The Purdue coaching staff received the signing day news they were hoping for when Leland Smith, a 6’5”, 205 pound, 3*(88) wide receiver out of Fullerton College (JuCo) by way of Houston, Texas. The Boilermakers fought hard to land the coveted outside receiver. In the end, the Boilermakers prevailed over Mississippi State (the other school he visited).
Originally signing with TCU out of high school, Smith left Ft. Worth after his freshman season and enrolled in Fullerton College (Cali). Last season at Fullerton he put up ridiculous numbers, hauling in 24 catches for 634 yards and 9 touchdowns over 9 games. That’s a crazy catch to touchdown ratio. When Leland caught the ball, the end zone was often the only thing that stopped him.
He will have 4 seasons to play 3 in West Lafayette.
What Does Leland Smith Bring to the Table
We were talking about Purdue not having go-up-and-get it sideline receivers and this guy is exactly that, tacks down balls over his shoulders well on both sides of the field, has the footwork and acceleration to get quick separation outside the zone of legal contact, still can run routes over the middle.
Hip turns are good in contested balls in the chance of a slightly under-thrown deep ball and will always have the length advantage in that situation as well. Long strides, solid top-end speed, needs a quarterback with a cannon, Card can throw the deep ball. Three years of eligibility remaining.
I agree with Garrett on this one, Smith is the Frisbee catching dog this offense desperately needs to push back the safeties and open up the underneath and middle of the field. Having someone this big and fast run a go route changes the offense, even if Purdue doesn’t throw him the ball.
I look for the Boilermakers to field a significantly more physical receiving group this season and can see Smith stepping into a starting role sooner, rather than later, depending on how quickly he picks up the offense and builds a rapport with Hudson Card. Purdue could go from having an undersized receiver group to having multiple options in the 6’3”, 200ish pound range.