Hazell finds fit with first Purdue class

Coach Darrell Hazell and the Boilermakers got a little closer to success with their incoming recruiting class.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- Put aside the star ratings and rankings that Scout's team of experts works year-round to compile. For Darrell Hazell's first full Purdue recruiting class, fit is what matters the most.

With this class, Hazell has identified the group of players he believes can bring Purdue in the right direction. His recruits come from all across the country with different backgrounds in the game of football. Collectively, this bunch of Boilermakers has the traits Hazell demands to build a winner.

"This class is special in many ways," said Hazell with a smile, addressing his class with the assembled media.

Purdue's class of 18 recruits ranked toward the bottom of the Big Ten rankings, with no four-star prospects. If rankings are your thing, this isn't one to write home about. But for Hazell and the Boilermakers, the most important thing to accomplish with this class was filling needs.

The 1-11 season proved Purdue had plenty of voids to fill. Hazell came in to West Lafayette looking to build a style of play—tough, disciplined, nasty football. Danny Hope didn't leave him the personnel to make that happen.

With these new Boilermakers, a different demeanor will be instilled within the team.

"Anytime you're trying to build a program, you've got to have guys that can fight through a little adversity, that are not only physically tough but mentally tough," Hazell said.

"You've got to recruit toughness to your program."

With players like Corey Clements and Martesse Patterson working with the Boilermakers' beleaguered offensive line, Purdue can begin to build a physical rushing attack and win the line of scrimmage. The other key need was at linebacker, where Purdue sought playmakers. Both Gelen Robinson and JaWhaun Bentley project out to be starters in their first years.

It's more than just physical toughness, though. Hazell wants to bring a winning attitude to the Purdue program, something that's certainly missing after a crippling year one of "Reshape, Rebuild, Return."

This class saw its share of losses, six to be exact after Miguel Machado gave Purdue a tough punch on Signing Day. But the Boilermakers entering the program are proud of their new program and eager to make it better.

Commits like Kirk Barron and David Blough were some of the first to join the class, sticking with it through new offers and an adverse season. They had reason to leave, but stood by the Boilermakers.

Barron joked about becoming one of the "founding fathers" of Purdue's recruiting class. This writer once used the term "pioneer" in a column. Whatever the word, this is what the Boilermakers need.

To build a winner, it takes a true commitment from the entire team—players who want to be in the program, who buy in with the coaches' philosophies, and who believe that winning the Rose Bowl is a reality. These are the players that fit what Hazell wants in his Purdue program.

Darrell Hazell brought Purdue a few bricks higher with his first recruiting class.

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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