Brohm's reaction when he landed David Bell: 'We jumped through the roof'
Back on December 19, Purdue inked an impressive collection of talent. In fact, it was the program’s best recruiting class in the Internet era, according to rivals.com.
Jeff Brohm met with the media that day to discuss the signees, an impressive collection of talent. But there was one player Brohm didn't talk about: Receiver David Bell, from Warren Central High in Indianapolis. It wasn't because Bell hadn't signed his letter-of-intent. He had. But Bell wanted to keep it under wraps and make an announcement on January 5 at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. Today, Brohm finally spoke on record about Bell, the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year and the No. 1 recruit in the state according to rivals.com. How did Brohm react when Bell initially committed to Purdue in the fall?
"We jumped through the roof," he said. "It was huge. He was someone we were on for a long time. In our opinion, he is a special, special player. Being in-state, he’s even more valuable. (He) wanted to keep it silent, of course we were gonna obey his wishes. We had to keep it in. But we were extremely happy about it and it gave us a good feeling to know he was on board."
It was a huge moment for a Purdue program that has had a few of them already in Brohm's brief tenure.
"He (visited) multiple times," said Brohm. "And luckily for us, we had some great visits with him and he was at some big games for us when we threw the ball a lot for some yards and points. Every interaction we had with him was positive. And he’s a very quiet young man, very confident. He doesn’t need a whole lot of hoopla. We try not to be too overbearing. It was just a very good relationship that we felt great about the entire time, but you never take anything for granted."
Make no mistake about it: Bell was an absolute must-get for Purdue, an in-state bellwether who is expected to start from Day One and will work in tandem with last year's freshman sensation Rondale Moore to give the Boilermakers a formidable combination. Receiver is a marquee position in Brohm's wide-open offense that likes to throw ball. Now, Purdue has two top talents to catch passes.
The 5-9, 175-pound Moore will work inside from the slot, while the 6-2, 180-pound Bell will line up outside with senior quarterback Elijah Sindelar directing traffic. Opponents will have to pick their poison while also dealing with veteran wideout Jared Sparks and rising tight end Brycen Hopkins.
"We are absolutely thrilled to add David Bell to the program and our team," said Brohm. "We think without question he is a big-time talent, a difference-maker player that can come in and play right away and showcase what he’s about. And we are excited to find different ways to get him the ball and utilize him. We think he is that much of an impact player."
Can he impact like Moore did last season?
"Well, I try not to put too much pressure on our guys," said Brohm. "Rondale exceeded our expectations But, yes, we think he is in that mold."
Bell paces a collection of receivers that is unmatched in Purdue recruiting history. He is joined by Milton Wright, along with TJ Sheffield and Mershawn Rice. And don't forget about tight end Kyle Bilodeau, who also played in the All-American Bowl with Bell.
"In general, we are very excited about this receiving group that we brought in," said Brohm, whose class ranks No. 26 in the nation by rivals. "Four guys, and we think all four can play and be very productive, big-time players for us. Now, with that, we are gonna be young at a lot of positions, and sometimes it’s not gonna all happen like (it did for) Rondale Moore. But you work to try to get that done. But you have to be patient with it and not force the issue but realize this is a great crew.
"There are some skill positions in the recruiting aspect that got a lot better in our opinion. Whether it transfers the first year, that doesn’t always happen. But we think in general we have potential there. For us, it’s about continuing to build the interior line on both sides of the ball and that’s gonna be very, very important for us."
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What's also important is the cachet landing a player of Bell's magnitude brings to Purdue.
"It is very huge for the Purdue program, the name, the brand," said Brohm. "We want to build this team with the best in-state players we can. And go from there. To get players like David Bell and George Karlaftis on board is a huge statement we need to continue to build upon. For those guys to say, 'hey, I can go to Purdue and achieve all my goals and have my family and friends watching, enjoying the process with me' is a huge plus for us."
Karlaftis is every bit as big of a recruit as Bell. The local product of near-by West Lafayette High School could have gone anywhere in America. And, he chose Purdue ... like Bell.
"David is a special talent," said Brohm. "We knew about him once we got here. When we go recruit the top players, we go in to it like we are gonna get them. We have a lot of great reasons and resources and ways to help them achieve their goals. And we aren’t shy about it when we talk to them individually. Without question, we did that.
"When someone is young and has lots of options, you can’t put too much pressure on them. You just have to state your case and let them listen and digest it and continue to sell your program in a way that’s not overbearing, that is confident and forceful … . And we can make you a priority and make sure we are gonna bend over backwards to help you achieve your goals. It was just a constant thing with myself, Coach (JaMarcus) Shephard and all of our coaches, recruiting department, letting him and his family know that it can happen here."
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