Hope he can recruit

The following is excerpted from an ESPN.com article. I snipped the bits that apply to our Boilermakers.

When Purdue head coach Danny Hope called ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon, he was navigating a road near Bay City, Fla. An hour earlier, Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge phoned in from the Fort Lauderdale area.

The Big Ten recruiting range is expanding far beyond the Midwest, and coaches are spending much of their time in the fertile states of the south and southeast.

Hope, who enters his first season at Purdue, was born in Gainesville, attended high school in Miami and had his first coaching job at Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla. He recruited the area extensively as an assistant at Louisville and head coach at Eastern Kentucky, and the trend certainly has continued at Purdue. No Big Ten program has experienced a more dramatic southerly recruiting shift. Of the Boilermakers' 15 verbal commitments and two early enrollees, 12 come from Florida, two from Georgia, one from Texas and none from Indiana.

"If you're going to notice one school that has put more of an emphasis, it's Rodriguez's staff," Partridge said. "You certainly see those guys down here a lot more than I used to see Michigan. Ohio State has always come down here and had success, and Minnesota has gotten their kids. And you look at Purdue. Purdue is certainly putting their time in.

"That makes sense."

Hope isn't surprised that his first recruiting haul at Purdue will be so heavily rooted in his home state. Though his relationships in Florida certainly played a role, Hope's biggest draw to the state is the type of player he can recruit there.

Big Ten fans have heard the speed argument ad nauseum, especially during the league's recent bowl-game disasters. But there's some credence to it, a fact not lost on Hope or his colleagues.

"We were really looking to add some speed at the skill positions," Hope said. "That's where we had the most seniors on our football team that are graduating. We had to find some guys who could come in and compete early in their careers. So speed was a factor.

"And when we got done with the evaluation process, there were more of them down here that we had a chance to get, so we've focused a lot of effort down here. We've had just about all of our coaches here some."

Purdue's 2009 class features two quarterbacks, four wide receivers, a running back and several other "athletes" who could handle the ball in college.

As speed seemingly becomes the dominant factor in college football, Big Ten coaches look at the glut of talent in the south and head for warmer climates.

"That doesn't take away from the quality in the Midwest, but by and large, they're all going to look down south and take a peek and figure out where is their time best spent."

Hope technically was an assistant coach (offensive line) for Purdue last year -- head coaches are no longer allowed to recruit off campus during the spring evaluation period -- so he made sure to visit the southeast.

Let's see how it goes at the end of the day. That said, the heart of a player is worth more than the stars of their ranking. On paper and film you can look like a world beater in high school and after 4 years in college you can be relegated to a bench warmer.

Also, you're welcome for the gratuitous use of Erin Andrews.

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