promise.
I’m going to go with the defensive line.
Adding two experienced DL’s with a lot of snaps as run gap stuffers in a run-heavy conference transferring to a different run-heavy conference should provide some much needed acumen in the trenches for Purdue following a lot of transfer portal turnover. That’s to be expected when a head coach takes another job.
Specifically, the additions of former Auburn Tiger Jeffrey M’Ba and former Vanderbilt Commodore Malik Langham bring two guys who played in all of their former teams’ games in 2022, both used primarily as gap fillers to allow edge rushers and middle linebackers to take care of who might be toting the rock.
Both are large, physically adept dudes who began playing football later than most, so I trust a new defensive-minded head coach as to who he brings into the program.