In today’s online social media age of hyperbolic takes and hiding behind a keyboard for extreme sports takes, hearing that a quarterback at Purdue might be the best at the position since Drew Brees might make some fans take a step back. This is a program that, since Brees left for the NFL in 2001, has had Kyle Orton (2005), Curtis Painter (2009), David Blough (2018), and Aidan O’Connell (2023) all head to the NFL and start (AOC pending). These were all players who were deserving of their places in the ‘Cradle of Quarterbacks’ that Purdue holds so highly in their football history. Could Hudson Card be the next in line?
According to 247 Sports, Hudson Card was the 70th rated player overall in the country in the 2020 class while Rivals had him at 108 and ESPN placed him 40th. He is a big time prospect who had big time stats in the football talent rich state of Texas but seemed to get a tough deck stacked against him after he enrolled at Texas. He endured a coaching change and the shifting landscape of NIL deals that saw his playing time diminish, but last year he did show he was a very good quarterback subbing for the injured Quinn Ewers last season completing 70% of his passes (75-108) for 928 yards (12.38 yards per completion) with six touchdowns and 1 interception.
Historically, Purdue doesn’t get this level of recruit for the football program and when they have, let’s just say it hasn’t been a glowing record of success. Just four other recruits would be ranked higher than Card was in 2020 coming out of high school: Selwyn Lymon, Doug Van Dyke (failed to qualify), Kyle Williams, and Kyle Orton. The next six? David Bell, J.B. Paxson (transferred to WKU), Brady Allen (transferred to Louisville), Maliq Carr (transferred to Michigan State), Ryan Watson, and Brian Ellis (failed to qualify). Three transfers, two failed to even qualify academically, one was shot in the eye with a paintball gun by teammates and then stabbed in the chest, and one is currently serving time behind bars (that got off the rails real quick, didn’t it?).
But, Card has the tools and the ability to shape himself into one of Purdue’s best quarterbacks over the next two or three seasons (he will have a Covid season to determine in 2025). This is a former high school player with offers from Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Ole Miss, Penn State, TCU, Tennessee, and Arkansas who was largely considered the best dual threat quarterback in his class. In fact, that dual threat ability along with an up-tempo offense is what attracted Card to Purdue under first year Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell.
That dual threat ability from the position and his ability to play in big time environments was showcased when Card was thrust into the starting role at the end of the first quarter against Alabama. Card eventually went 14-22 for 158 yards passing but was often forced from the pocket to make difficult throws. Card was also hobbled with an injury of his own to his leg which limited his mobility but led the Longhorns to a near win against the Crimson Tide. Texas would lose the game 20-19 on a 33 yard field goal with 10 seconds left after Card led the Longhorns on a drive of his own for a field goal with just 1:29 left to take a 19-17 lead.
Card told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg in an interview after his commitment to Purdue from the transfer portal, “If I’m looking for an offense, it’s something like Coach Harrell’s... It’s up-tempo, we throw the rock a lot, but it also gives me the ability to use my legs when I need to. All in all, it will bring out the best in my game. Sometimes coaches don’t always allow that or will scheme it up differently. In my college career, I haven’t been able to fully show my capabilities. I was just looking for a place where I could do that and continue to grow my confidence. A place where I can play freely.”
Being able to play freely will be key for Purdue’s offensive success and traditionally that has led to big numbers from the quarterback position. In fact, Purdue owns 10 of the 23 (6 of the top 10 as well) best single season yards passing since 1956 while the next closest is Ohio State with just 4. Those 10 seasons have come under three different head coaches as well (Joe Tiller, Jeff Brohm, and Leon Burnett). What Purdue fans haven’t really experienced is the ability of a quarterback who is a threat in the running game to keep the defense on their heels. Yes, I know Justin Siller and Brandon Kirsch were both starting quarterbacks but those two players were not great passers whereas Card is a very good passer.
In Harrell’s offense at West Virginia in 2022, J.T. Daniels was not a very skilled runner and Harrell kept him in the pocket but he did have Garrett Greene who attempted 45 rushes for 276 yards. Under the direction of Harrell in his ‘Air Raid’ offense, Card provides both the passing ability of a player like J.T. Daniels and the running ability of Garrett Greene. That type of player should help open the offensive playbook for a coordinator of the likes of Graham Harrell and with that should come yards upon yards in the passing and running game for Card.
Purdue has only had one quarterback throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a single season. That was Drew Brees in 2000 when he threw for 3,668 yards and rushed for 521 yards, which happened to find Brees finishing 3rd overall in the Heisman Trophy, winning the Maxwell Award (Nation’s Most Outstanding Player, and the B1G Offensive Player of the Year. Card has that type of talent and athleticism and he could conceivably be at Purdue for three full seasons. If he can throw for 9,000 yards and rush for over 1,500 yards in those three seasons, I think it would be safe to say he would be very well deserving of a spot in the Cradle of Quarterbacks.