PREP BEAT

JIM PETERS: Robinson commit could be a recruiting catalyst for Purdue

2013-07-10T18:00:00Z 2013-07-10T23:08:06Z JIM PETERS: Robinson commit could be a recruiting catalyst for PurdueJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 10, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

When Cody Zeller chose to attend Indiana a few years ago, it provided the jolt of credibility that basketball coach Tom Crean needed, the 'get' that convinced other recruits that the Hoosiers were to be taken seriously once again.

Zeller left for the NBA after two years, but IU has returned to national relevance and is a player in the pursuit of prized prospects not only in the state but across the country.

The commitment of Lake Central's Gelen Robinson could mean the same for Purdue football, proof that new Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell and his staff mean business in their efforts to extract the program from the dregs of mediocrity.

Recently, Purdue beat out the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Florida and Oklahoma to gain the services of gigantic offensive lineman Denzel Ward. It also picked up invaluable exposure on ESPN with the stellar  performance of quarterback commit David Blough in the Elite 11.

That momentum may well have blunted had Robinson not opted to wear the Old Gold and Black. He's one of the top players in the state and Purdue needed to swing the big hammer in its own backyard.

If Purdue didn't get him other recruits would still likely think twice about West Lafayette. With him in the fold, they're thinking that something big is cooking down by the Wabash River.

Robinson's list of offers was headlined by Vanderbilt and Missouri, and was undoubtedly going to grow in quality and quantity. At 6-foot-1, he's viewed as a bit of a tweener by schools that weren't sure where he was going to end up on the field. With a few more inches, he figured to draw interest from everybody.

Robinson certainly knew that. He could have waited a while, well aware that Purdue was still going to be there for him down the road. The fact that he made his decision now speaks volumes to his faith in what Hazell has in mind for the Boilermakers.

Purdue has done well to be average in recent years, either making it to a lower-tier bowl game sponsored by a pizza or getting crushed when it stepped up in class, as exemplified by the 58-14 beatdown at the hands of Oklahoma State last season in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. 

A middle of the road team that could compete with the big boys now and again but could lose to about anybody on any given Saturday — that's where Purdue was at and that's where it was going to stay, without making a change. Enthusiasm comes with all coaching moves, but there seems to be more than just a simple excitement surrounding the new Boilermakers regime.

Ward, Blough and now Robinson seem to believe that something special is on the brink of happening at Purdue and they want to be in on the ground floor. Like Zeller and company in Bloomington, they aspire to be the group that gets the train back on the tracks and building steam again.

Time well tell, short term, in recruiting, and long term, on the field, but having Robinson in the fold bodes well for the future of Purdue football.

This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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