Purdue Players Transfer To Different Schools, Hoping For Greener Pastures

When college football’s version of musical chairs, the transfer portal, closed on April 30 there were 2,640 athletes looking for new homes according to On3.com.

That number would fill the 85-man scholarship limit for 31 of the 69 Power 5 conference schools. Take away Deion Sanders and his massive cuts (56 players) at Colorado, and most schools have between 10 to 20 athletes looking for a new home.

Now add in the high school recruiting classes and some junior college transfers. The math says hundreds of these homeless players won’t be playing major college football in the fall.

Purdue saw 22 players depart for what they hope are greener pastures. The biggest losses were starting guard Spencer Holstege (UCLA), starting tackle Eric Miller (Louisville) and three graduate transfers: defensive tackles Branson Deen (Miami, Fla.) and Lawrence Johnson (Auburn), and defensive end Jack Sullivan (USC). Former starting wide receiver Milton Wright, who was academically ineligible for the 2021 Music City Bowl and the 2022 season, entered the transfer portal on the final day.

Presumed starting quarterback Hudson Card (Texas), former Auburn four-star defensive lineman Jeffrey M’ba and former Mississippi four-star cornerback Braxton Myers lead the 16-man (so far) Boilermaker transfer class.

Linebacker Dasan McCullough and his brother, safety Deland McCullough, are among the most notable of the 20 former Indiana players in the portal. Former Tennessee quarterback Tayven Jackson heads the 18 players coming to Bloomington from other schools.

For a new coach like Purdue’s Ryan Walters, the transfer portal is a necessary evil to fill perceived needs that Jeff Brohm’s 2020-22 recruiting classes failed to address. It remains to be seen whether Walters has improved the secondary and offensive line, arguably the Boilermakers’ weakest units.

Let’s take a look at those three Brohm recruiting classes.

The 2020 group was ranked 32nd by 247Sports, topped by five four-star recruits. Unfortunately, only Zionsville graduate Gus Hartwig has lived up to that billing.

Hartwig has been that rare species in college football, an offensive lineman who played (and started) as a true freshman.

Four-star receiver Maliq Carr was lured away by Michigan State after making one catch for 15 yards during the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season. In two seasons with the Spartans, Carr has 24 receptions for 344 yards and two touchdowns.

Four-star quarterback Michael Alaimo threw for 74 yards and a touchdown last season. He is among the 22 Boilermakers in the transfer portal.

Four-star running back Tirek Murphy never played a down before transferring to Rhode Island. Four-star wide receiver Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen has battled injuries for three seasons.

The good news? The class had two future NFL players: junior college defensive end DaMarcus Mitchell (New England) and safety Tyler Coyle (Dallas), who transferred from Connecticut. Another transfer, Greg Long, was a two-year starter at offensive tackle after transferring from UTEP.

The bad news? Only 11 of the 27 recruits remain on Purdue’s roster. Hartwig, safety Sanoussi Kane and linebacker Kydran Jenkins are starters. Josh Kaltenberger took over at center last season when Hartwig was lost to a knee injury. Yaseen caught four passes in eight games last season.

Reserve linebacker Clyde Washington has played in 24 games. Safety Antonio Stevens suffered a devastating knee injury as a freshman but appeared in 13 games in 2022. Linebackers Ben Kreul and Ryan Brandt have been on special teams. Offensive linemen Jared Bycznski and Nalin Fox haven’t been major contributors.

Recruiting rankings sometimes can be deceiving but Purdue’s 2021 class is living down to its 75th rating.

Linebacker Yanni Karlaftis was the only 4-star recruit among the 26-man class. Injuries and position switches have hampered his progress but he has three years of eligibility remaining. Walters’ defensive scheme might finally take advantage of Karlaftis’ skills.

Three of the high school recruits have become starters: offensive linemen Mahamane Moussa and Marcus Mbow, along with punter Jack Ansell. Outside linebacker Khordae Sydnor has been a major contributor, as has junior college defensive tackle Prince James Boyd Jr. The jury remains out on wide receivers Deion Burks and Preston Terrell, and tight end Drew Biber.

Three members of the class are in the transfer portal and a fourth, running back Ja’Quez Cross didn’t finish his freshman season and transferred to Arkansas State.

The saving grace of the 2021 class were the transfers, most notably Music City Bowl standouts Broc Thompson and safety Chris Jefferson. Guard Tyler Witt and linebacker O.C. Brothers became starters. Indiana transfer Damarjhe Lewis was a major contributor at defensive tackle before missing the 2022 season with a broken ankle. Former Carmel standout Dylan Downing has been part of the running back rotation.

On paper, the 2022 Purdue recruiting class improved significantly, moving up to 38th in the 247 Sports composite rankings. There is promise that still could be fulfilled, although one of the four, four-star recruits has entered the transfer portal (Indiana Mr. Football Brady Allen).

Outside linebacker Nic Caraway played every game as a true freshman, recording two sacks among his 22 tackles. The other four-star recruits, defensive end Joe Strickland and wide receiver Curtis Deville, redshirted.

Defensive tackle Mo Omonode of West Lafayette recorded seven tackles in 11 games while filling the void left by Lewis’ injury.

The star of the class, however, was Iowa transfer wide receiver Charlie Jones. A fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones became an All-American in his lone season at Purdue.

Three other key transfers were former Carmel standout Cole Brevard, 2017 Indiana Mr. Football Reese Taylor and wide receiver/running back Tyrone Tracy.

Of the 26-member class, seven went into the transfer portal: Allen, running backs Kentrell Marks and Kobe Lewis (Florida Atlantic), guard Sione Finau (Arizona State), tight end Charlie Kenrich, safety Jordan Buchanan and cornerback Tee Denson.

– Kenny Thompson is the former sports editor for the Lafayette Journal & Cou¬rier and an award-winning journalist. He has covered Purdue athletics for many years.