Purdue football recruiting: 5 takeaways after Day 1 of the Early Signing Period
Jeff Brohm had grown used to getting a marquee player in his Purdue recruiting classes, from Rondale Moore to David Bell to George Karlaftis to Maliq Carr.
Wednesday, he had to wait until the early evening to see whether his biggest target in 2021 would sign with the Boilermakers. And a little after 5 p.m. ET, linebacker Yanni Karlaftis made it official, releasing a commitment video via Twitter pledging to the Boilermakers.
It’s a big get.
In a class full of 3-stars — 247Sports ranks it No. 83 nationally, 14th in the Big Ten — Karlaftis provides the Boilermakers with a No. 1.
Let’s take a look at the 5 big takeaways from Day 1 of the Early Signing Period.
1. Big announcement
In early August, Karlaftis was within a week of committing but held off, forcing Purdue fans who had anxiously awaited the big announcement to sit even longer.
The payoff came Wednesday evening, when the 4-star linebacker signed with the hometown Boilermakers, joining older brother George on a defense that hopes to make big gains in 2021.
Purdue always seemed a frontrunner for the younger Karlaftis, although it wasn’t a sure thing until Signing Day. Karlaftis, a 6-foot-3, 203-pound outside ‘backer, had flirtations with Michigan early in his recruitment, then Wisconsin and Cal later. But the draw to home, and to playing again with George, a defensive end for the Boilermakers, was too much to overcome.
In committing, he becomes Brohm’s highest-rated signee in 2021, the 15th-best player at his position nationally, per 247Sports, and No. 3 overall in the state of Indiana. Not only that, but he’s at a position of (desperate) need, as Purdue seriously needs playmaking, pass-rushing outside linebackers. He could be a starter from Day 1.
2. O-line packed with prospects
When Marcus Mbow made his Signing Day call on the Boilermakers, it added to an already solid offensive line class.
Mbow, a 3-star and No. 7 overall prospect in Wisconsin, picked the Boilermakers over offers from Kansas, Oregon State and Arizona State, where he had been a commitment previously.
Under Brohm, the Boilermakers have made gradual strides on the line of scrimmage, plugging in graduate transfers to fill gaps while trying to develop through recruiting. The class fits the latter point well, as Mbow joins 3 others: In-state prospects Jaelin Alstott-VanDeVanter, Zach Richards and Mahamane Moussa.
This season, the Boilermakers played 4 freshmen offensive linemen: Gus Hartwig (true freshman), Cam Craig, Kyle Jornigan and Spencer Holstege, a sign that Purdue’s recruiting emphasis is starting to pay off. They hope that continues with the 2021 class.
3. No QB, no matter?
Purdue didn’t snag a quarterback signee in the Class of 2021, but they’re not really sweating the miss.
Dual-threat quarterback Sam Jackson decommitted from the Boilermakers earlier in December, the 2nd school he has reneged on (with Minnesota), and instead signed Wednesday with TCU.
It left Purdue without a QB.
But Brohm feels good about 2022 commitment Brady Allen, a Fort Branch, Ind., 4-star quarterback whom 247Sports ranks as the No. 7 pro-style QB in the class. He might be Purdue’s QB of the future, and with 4 scholarship quarterbacks on the roster — none seniors — the position appears well-stocked, at least in terms of numbers.
One big downside of the Jackson miss: Purdue possibly missed out on in-state 4-star Donaven McCulley, who committed to Indiana in June and then signed Wednesday with the Hoosiers.
Purdue needs linebackers.
The big get was Karlaftis, but perhaps another could rise up to contribute early in his career as well. Tristan Cox, a 3-star inside linebacker, has the size at 6-3, 235 pounds. Purdue got the Somerset, Ky., native out from under the watch of UK and Louisville, along with Cincinnati and others. Brohm’s connection to the state certainly was a big reason why, as was the possibility of playing early.
Middle linebacker Derrick Barnes is likely off to the NFL — the senior, who blossomed at the position this season, could still return for an extra year — leaving the Boilermakers with few other known commodities in the middle of the defense.
5. Transfer heavy
Since Brohm arrived at Purdue 4 years ago, he has hit the transfer market hard, particularly in the secondary and on the offensive line.
Don’t be surprised if Purdue does so again this season, especially with transfer reform turning the market into the Wild Wild West. But the Boilermakers could have major needs that were not fulfilled with this class, such as at running back and in the secondary.