WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Purdue coach Darrell Hazell could be turning the "Cradle of Quarterbacks" into Power U.
On Wednesday, the Boilermakers took a detour from their traditional reputation by getting bigger and stronger across the offensive and defensive lines, adding three physical running backs and two 6-foot-3 receivers in their 25-player recruiting class.
Hazell just figured it's what Purdue needs to keep up in one of college football's most grueling conferences.
"It's a very physical conference and you saw the attrition teams had at the end of the year because it is such a physical conference," Hazell said, referring to the plan for his third recruiting class. "So that was something we wanted to do this year."
The new guys could have a long-lasting impact on the perception of Boilermakers' football.
Purdue's coaches believe powerful 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back Markell Jones, Indiana's reigning Mr. Football from Columbus East, could compete for a starting job this year. He will be joined in the backfield by two other strong runners -- Tario Fuller from Georgia and Richard Worship from Ohio.
"When you look at them, they look like Big Ten backs," running backs coach Jafar Williams said. "I really think this group is going to change the shape of our running backs for years to come."
If all goes well, those three will be running behind four new offensive linemen including 6-8, 300-pound tackle Larry Wells. The smallest of those four is Michael Mendez at 6-4, 286.
By adding receivers Anthony Mahoungou and Domonique Young, Hazell is hoping that will open things inside for the Boilermakers' slot receivers.
The Boilermakers also signed four linebackers and three defensive linemen including 270-pound tackle Eddie Wilson who defensive line coach Rubin Carter believes will add enough weight to become a 300-pound run-stuffer.
Purdue, of course, did take one quarterback -- Kentucky's record-setting Elijah Sandler, who is already enrolled in school and just started throwing after recovering from a torn ACL.
But for Hazell, this recruiting class wall about one thing.
"What we looked for in this class was to get bigger and stronger," he said.
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: Markell Jones, RB, Columbus, Indiana
Best of the rest: LB Wyatt Cook, WR Anthony Mahoungou, QB Elijah Sindelar, OL Larry Wells, DE Eddie Wilson
Late addition: DT Fred Brown
One that got away: DE Chazmyn Turner
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