WEST LAFAYETTE — Jeff Brohm can't talk about them. NCAA recruiting rules won't allow it. But you'd better believe Purdue's football coach knows all about the talent that rises out of the Fort Wayne area every year like smoke from a fire.
In the Class of 2018, there are standouts such as Snider defensive end Lawrence Johnson, Bishop Luers receiver Dashon Bussell and East Noble quarterback/linebacker Andrew McCormick.
For the Class of 2019, prospects include Wayne's Craig Young and Darius Alexander, and Luers' Jordan Presley.
They are the latest in a tradition-rich area that includes 11 state titles from Luers (third-most behind Indianapolis Chatard's 13 and Indianapolis Cathedral's 11), four from Bishop Dwenger and two from Snider.
Fort Wayne has been good to Purdue over the years with football superstars such as Rod Woodson of Snider, Anthony Spencer of Luers and Roosevelt Barnes of Wayne. Bishop Dwenger's Landon Feichter was standout safety a couple of years ago.
With Brohm running the program, the city likely will again be Boiler good.
Brohm has a Fort Wayne connection on his staff with receiver coach/passing game coordinator JaMarcus Shephard, a former Northrop standout.
“He takes a lot of pride in his background and where his roots are,” Brohm says from his Mollenkopf Athletic Center office.
The only current Fort Wayne player on the roster is Antonio Blackmon, a junior cornerback who walked on in the spring.
Brohm has had five months to clean up the damage from Darrell Hazell's four-year disastrous run. Plenty of work remains, but the coach and his staff are making progress.
As far as recruiting Fort Wayne, Brohm says “Fort Wayne will be a huge target for us. They play good football there.
“We'll try to get the best guys out of there we can. We'll have to win some games. If we get a few difference makers from there, we can build the team around them and have success.”
Purdue will recruit well outside the Fort Wayne area. The rest of Indiana is a top priority, and then beyond to upgrade the talent level as much as possible.
As far as in-state recruiting, Brohm says, “We've got to make up a lot of ground. There isn't any question about that. We have to re-establish the relationships and the trust within the coaches and the high schools, and our staff and university.
“For whatever reason, it hasn't been where it should be. We have to work our tail off to get back to that so they trust us, feel good about what we're doing and how we're doing it. They have to get to know us and what type of coaches and men we are, as far as values and what we stand for.
“If we do that and identify the proper guys, we'll fight and battle for every top recruit in-state we can. Is it going to be easy to win the battle right off the bat? Maybe not, but we're not going to back down.”
Brohm's staff has been hitting the recruiting road hard since mid-April, and will keep it up until the end of May.
“There's a six-week window where you can go on the road and spring recruit,” he says. “For football, it's more of an evaluation because you can't have contact with prospects. You can get their grades, meet their coach. If they're working out or playing a sport, you can watch them, but that's it.”
College coaches have summer camps in June, and Brohm will invite plenty of prospects to his.
“It lets us coach you and see what we think of you, but also what you think of us as coaches.”
Unofficial visits are a big way to get players on campus.
“Sometimes players will come up with their parents,” Brohm says. “That lets us show them what the university is all about and what we have to offer, and how we think they'll fit in. We sell them on what we're selling. What we can do for you as a student and an athlete.
“We've had quite a few people come on campus. We're getting out and seeing a bunch of others. The feedback has been good.”
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