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Purdue recruiting for football championship

Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell speaks during the NCAA Big Ten football media day meetings Wednesday in Chicago. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell speaks during the NCAA Big Ten football media day meetings Wednesday in Chicago. (Photo by The Associated Press)

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

IU freshmen set to make early impact

Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:01 am
CHICAGO, Ill. — Darrell Hazell couldn't get recruiting specific. NCAA rules don't allow it. But the Purdue coach's smile during Big Ten football media day activities spoke volumes.Life is good these days.

Carroll's highly regarded safety Drue Tranquill announced on Tuesday night he'll be a Boilermaker. Two weeks earlier, Lake Central defensive end Gelen Robinson committed. Both rate among the state of Indiana's top-10 players for the Class of 2014.

Two weeks before that, Hazell had gotten a commitment from highly regarded 6-9, 285-pound offensive tackle Denzel Ward out of Florida. Then there was Texas quarterback David Blough thriving at the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp in Oregon.

“We're doing a good job as a staff at finding those guys who can help us win championships,” Hazell said Wednesday. “I'm very pleased where we are right now.”

Purdue has eight committed players. The others are Mishawka offensive lineman Kirk Barron, Texas receiver Trae Hart, Arkansas kicker Austin McGehee and Georgia receiver Gregory Phillips.

“My goal coming out of the summer time was to have eight to 10 commitments,” Hazell said. “I think we're right at 8. I feel good about it.”

Hazell came to Purdue last December determined to reinvigorate the program's in-state recruiting, and the surrounding states as well.

“I think the message is getting out,” Hazell said. “I don't think it's as strong as it needs to be yet. We probably have to play a season first.

“We're trying to drive the message home — the state of Purdue is very important to us. That's six states, the six we need to have be committed to Purdue for us to take off the way we want to. When I say take off, I'm not talking about a (one-year success). I'm talking about keeping the program up here for a long time.”

Those six states include Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.IU's best freshman class in a generation figures to make a big early impact, especially on defense. Four-star players Antonio Allen (defensive back), Rashard Fant (athlete), David Kennedy (defensive end) and Darius Latham (defensive tackle) are among the 23 newcomers. That includes Homestead receiver Isaac Griffith.

Coach Kevin Wilson isn't afraid to play freshmen. Two years ago he played 16. Last year, it was 11.

“We've got, on paper, a great recruiting class,” he said. “Their talent level — some of them are as gifted as many guys we've been playing with.

“Fifteen of them are on defense. The skill set is pretty good. We promised no one you're going to play and start. But I think we'll have competition.

“Some of the young D-linemen will give us competition and depth. The linebackers, and we need to be significantly better at linebacker, will give us some competition. I'm really excited about the corner and safety guys.

“We'll see, when the bullets start flying, that some of those guys will get on the field. There might be some growing pains, but we'll be growing with guys who are faster and more talented. That's exciting to me.”Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a potential national championship squad, but he didn't get to enjoy it during his media opportunity. He faced the heat for some of his players' recent bad behavior.

Two were veterans in running back Carlos Hyde (indefinite suspension after being named a person of interest in an alleged assault) and cornerback Bradley Roby (arrested in Bloomington on charges of battery for his role in a fight). Two were freshmen in tight end Marcus Baugh (suspended a game for underage possession of alcohol and possession of a fake ID) and defensive lineman Tim Gardner (kicked off the team following an arrest on charges of obstructing official police business).

“It's been a tough couple of days,” Meyer said. “In the last 12 months we've had three legal issues and it all happened in three days.

“We had two freshmen who I think have been with us just over three weeks make two stupid decisions that were dealt with very firmly. One's been sent home. One lost his scholarship.

“It drives you insane that you have to deal with that nonsense. But that's part of the issue.

“My concern is I don't want to disrupt this team. The guys have worked too hard. To have a couple of knuckleheads make some decisions that reflect on the entire program — it's something that bothers me. It bothers our staff.

“I talk to them all the time about it. We have an incredible amount of resources and time spent educating players on how to do the right thing at the right time.

“So I'm disappointed. Furious might be the best word to describe it.”Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany offered a four-part plan for NCAA reform.

The first would be an educational trust for athletes who left school without getting a degree. If the player returned to school at a later date, the school would pay for his or her remaining expenses.

The second involved a balance between academic and athletic time. NCAA rules only permit 20 hours during the season, but athletes go way over that by working out or watching film on their own.

The third involves giving academic “at-risk” students a first year to focus on school work, and then get four years of athletic eligibility.

Finally, he's in favor of all full-scholarship athletes receiving money for the “cost of education.” He said that can range from $3,000 to $6,000 depending on the school.Purdue's defensive line prospects took a hit with the loss of senior defensive tackle Brandon Taylor because of academic issues.

Hazell told GoldandBlack.com that Taylor won't play this season. He played 10 games last year with 11 tackles. He was a projected starter.

Veteran Bruce Gaston is back at one defensive tackle spot. Ryan Isaac, Eric McDaniel, Michael Rouse and Ryan Watson will compete for Taylor's spot. Isaac has the most experience with 30 career tackles in 26 games.

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio


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