McGehee pledges to Purdue

Purdue landed its specialist and kicker/punter Austin McGehee gave the Boilermakers' his verbal pledge on Friday.

Late Thursday afternoon, Austin McGehee and his father planned a road trip to West Lafayette, visiting a Purdue program which offered the specialist one day prior. The kicking/punting specialist was traveling to give his verbal commitment.

McGehee quickly phoned Purdue's Darrell Hazell and set a Friday morning visit, just barely beating the head coach's vacation. The experience on campus was enough to make McGehee the Boilermakers' sixth verbal pledge.

"It's the greatest feeling on earth," McGehee said of his verbal commitment. "It's surreal."

With the way the week's events went, surreal may be an understatement. It's not often that a specialist receives a scholarship offer, and for McGehee, the Boilermakers' offer caught him by a surprise. An unexpected phone call from Hazell put Purdue on the board—making it the hands-down favorite.

Purdue made it a priority to add a kicking and punting specialist for its 2014 class, but McGehee would have initially seemed like a longshot. The Pine Bluff, Arkansas native made an appearance on the Boilermakers' recruiting radar just recently.

"They wanted to offer a Midwest kid, but when they saw my film and got a recommendation, they had to offer me," McGehee said. "I'm glad they did."

As a high school junior, McGehee was First-Team All-State in Arkansas as he hit 14 of 18 field goals and went 66 of 68 on extra point attempts. He also averaged 44.1 yards per punt and put 61 of his 70 kickoffs into the end zone. McGehee works with kicking guru Chris Sailer, who rates him as a 4.5-star prospect.

After receiving the offer on Wednesday, McGehee looked ahead to a potential visit, but even he didn't think it would happen on Friday. Still, there's nothing like a good road trip.

"I thought it would be a week or two [before visiting]," said McGehee. "My dad woke up and we said we'd go see it. I went and I loved it. I didn't hesitate to commit."

While on campus, McGehee toured the academic and athletic facilities while meeting with the players and coaching staff. It was during a meeting with Hazell where he gave the verbal pledge to Purdue.

"I liked it so I had no complaints," McGehee said. "I liked everything about it. There was nothing negative. My parents loved it. I committed."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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