Ryan Walters and Kevin Kane need a nose guard to make their defense work. It’s a tough position to recruit, however the prior staff ran a 3 man front as well. They also needed a nose guard to make the defense work. Subsequently, there were several options waiting on the roster.
This position group has the option to put a space eater like Brevard on the field for run downs, or a quicker nose like Lewis or Omonode on the field on passing downs. I expect this staff to better utilize the bench, and use more situational substitutions.
In the run game, shutting down the A gap is crucial for this defense. Putting 5 men at the line makes it vulnerable against run straight up the gut. Brevard and company need to keep the keep the center of the line locked down and force the opponent to run wide, and into the strength of the defense. They are well prepared for the task.
At worst, nose tackle will be functional this year, but Brevard has a chance to establish himself as one of the best nose tackles in the Big10. If you don’t see any runs coming up the gut, you know he’s doing his job.
Cole Brevard - #91 - R-Jr. - 6’3”, 315
I was bummed when Cole didn’t give the Boilers much of a look coming out of high school. The composite 4* Carmel High School product has the ideal build for a nose tackle, and those guys don’t come around often. He sat the bench for two seasons in Happy Valley before transferring back home in 2022. Last season he appeared in all 14 games, recording 10 tackles.
This season should be his break out year. Instead of eating double teams all game, Purdue’s new 5 man front will give him the opportunity to get into the backfield and attack. Physically, he’s got all the tools, now is the time for him to put it together in the middle of the Boilermaker defensive line.
By all accounts, he’s had a solid camp, and I expect him to start and anchor the defensive line. The good news is he’ll have plenty of help. Purdue is strangely well stocked at nose guard. This should allow Brevard to go hard, take a break, juice back up, and come back fresh. I feel bad for the opposing center.
Next Man Up
Damarjhe Lewis - #34 - R-Jr. - 6’3”, 295
Lewis, another Big10 transfer, this time from Indiana, was set to play, at minimum, an important role off the bench last season. Instead, he broke his ankle in spring camp and missed the season. He’s close to full health, and like Brevard, should benefit from the new scheme. In fact, Lewis may benefit the most as a quicker nose capable of shooting gaps. I expect to see him on the field in pass rush situations. Brevard may be the nominal starter, but Lewis won’t lack for playing time if his leg is close to 100%.
Mo Omonode - #92 - So. - 6’0”, 290
Depending on Lewis’s health, Mo could be the next man up at nose guard. Like Lewis, he’s quicker than a traditional nose. That should help him shoot gaps and get into the backfield against 1 on 1 blocking. He played well as a true freshman and is probably the best athlete out of the 3 nose tackles. Like Lewis, he’s an option on a pass rush down.
Jamarrion “Chops”” Harkless - #97 - 6’3”, 315
Harkless was literally and figuratively a huge pick up in the last recruiting class. Chops, like Brevard, is a space eater in the middle, and will eventually be a nightmare for the opposing center. If Brevard stays healthy, I expect him to Chops to redshirt, but if anything happens to Cole, Harkless could step up and help fill the void as the run stuffing mountain in the middle.