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Purdue makes in-state football recruiting push

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For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Hazell emphasizes tough, smart approach

Friday, May 3, 2013 - 3:51 am

Darrell Hazell isn't messing around with this in-state football recruiting stuff.

Purdue's new coach has made recruiting the state of Indiana a priority and he's already offered two of the state's best, including one with a familiar Boiler pedigree:

Glenn Robinson.

Robinson's older son, Glenn Jr., is playing basketball at Michigan. Another son, Gelen, a junior defensive end at Lake Central High School in northwestern Indiana, is one of the state's best three-sport athletes.

The 6-1, 230-pound Robinson is rated as the nation's No. 16 defensive end in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service. He won the 220-pound state wrestling championship in February with a 53-0 record, and looks to make an impact in track this spring.

Robinson also has offers from Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Ball State.

The Boilers also have targeted Gary West Side's Lonnie Johnson, a four-star receiver/defensive back rated as the nation's No. 36 athlete in the Class of 2014. Indiana, Ohio State and Cincinnati are among the schools to have offered this 6-3, 180 pounder. Last season he totaled more than 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns on offense, 32 tackles and four interceptions on defense.

Purdue also is taking a long look at another northwestern Indiana player in East Chicago Central's Martayveus Carter, a versatile athlete who plays receiver, running back, linebacker and punter.

In keeping with Hazell's Midwest emphasis, the Boilers have offered one of Ohio's best linebackers in 6-foot, 216-pound Airius Moore of Beavercreek. He's rated as the No. 25 inside linebacker.

Former Purdue coach Danny Hope recruited the Southeast hard for speed, which sounded good in theory, but in practicality burned some in-state recruiting bridges, although he was instrumental in getting the state of Indiana's top quarterback in 2013, Danny Etling from Terre Haute. That partially explained the decline in fan interest and attendance.

The main reason, of course, was that the Boilers have had losing records in four of the last five years.

Hazell isn't abandoning the Southern recruiting approach. Purdue has offered Florida defensive end/linebacker Trent Harris, who also has offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Georgia. The 6-2, 225-pound is rated as the nation's No. 17 strong side defensive end. He recorded 11 sacks last season.

The Boilers also have offered Tennessee's Josh Malone, rated as the nation's No. 7 receiver and No. 72 player overall. Again, the recruiting competition is formidable with such powerhouses as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and Florida in the mix.

As far as returning players, Hazell spent the spring stressing that the Boilers had to become tougher and smarter, limit turnovers and improve special teams play. He wants better wide receiver play, because if the Boilers are going to throw effectively, it will take more than just accurate quarterbacks.

Purdue needs guys who can make tough catches and make big plays, with Dolapo Macarthy showing lots of spring potential.

Could that include O.J. Ross, who was suspended for the spring?

It's too early to say.

Hazell doesn't care about age and experience as much as he does production. That means Etling, a true freshman who enrolled in the second semester and participated in spring practice, will have a chance to beat out veteran Rob Henry for the starting quarterback job. It might not happen at the start of August training camp, but it might during the season if Etling shows he's ready and Henry shows signs of vulnerability.

There's vulnerability at linebacker and youth on the offensive line, but potential is there.

Come the Aug. 31 season opener at Cincinnati, we'll start seeing how potential matches with results.