Purdue Football's Track Record of Four Star Recruits

By Drew Wooden

Anyone familiar with the world of college sports recruiting knows about the often used “star” rankings. Most recruiting services rank major college prospects on a one through five star system. Even though there are possibility of six different rankings, “one” stars are never used. In essence, here are what the rankings mean:

  • Zero stars: prospect has not been evaluated yet
  • One star: I have yet to see a prospect be ranked with one star
  • Two star: developmental prospect; not likely to make an early impact
  • Three star: less developmental prospect, but still questionable whether they can make early impact
  • Four star: prospect can make early impact, has good skill, measureables, etc.
  • Five star: has ideal size/skill, definite early impact player, higher likelihood of playing professionally
When it comes to Purdue’s football recruiting, Purdue does not land five star recruits (with the exception of Kyle Williams, the “bone crusher” [see below list]). However, Purdue has been able to consistently recruit at least one 4-star recruit each season though. While the 4-star commitments Purdue has received have drummed up excitement for the fan base, Purdue has had a less than stellar track record of success with the 4-star recruits it receives.
Typically, Purdue’s recruiting classes are filled with 3-star recruits and a few 2-star recruits. This makes for a class of players that usually takes 2 years or so to develop, although some defy the odds and make an early impact. This is not a shot at Purdue’s program — many successful programs are built on players that take at least one year to develop before they make a big contribution on the football field. Let’s take a closer look at Purdue’s 4-star recruits and how they have performed since Rivals.com has started tracking Purdue’s football recruiting (note, here is a link to my source of Rivals’ recruiting rankings):
  • 2002: Brandon Kirsch — successful frosh year, but then lost starting job and unthinkably entered the NFL draft. Ended up like a 3 star recruit after you balance out the early success with the comically bad finish.
  • 2002: Anthony Chambers — played two years as a Junior College transfer. Good punt returner and lived up to his billing on special teams. Otherwise, more like a 3 star recruit.
  • 2003: Garret Bushong — this guy was a tool. He called out the student body and was a bust after a promising freshman year. Played more like a 3-star recruit that started off strong and then fizzled out.
  • 2003: Ray Edwards — one of Purdue’s most talented defensive ends ever. Left Purdue early and did not get along with Joe Tiller. He played like a 4-star, although his impact would have been stronger had he stayed at Purdue for a full 4 years.
  • 2003: Doug Van Dyke — He didn’t make grades. Never played for Purdue, so he’s a complete bust.
  • 2004: Ryan Baker — solid 4 year guy that played hard. Did not really live up to his billing as a guy that went on to do big things like his 4-star ranking may suggest, but he’s a player that most BCS coaches would take in a heartbeat. Still, he was more like a solid 3-star guy than a 4-star.
  • 2004: Dorien Bryant — had a successful Purdue career, with some let downs (prone to fumbles, showed less than a great attitude at times). Still, he played like a true 4-star recruit and had a very good college career. Very elusive.
  • 2004: Jeremy Coley — could find very little on this player. No impact for Purdue. Edit: never played for Purdue (thanks Don).
  • 2004: Bruce Gordon — played okay for Temple. He transferred and never played for Purdue. Note: Thanks Don for the clarification. Another 4-star letdown.
  • 2005: Jason Kacinko — never really played a significant role for Purdue. More like a 2 star.
  • 2005: Selwyn Lymon — torched Notre Dame for over 200+ receiving yards one year. Got in trouble with the law after flirting with success and was ultimately kicked off the team. Obviously did not pan out.
  • 2005: J.B. Paxson — ended up playing baseball and never played for Purdue. Yikes.
  • *2005: Kyle Williams (“Bonecrusher”) — was a hard hitter, both on the field and off. He is now incarcerated. Did show flashes of being a very good LB. Purdue’s only 5-star recruit according to Rivals. Obviously, the guy has problems.
  • 2006: Jeff Lindsay — finally contributed as a junior and senior. Played a significant role, but did not live up to his 4-star billing. More like a 2-star or 3-star.
  • 2007: Brian Ellis — never made it to Purdue. Obvious bust.
  • 2008: Ken Plue — TBD, but he has started a significant amount of games (28 to be exact). If he cannot get back in good standing with Coach Danny Hope, he can be considered a player that failed to live up to his tremendous size and potential.
  • 2009: Al-Terek McBurse — he is a bust although he showed some promise as a KR as a Freshman and had a couple of good runs in 2010. He transferred because he was buried on the RB depth chart and ultimately moved to WR.
  • 2010: O.J. Ross — TBD. Showed flashes as a true freshman last year. Had a scare that he may not return after an absence in this year’s training camp. Probably an overreaction by Purdue fans though and he should play a big role in Purdue’s offense this year.
What does this all mean? Purdue’s track record of 4-star recruits is undeniably bad! Hopefully O.J. Ross can be an exception to the otherwise poor history of 4-star Boilers on the gridiron.

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