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January 28, 2013
The fact that Evan Panfil grew up in a Purdue family wanting to play for Purdue certainly factored into the defensive end's decision to switch his commitment from Illinois on Monday.
But it wasn't what got him for the Boilermakers.
Rather, it was Illinois losing defensive line coach Keith Gilmore to North Carolina this week that led to the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Rivals.com three-star prospect from Lincoln Way Central in New Lenox, Ill., committing to the Boilermakers.
"I've always been interested in Purdue ever since I was little. I was looking for an offer this summer but nothing happened with Coach (Danny) Hope," Panfil said. "But then Coach (Darrell) Hazell came in and he offered me. I was going to stick with Illinois, but then Coach Gilmore left for North Carolina … and I wasn't really sure with the coaching stability.
"It kind of made the decision (to decommit) easier, but it was definitely tough. (Illinois) gave me a chance when I only had MAC offers and Mountain West offers and I really wanted to play in the Big Ten. It was tough to let them down. I understand you have to pick the best school for you and you can't pick the coaches, but I really wanted to play for Coach Gilmore, and if he were still there, honestly that's where I'd probably be going still. But since he's gone and Coach (Luke) Butkus is gone, the coaching stability was a little bit of a question."
All that said, by committing to Purdue, Panfil fulfilled a career-long ambition, albeit one that was put off to the side once he pledged to the Illini in November.
Panfil is literally surrounded by pro-Boilermaker influence.
His grandfather, Ken Panfil, and uncle, Vince Panfil, played at Purdue, and his mother and cousins attended the school.
"It has been kind of tough, getting a lot of pressure from my family just because of the Purdue presence," Panfil said. "But it feels good to be able to say I'm a Boilermaker."
Hazell and his new Purdue staff are happy to have him after beginning work to change his mind several weeks ago.
New defensive coordinator Greg Hudson visited him more than once in recent weeks, Panfil said.
I watched the defense at Florida State," Panfil said of Hudson, who was linebackers coach and assistant head coach at FSU prior to coming to Purdue. "I liked him and what they ran there and how they incorporated their defensive ends into things.
"Coach Hudson explained what he could potentially do with me. He said I'm athletic enough to where maybe sometimes I could stand up at defensive end or be a true 5-technique defensive end. That's what I'm used to playing in high school. He said he gives his defensive linemen a lot of freedom and that it's a very basic defense more than anything that just allows you to really fly around and make some big plays on the ball. That's what I like doing."
Purdue came into the past two weekends needing help at defensive end. But with the commitments of Panfil and Ohio's Antoine Miles, it has eased those concerns pretty thoroughly.
"I have a real good motor and I think I'm a good pass-rusher," Panfil said. "I think I did well with run defense this year and I'm starting to put on some weight, getting up to 240 right now. It's coming along. I'm starting to fill in my frame. … It's starting to come along. But I'm definitely a pass-rusher and my run defense is coming along."
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