Since Jeff Brohm left West Lafayette for Louisville, Purdue has been rocked by transfer portal departures on top of the talent already headed to the NFL. Ryan Walters has seen a number of players announce their intentions to play next season elsewhere in the short time he has been head coach.
After National Early Signing Day, Walters said “We will return to the recruiting trail and hit the transfer portal to put together a complete class in the spring.”
Who could Purdue target in the extremely deep pool of players that have entered the transfer portal? Here are a couple of names at each offensive position group that could come to West Lafayette for next season.
On his new radio show with Purdue, Ryan Walters said “We have had a lot of interest from some high profile quarterbacks”, which is eluding to something being on the horizon.
Purdue is slated to have Michael Alaimo, Brady Allen and incoming freshman Ryan Browne as the team’s scholarship quarterbacks next season, with Alaimo and Allen figuring to compete for the starting job. However, nobody on the roster has taken a meaningful snap to this point.
A veteran quarterback could look for a fresh start in Graham Harrell’s “Air Raid” offense and would immediately be the leader in the clubhouse for the starting job.
Purdue is reportedly “in the mix” for Texas transfer quarterback, Hudson Card. Notre Dame, Oregon State and Illinois were other schools mentioned as well. (Oregon State has since landed DJ Uiagalelei, so that likely takes them out of the picture).
At Texas, Card had 1,523 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while completing 65.5% of his 194 career pass attempts. Card started in five games for the Longhorns during his three years in Austin. This season, he started in three games for the injured Quinn Ewers and had 741 yards with 6 touchdowns and one interception. Texas was 2-1 over those three games.
This is one of the most interesting stories in college football. Former North Texas quarterback Austin Aune will turn 30 years old in the first month of next football season and has entered the transfer portal.
As true freshman Brady Allen waits in the wings, a one-year quarterback would make the most sense for Purdue. That could very well be Austin Aune. The oldest quarterback at the FBS level actually spent six seasons in the New York Yankees organization out of high school.
After three seasons in limited time with the Mean Green, he broke onto the scene in 2022 and threw for 3,547 yards and 33 touchdowns which were both in the top ten nationally. That came on the heels of an up and down 2021 season that saw him throw 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Aune did run for 325 yards and three touchdowns that year however.
A product of Seth Littrell, Aune could move to another Mike Leach disciple in Graham Harrell.
Other names to watch: Luke Altmyer; Ole Miss, Brennan Armstrong; Virginia.
Before people get all up in arms, let me first preface this. Devin Mockobee should and will be Purdue’s featured back heading into next season.
Although, when you look around college football, great running teams have several options out of the backfield. Purdue is set to have only three scholarship running backs on the roster as things stand right now with Mockobee, Dylan Downing and Kentrell Marks.
With the uncertainty aside from their redshirt freshman, the Boilermakers could look to add depth behind Mockobee or create a two headed monster in the backfield.
Indianapolis native and former Ball State running back Carson Steele would be an interesting addition to the Purdue running back room. Steele broke onto to scene in Muncie and has become one of the most productive running backs in the country. The former Indiana Mr. Football ran for 1,556 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Steele won MAC Running Back of the Year and was named First Team All-MAC offense in 2022. For his career, he has 2,447 yards on an average of 5.1 yards per carry and 20 touchdowns. Steele is a pass catching threat as well, with 41 receptions and 323 yards through the air.
Out of high school, Steele chose Ball State over a preferred walk-on spot at Purdue. The Boilermakers will have more competition for his services this time around, but Steele and Mockobee would make for an electric backfield in West Lafayette.
Running back Isaac Guerendo is a familiar name for Purdue fans after spending four years at Wisconsin. Guerendo was stuck behind All-Big Ten performer Braelon Allen, former All-American Jonathan Taylor and even Chez Mellusi in Madison.
Guerendo ran for 385 yards on 64 carries and scored five touchdowns for the Badgers this season before entering the transfer portal. He also had a 54 yard touchdown run against Purdue in October this year. The 6’0″, 223 pound running back is an Indiana native, playing at Avon High School.
Guerendo brings a different skillset to the table than Devin Mockobee and would make for a great one-two punch with the Boilermakers.
Other names to watch: Jalen Mitchell; Louisville, Malik Jackson; Louisiana Monroe, Jonzell Norrils; Akron, Gavin Williams; Iowa.
As Charlie Jones departs, Purdue will be tasked with replacing an NFL caliber wide receiver for the third consecutive offseason.
At the moment, the starting receiver core is TJ Sheffield, Broc Thompson and Mershawn Rice. At West Virginia last season, Graham Harrell had three wide receivers over 500 yards on the season. Only Thompson roster has eclipsed that mark of the players currently on the roster. If Purdue does not bring in a transfer at the receiver position, expect to see Elijah Canion, Zion Steptoe, Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen and Deion Burks in larger roles.
Who are two targets Purdue could look to add at the receiver spot?
Harrell could try to lure one of his former players to West Lafayette in Kaden Prather. Prather played for West Virginia last season, catching 52 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns in Harrell’s offense.
Prather is a big and physical receiver as he’s listed at 6’4″ and 211 pounds. He was also a highly touted recruit out of high school, with Rivals ranking him as a four-star prospect.
Arland Bruce IV:
Purdue landed an undervalued wide receiver from Iowa last offseason, why not go back to the well? Former Hawkeyes wide receiver Arland Bruce IV could be on the radar of the Boilermakers. The sophomore was an explosive and versatile player at the receiver spot in Iowa City.
Over two seasons, Bruce IV had 44 catches for 396 yards for two touchdowns, but was used in other ways as well. The 5’10” receiver also had 21 carries for 116 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Similar to Jones, Bruce IV was Iowa’s main punt returner and had 123 yards in the return game this season.
Other names to watch: Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda from Nebraska, Deandre McCray from Austin Peay, Dante Cephas from Kent State and Grant DuBose from Charlotte.
Not only does Purdue have to replace an All-American wide receiver, but Ryan Walters will also be tasked with finding a replacement for All-Big Ten tight end Payne Durham.
Heading into next season, Purdue has Garrett Miller (who is coming off a torn ACL), Paul Piferi and Drew Biber as their main stable of tight ends. Walters could see the room benefitting from another pass catcher at the position.
Arkansas State transfer Seydou Traore is one of the most highly touted tight end transfers on the market this cycle.
The sophomore tight end had 50 catches for 655 yards and four touchdowns with the Red Wolves this season. He is 6’4″, 223 pounds and was originally recruited as a wide receiver. Traore is able to play on the line of scrimmage, in the slot or out wide. He would bring a different aspect in the passing game for the Boilermakers.
Coming from Tyson Helton’s high-powered offense, Western Kentucky transfer Joshua Simon is an interesting option at tight end for Purdue as well.
The 6’4″, 235 pound pass catcher had 20 receptions for 273 yards and seven touchdowns this season. His seven touchdowns were tied for second most on the team. For his career, Simon has registered 86 catches for 1,146 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Simon would provide another athletic target for Purdue at the tight end position that is different from Miller, Piferi and Biber.
Purdue’s offensive line was one of the strongest units on the team this season and has young players like Marcus Mbow and Mahamane Moussa set to return. Spencer Holstege transferring, an injury to Gus Hartwig and Eric Miller’s COVID year decision could leave a few holes on the Boilermakers’ offensive line though.
Purdue has reserves Jared Bycznski and Zach Richards at left guard, but neither have seen meaningful snaps on the offensive line. Ryan Walters has reportedly already started looking for veteran lineman in the portal.
Per a source, Purdue has offered Miami (Ohio) transfer offensive lineman Caleb Shaffer in recent days. Shaffer started all four years for the RedHawks and has the ability to play multiple spots on the offensive line. Ryan Walters would likely ask him to play guard for the Boilermakers. Shaffer is also an Indiana native, playing for Carmel High School.
Ivy League standout Mason Williams would be an excellent fit with the Boilermakers. Williams is a graduate transfer from Harvard with two years of eligibility remaining. For the Crimson, he was a 1st Team All-Ivy League selection and All-ECAC Offense team selection. Williams started for two years at Harvard and has experience at both left guard and right guard.
If Eric Miller decides to end his college football career or enters the transfer portal like several other Purdue seniors have, Ryan Walters should be giving Gunner Britton a call.
The Western Kentucky transfer is one of the best offensive lineman in the transfer portal. Pro Football Focus gave Britton the fifth-best pass blocking grade in the country this season and listed him as the “eighth-most-valuable tackle in the nation this year”.
He also split time on the line of scrimmage starting seven games at left tackle and six games at right tackle for the Hilltoppers. Britton would be an instant impact player for the Boilermakers and solidify the starting offensive line.