The region plays some mean high school football and while Indiana University seems to have fallen asleep at the recruiting switch, Purdue won't let go.
Coach Danny Hope loves the toughness and commitment our kids bring to his program in West Lafayette and his 2011 roster shows that.
You'll find safety Albert Evans (Portage); 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle Kawann Short (EC Central); 6-5, 270-pound defensive tackle Ryan Isaac (Michigan City); 6-8, 306-pound offensive tackle Dennis Kelly (Marian Catholic); 6-7, 324-pound guard Connor Snapp (Valparaiso); and 6-4, 305-pound defensive tackle Michael Rouse III (Homewood-Flossmoor).
Listening to Hope speak about each, you feel he'd adopt them all if needed.
"Albert's really important to us as a player on the field. He's a sure tackler. He has a lot of game experience so we expect him to execute his line assignments to a degree of excellence," Hope said.
"He's a real tough guy who can back it up. All the guys we got from the region are tough guys. They represent the region very well."
Hope called Isaac the "surprise signing" of last year's freshman class and he knew why.
"Albert and Ryan had the same high school coach -- Craig Buzea -- and he's a tough guy, too," Hope said. "His players exemplify that."
Isaac recently bench-pressed 460 pounds. For his next trick, he'll rip the New York City phone book in half and tie a crowbar in knots.
"Tough guy. Loves football. He'd cut his right arm off for his coaches or teammates," Hope said.
Short was a beast in high school, particularly under the basket when playing hoops, but always had a teddy bear image in public.
He came to Purdue looking like the Michelin Man but has since "rebuilt" his body, according to Hope.
"Kawann's very, very athletic and changes directions well," Hope said. "He's a very good pass rusher for an inside guy and has the potential to be one of the top defensive tackles in the country.
"He's a better football player going into his junior year than Mike Neal was at that stage."
Only a sophomore, Snapp remains a promising "project" while Kelly is one of the biggest offensive linemen Hope has ever been around as a coach.
"He's one of those guys you'd want to pull in a foxhole with you. If a bar room brawl broke out, you'd want a Dennis Kelly on your side," Hope said.
Buzea also coached Rouse in his first year at H-F.
"I'm a big fan of his and he knows it," Hope said of Buzea. "He was the best thing that happened to Michael, who became a lot more physical player when his intensity level almost doubled."
Hear that, IU and Notre Dame?
There's a pipeline here with Purdue fingerprints all over it.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org