Since taking the helm in 2017, Jeff Brohm and his coaching staff have taken the Purdue Boilermakers football program back to competitive relevance. Brohm boasted a 7-6 record in his first season and followed with a 6-7 campaign last year.
The 48-year-old head coach impressively led the Boilermakers to a 5-4 conference record in 2018, which was good for second place in the Big 10 West Division. The finish is the highest in program history dating back to the conference’s divisional realignment in 2013. It also marks as the first winning record in Big 10 play since 2006.
Fifth-year senior Elijah Sindelar is back at quarterback and will lead an offensive attack that features a Heisman Trophy candidate in sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore. Following former signal-caller David Blough’s graduation from the program, Sindelar, who suffered a torn left ACL in 2017 and also injured hyperextended the same knee earlier this spring, is presumably healthy.
Sindelar has been a part of Brohm’s system since its inception and will step into an offense that ranked only behind Iowa in the Big 10 West in scoring. Purdue’s 30.5 points per game average last season was the most since 2007, and their 443.9 yards of total offense per game was the program’s best since 2004.
Moore will again be the center of attention for the Boilermakers, as the consensus All-American led the Big 10 in total yards (1,258), touchdowns (12) and reeled in 114 receptions, which led all of college football and was also 12 more than the next best player in the category. Redshirt juniors Jared Sparks and Jackson Anthrop join Moore as returning receivers, but the Boilermakers will fill out the rest of their depth chart at the position with freshman. Newcomers David Bell, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, and Milton Wright are both ranked as four-star recruits by 24/7 Sports.
One position that is primed to take advantage of the attention Moore will command is the tight ends consisting of redshirt senior Brycen Hopkins and redshirt freshman Payne Durham. Hopkins averaged a team-high 17.1 yards per reception last season and brought in the second-most receptions (34) among returners.
The current running back class will be carried by underclassmen, as redshirt sophomore Alexander Hovarth is slated to begin the year as the starter. Hovarth will be backed up by freshman King Doerue and freshman Da’Joun Hewitt following what is said to be a “significant injury” suffered to fifth-year senior Tario Fuller during a scrimmage.
Fuller’s injury is accompanied by a standout returning player on the other side of the ball in Lorenzo Neal. There are limited updates available about Neal’s injury, but his status for the opener against Nevada will be up in the air until kickoff.
Neal hopes to be healthy for a 2019 Boilermakers unit that is coming off a difficult season. Defensively, Purdue ranked 11th of 14 in the conference at points allowed per game at an even 30.
However, nine starters are returning to the defense and the group will benefit from the addition of George Karlaftis, who is a five-star true freshman recruit on the defensive line. Purdue expects to bounce back after ranking second-worst in total defense in the conference.
The Boilermakers open their 2019 season on the road against the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday, August 30. They then host three consecutive home games beginning with Vanderbilt on September 7, TCU September 14 and, following a bye week, kick-off conference play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 28.
On top of Minnesota, Purdue’s Big 10 opponents in 2019 consist of @Penn State, Maryland, @Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, @Northwestern, @Wisconsin, and Indiana. The Boilermakers are looking to reach three consecutive bowl games for the first time since the Joe Tiller era, where the program reached eight consecutively from 1997-2004.