Purdue's football program wants to make an impact in Chicago under new coach Danny Hope as it once did under coach Jack Mollenkopf.
Under Mollenkopf, the Boilermakers recruited what arguably was one of the best classes in Big 10 history. In 1969, they signed five blue-chippers out of the Chicago area--Darryl Stingley of Marshall, Otis Armstrong of Farragut, Dave Butz of Maine South, Gregg Bingham of Gordon Tech and Pete Baumgartner of St. Patrick.
Purdue wasn't a major presence in Chicago under coach Joe Tiller but Hope, who recruited the city and suburbs when he was an assistant at Louisville, plans to make Chicago, Indiana and Florida his primary recruiting bases.
Hope has roots in Florida. He is a graduate of Miami Killian, one of the leading high schools in the state. He was an assistant coach at Louisville, where he recruited NFL safety Ray Buchanan from Proviso East, and he also assisted at Purdue and Oklahoma before becoming head coach at Eastern Kentucky. Last year, he joined Tiller's staff as the heir apparent at Purdue.
I believe he will be able to keep pace with Illinois' Ron Zook and Minnesota's Tim Brewster and the other aggressive recruiters in the Big 10. You can't beat Ohio State's Jim Tressel head-to-head for talent in Ohio but there are enough good players in the state if you properly evaluate them, as Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois have done.
Tiller wasn't a great recruiter and chose not to spend much time in Chicago. To be successful, Hope needs nine aggressive recruiters, as Brewster has at Minnesota. Purdue hasn't recruited well in the last two years and the talent level is down. It will take a while to bounce back. Unless you are Ohio State, Michigan or Notre Dame, it normally takes four good recruiting classes in a row to turn a program around.
Meanwhile, college coaches are starting to get ready for spring practice and high school prospects will begin making unofficial visits to college campuses. It has been the usual lull since February except for the signing of Bryce Brown, the nation's top-rated running back, by Tennessee.
Just as Danny Hope hopes to make an impact in the Big 10, Lane Kiffin already has made an impact in the SEC. Tennessee's first-year coach has assembled the best and most aggressive recruiting staff in the country. The signing of Brown gives them instant credibility. No one is laughing at Kiffin now.
Kiffin is a major player in the recruiting world. He will keep the rest of the SEC on their toes going into the next recruiting year. Look for him to show up in Chicago. He will attend film sessions at the National College Scouting Association in May. Remember, Tennessee has recruited outstanding players out of the Chicago area in the past, including Dwayne Goodrich, Eric Parker and Ramone Johnson.
This year, Kiffin has indicated that he is interested in two of the top five prospects in Illinois, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg and wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West. The Vols also were after offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd before he committed to Notre Dame in January.
Elsewhere, Notre Dame has offered 6-4, 170-pound quarterback Austin Hinder of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Hinder is the No. 1 prospect in Colorado. He has received over 10 offers. He is tall and has a good arm but needs to put on weight.