Jeff Brohm is no fool.
Of course it’s about recruiting.
For him to succeed, as Darrell Hazell and Danny Hope did not with Purdue football, a big talent upgrade is needed.
So as Purdue’s new football coach begins a new era, as he puts together a new staff — ex-Northrop Bruin JaMarkus Shephard is officially in, Brian Brohm is on his way, with more to come — the quest for better players rocks on.
So does reality.
Barring a break, the Boilers won’t best Ohio State, Michigan and other college heavyweights for four- and five-star talent, but they don’t have to.
You can win with three-star guys if they care enough, are committed enough, focused enough, developed enough and coached well enough.
That is Brohm’s challenge.
“There are a lot of good guys out there,” he said, “and if you coach them up and get guys that want to become great, you can help develop those guys to be great.”
Purdue currently has 14 commitments (10 with three stars), although how many of those actually sign in February is uncertain. A new era changes everything, and the only thing for sure is recruits from high schools and junior colleges will visit campus this weekend.
Brohm has an innovative offensive scheme that generates big-time offense.
At least, it did at Western Kentucky.
Will it work against stout Big Ten defenses?
Absolutely — if the players are good enough.
That starts at quarterback. It’s no coincidence that Joe Tiller won a Big Ten co-championship at Purdue in 2000 with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees running the show.
Tiller had the Boilers winning when he had NFL-caliber quarterbacks, guys such as Brees and Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter.
Brohm, a former standout quarterback at Louisville with years of pro experience, fully understands the importance of the position.
He has a good one in David Blough, who led the Big Ten in passing as a sophomore.
But Brohm has to plan for the future. So as he hits the recruiting trail, what does he look for in a quarterback?
“Obviously leadership skills and toughness, all the intangibles are important. When you're recruiting them, you need to get to know them, and what their makeup is.
“Do they love football? Are they willing to go the extra mile? Are they competitors? I love it when they play other sports and they're used to competing every day.
“And then, of course, you've got to look at the release and the motion and the athletic ability, all those things, but really the intangibles are as important as anything.
“I think if you get a guy who wants to work hard, we have a plan and a method to improve them. You've not only got to improve them as a player, to succeed you’ve got to build the offense around who you have. It's not just this is what we run. If you have a true drop-back guy, you're going to have to figure out a way to throw the ball and do some things in that avenue. If you've got a dual-threat guy, you've got to take advantage of that.
“So you've got to build it around his strengths, and you've got to make sure he's not getting hit a lot. Sometimes when guys get hit a lot, that causes them to turn the ball over and make mistakes. You've got to take care of them.
“Everyone is different, and we'll make mistakes on it some, too, but I think we've got a good feel of the pulse of that position and how to develop it and recruit it. You need more than one. You need a couple guys. You’ve got to provide the competition. Get enough guys to compete in practice every day so they’re fighting for their job to get better.”
As far as his overall recruiting philosophy, Brohm said it will start within a three-hour radius of West Lafayette, and then go national as needed
“We have to make sure we hammer home with that (three-hour radius) and get all the great players we can over here, get them to know us, what we're doing to do, get around us, get around their coaches and convince them to play at Purdue.
“From there it’s important to go south. I've had a lot of success in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, working our way into Texas. It’s important to get as many good football players as you can, and we’ll make sure we go around the country when we need to, but I don’t think we need to recruit all 50 states.
“It’s important to get the best quarterbacks you can. It's also important to get the best linemen you can on offense and defense. You have to have enough of them. I think some people sign too many skill guys and don't have enough linemen. You have to have the linemen on both sides of the ball to win at a high level.
“That's the map we'll have to start off. We’re going to go after great players, and if we can display what we’re all about, get to know them, we’ll have a chance.”