If it’s Saturday, even during a coronation and the Kentucky Derby, it must be the round table. The day when each member of staff answers a question of my choice.
With the transfer gate now ‘technically’ closed, although people are still coming in, which group of Purdue football positions do you think have benefited the most?
I’d like to be smart with this, break it down in detail, and you really feel like you’ve gained some much-needed insight into this football team heading into next season. I would love to do it, but I won’t. I won’t because to me the answer is obvious. This is the QB position. Heading into this season, Purdue lost AOC in the draft and honestly, what did we have on the roster? A group of people who only took a handful of college snaps and threw even fewer passes. QB is such an important position that an upgrade there can mean so much. Ryan Walters came out and got an incredible player in Hudson Card who will make a difference on this offense and therefore on this team. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the most impactful signing of the offseason.
I’m going to cheat a little. Editor’s note: I authorize it.
Quarterback – Quarterback is the most important position in sports, and Purdue didn’t have one suited to handling its quick decision-making attacking style. Enter Hudson Card, the former Texas quarterback, in terms of potential, is Purdue’s best option since….. Kyle Orton perhaps? The birthplace of quarterbacks hasn’t had much top talent since Cowboy Joe was at the helm. There have been some good quarterbacks (Painter, Elliot, Marve, Etling Sindelar, Blough, O’Connell) but in terms of pro potential, Card is a cut above in terms of pedigree. The 4-star top-100 quarterback showed some of his skills during his time in Austin, but this offense is better suited. If you have a quarterback, you have a chance, and Purdue has a quarterback thanks to the portal.
Defensive Line – The defense moves to a larger front 3 with a nose and 2 defensive tackle sized defensive ends. To facilitate this change, Coach Kane hit the portal hard. 6’5, 300 pounds Jeffrey M’Ba was the highest-rated JuCo player in the 2022 class. He signed with Auburn after also visiting Miami and Tennessee, but returned to the portal after the coaching change at Auburn and Purdue picked it up. I expect to see him at one of the end positions. Former 4* Malik Langham originally signed with Florida in the 2018 class after official visits to Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. He was traded to Vandy after the 2019 season and after sitting out because of the old transfer rules (remember these) that have appeared in every Vandy game since. He didn’t put in big numbers, but the experienced 6’5”, 310-pound 6th-grade senior is tailor-made to play in a 3-4 lineup. Finally, Isaiah Nichols completes the SEC trifecta, the 6’3, 315 1/2 man, half fire hydrant, can play on the edge or in the nose and brings 49 games of experience, including 23 line starts . In terms of talent, it’s an improvement over what Purdue put on the field last season. I expect Purdue to start 3 former defensive line transfers next season, and I expect the top 2 rotation plays to be transfers as well, if that gives you any indication of the quality of recruiting defensive tackles in high school over the past few seasons.
Purdue added 13 transfers, I believe, this offseason, but we also had a lot of player departures. I think where we benefited the most was the cornerback position. We really struggled with our defense last season and allowed way too many thirds and long conversions. With the addition of guys like Braxton Myers and Muhammad, hopefully they can contain some of those receivers better. Myers, who originally signed up with Ole Miss, is a 4-star rookie and one of the highest-rated players the Boilers have landed. Muhammad spent 3 seasons at Stanford prior to his commitment to Purdue and has two years left of eligibility. We’re up against a gauntlet of fixtures next season and with a new head coach and several new faces, I think we’re all eager to see how it all pans out.
It will be hard to say anything other than QB with the size of a Hudson Card signing for Purdue. Card is a legit B1G QB who could start for most other B1G programs and that’s Purdue’s recipe for success.
I could have said DB with some of the big additions there, especially with Jaheim Merriweather leaving Ole Miss for Purdue, but QB has been the keystone for the Boilers.
Because the two transfers in the defensive back realm are in different positions, I’ll go with the wide receiver group. Bringing in Corey Gammage from Marshall and Jahmal Edrine from FAU will bring some much-needed depth and energy to a group with plenty of question marks at the start of the season. Hudson Card will have more guys throwing it and that’s never a bad thing.
I’m not going to try to be too cute here. In football, the blame lies with the quarterback, and it looks like Coach Walters is ready to go all-in with his new cards. Find?
If nothing else, no position group will be depending, depending on transfers as much as QB. Heck, our entire season pretty much hinges on producing Hudson Card in Graham Harrell’s offense. If the quarterback position actually benefited of the Hudson Card’s arrival will be much more evident in December, but for now all we can do is drop the chips where they can (no more poker puns).
After winning back-to-back conference seasons for the first time since 1997-98, expectations have never been higher for Purdue football in my lifetime. The pressure is going to be immense on Ryan Walters to build on the program he supports, and it’s all going to fall on the shoulders of a traded quarterback. It will be fun to watch and see if Ross-Ade’s renovations hold up or if the house of cards crumbles. Well, no more puns, I promise.
I will go with the defensive line.
The addition of two experienced DLs with lots of cliches as space tampers in a high-running conference moved to another high-running conference should provide some much-needed insight into the trenches for Purdue after a big portal roll of transfer. It’s normal when a head coach takes another job.
Specifically, the additions of former Auburn Tiger Jeffrey M’Ba and former Vanderbilt Commodore Malik Langham bring two guys who have played in all of their former teams’ games in 2022, both used primarily as fillers to allow the point runners and middle linebackers to take care of who might carry the rock.
Both are tall, physically fit guys who started playing football later than most, so I trust a defensive-minded new head coach to know who he brings into the program.