House Divided: How Purdue and Indiana both won the in-state recruiting battle
The phrase “house divided” provides the perfect summary of the 2019 recruiting season for Purdue and Indiana.
Settling on a tie, in any sport or in any capacity, for the two in-state rivals is never really an option. But this time, the two sides might be able to come to an agreement, primarily because both the Boilermakers and the Hoosiers are benefitting.
When the 2019 recruiting period came to an end last Wednesday, Purdue and Indiana had signed the top five prospects in the state — Jeff Brohm landed commitments from the top two players and Tom Allen secured signatures from the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 recruits from within state borders.
- George Karlaftis, 4-star DE — Purdue
- David Bell, 4-star WR — Purdue
- Sampson James, 4-star RB — Indiana
- Beau Robbins, 4-star DE — Indiana
- Cameron Williams, 4-star LB — Indiana
Hey, here’s a question for you: when was the last time all of the top five players from the state of Indiana signed with either Purdue or IU? Stymied?
That’s because it’s never happened. Well, at least not since 2002, when 247Sports began keeping track of state rankings on a more in-depth basis. The one time it came close to happening was 2005, when Joe Tiller brought seven of the top eight in-state players to West Lafayette.
So yeah, a little bit of history was made during this recruiting period. Good history.
More importantly, the 2019 recruiting class symbolized the end of an ugly era for both programs. Commitments from Isaac James (2015) and Coy Cronk (2016) to Indiana are the only times a top five in-state player signed with either school from 2014-18. And the last time both inked a top five in-state recruit in the same class was 2013, when the Boilermakers landed four-star QB Danny Etling and the Hoosiers signed four-star OT Darius Latham.
To put it mildly, other programs from the B1G, ACC and SEC were ransacking the state and stealing its top prospects without resistance. Purdue and Indiana were standing in a corner empty-handed, watching it all happen.
Three recruiting classes in, Brohm and Allen have already changed that. They’re working together to rope off and enclose the state boundary, then battling each other for the prized targets inside the ring. That strategy appears to be panning out well for both coaches.
Purdue and Indiana aren’t going to challenge the traditional bluebloods on the recruiting trail, at least not on a regular basis. But the two schools can keep the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa from poaching some of the top talent within the state. Keeping a majority of those top five prospects at home each year is an attainable goal that each coach is striving to reach.
Brohm and Allen are establishing a presence in their home state. That’s a really good thing for the direction of both programs.
Even if the end result is a “house divided” on the recruiting front.