After focusing on improving the defense in the last few classes, Danny Hope flipped the script and brought in a host of offensive prospects this year, several of whom look like they could contribute immediately. When you look at it, this class is endemic of what Hope has recruited while at Purdue; classes with one stud and a lot of...well...projects and depth.
After watching various quarterbacks stumble through the schedule Purdue played last year, Hope did a nice job of...bringing in more bodies to muck up the picture under center. OH QB Austin Appleby is probably the best of the bunch. The Hoover product was one of the many subjects of Trent Dilfer's Elite 11 camp (and show) during the past summer. Although Appleby struggled on the first day, he came back and impressed Dilfer with his maturity and dedication, as well as his smarts. Appleby is a kid that, at one time, looked like he could be close to a Michigan offer, but ended up picking the Boilermaker over a host of MAC and mediocre BCS teams.
Appleby was complemented by a trio of dual-threat QBs that may end up switching to WR. FL QB Bilal Marshall is a long-strider with a pretty good arm to boot. Of the two, the other being IN ATH Aloyis Gray, the former Kansas commit Marshall (snake-oiled away by Hope, no doubt) seems to be the more likely to stick with the QB position. Gray is the next in line of the touted guys that Pike (IN) High School has been pumping out in the past few years. Gray has some experience playing both out wide and under center from his high school days. The biggest knock on Gray seems to be his hips, which look pretty stiff. Purdue topped off its class with the late addition of former Arkansas commit Robert Gregory, who attended the same high school (Chicago Simeon) as OT Jordan Diamond. Gregory has a decent arm, but impressed me with his improvement from year to year. I think Gregory's worth keeping at QB to develop.
Purdue also snatched a WR from the heart of Maize and Blue territory, the new Skyline High School program in Ann Arbor. Jordan Woods showed up big-time at a few camps, but never seemed to receive genuine interest from Michigan. He ended up committing to Purdue over Eastern Michigan. Maybe the frame-rate was off on my computer, but the highlights of IN WR Danny Anthrop look like they're sped up. I have no doubt that the multi-dimensional weapon has blazing speed, but something seems amiss. In any case, Anthrop doesn't look like the most polished of WRs, but his speed should be an asset for the Boilermakers. FL WR/ATH B.J. Knauf is slippery, but doesn't appear to be overly explosive or sudden. Fellow FL WR Cameron Posey has a bit more size than Knauf, but looks to be nothing more than..well..adequate.
In a move that I have trouble understanding, the Boilermakers signed 4 tight ends to the roster, in February. I suppose the move is made easier in that only 2 of the players will be coming out of high school, but it's still odd for a school to stack up so heavily on one position. In any case, AL TE Jonathan Curry was a national recruit, sporting offers from Arkansas, Louisville, Stanford, and Nebraska, among others. Curry looks like an excellent athlete (although that could change once he starts bulking up), and a tenacious blocker, although I think he too often relies on the initial blow. NJ TE Ryan Morris also claimed offers from Louisville, South Carolina, and a couple of other Big Ten schools, before committing. Morris is far less athletic than Curry, but closer to his playing weight (about 250), so he could contribute early. FL TE Carlos Carvajal is a post grad transfer from Florida. Carvajal is a decent receiving threat who gets off the ball well, but I think his upside is a bit limited. According to Scout, CA JUCO TE Greg Latta was recruited as a blocking TE, although partner network Hammer & Rails has him pegged as a defensive end. The telling part of that story-Latta didn't even play football in high school, so he's still very raw as a prospect.
On the offensive line, the Boilermakers seemed to vie for quantity over quality. There's a reason that the best in-state offer for TX OL J.J. Prince and TX OL Cameron Cermin came from SMU-both seem like serviceable back-ups, at best. The prize along the line may have been AZ JUCO OT Devin Smith, a mauling blocker who actually hails from Pioneer HS in Ann Arbor, before going to Arizona Western. The Boilermakers filled out the interior of the O-Line with three kids from the South (Kentucky-maybe South). TX OL Jordan Roos has the size, but hops around while playing. He also flashes poor leverage and technique while blocking. I couldn't find any film on AR OL Jason King, but apparently he can squat 500 pounds, so he's got that going for him. Purdue jumped in late to grab KY OL Joe Warburg, who plays at the same high school as '13 recruits James Quick, Jason Hatcher, and Ryan White. He's small, but could make an impact if/when he fills out his frame.
As I mentioned above, this class went very light on defensive prospects, but did grab the blue chipper of the group in MD DL Ryan Watson. A lot of Michigan fans may remember Watson, as he was the Good Counsel teammate of Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown that talked Michigan up a bit, but largely seemed disinterested. Watson can tend to be a bit slow off the ball, but his athleticism and angry use of his hands allows him to be a potent pass-rushing threat. I'd be willing to bet my house that he saw his fair share of Kawann Short during his visit to West Lafayette. Watson also sported offers from (at one time) Michigan, Michigan State, UVA, Stanford, and Penn State, among others. I'm also a pretty big fan of TX DE Kingsley Ike. He needs to add some major strength to his body, but is a lightning fast pass rusher, off the edge.
Purdue landed two linebackers in the class, both of whom have major question marks about their size. IN LB Jimmy Herman is 6'4, but sub-200 pounds. To me, it seems like you can always easily pick out a successful linebacker on tape-they're easy to spot. Something about Herman doesn't really click with me; I have real trouble envisioning him as anything but a safety. Anyway, FL LB Andy Garcia held a couple of SEC offers like Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but was held away from the big boys because of his 5'11 stature. Garcia is more physical than Herman, but will also need to add weight, as he's listed around 210 at the moment. According to our old friends at Hammer and Rails again, Garcia had an eye-popping 38 TFL total in his junior season.
Hope finished off his class by plucking two DBs away from a host of mid-majors. IN S Jordan Shine comes from a highly scouted Warren Central program in Indiana, yet only managed offers from Purdue and Western Michigan. FL CB Anthony Brown is smooth in his coverage, but I don't see the closing speed or physicality necessary to become an elite corner. Purdue added two specialists from the mid-Atlantic in NC K Paul Griggs, who could see early playing time, and VA K Thomas Meadows, who is less highly touted, although my nephew knows him!