Darrell Hazell, the first-year coach of the Boilermakers, intends to include Kentucky in the State of Purdue.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Darrell Hazell has several intriguing ideas to put the juice back into Purdue football. One item near the top of the list is to create The State of Purdue, a six-state recruiting region where the Boilermakers will find most of their players.
Indiana and Illinois headline the list. Ohio is also included.
So is Kentucky.
What is a state that is about to have strong ties with the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences doing on a list with all those states in Big Ten country? Louisville and Kentucky can't make it on Kentucky kids. Why is Purdue interested?
"Because it's so close and our tight end coach grew up there," Hazell said. "We have two coaches on our staff that played at Kentucky. Does that count?"
Sure. In recruiting, everything counts.
Here are the guys that Hazell is talking about: Tommy Cook, his supervisor of football operations and Gerad Parker, the Boilermakers' recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach.
Both guys played at Kentucky. Parker was UK's top football scholar athlete in 2004. Cook earned a degree in kinesiology at Kentucky in 2004, worked in surgical sales for more than four years and jumped into coaching.
There's another reason for Hazell to strengthen the Purdue-Kentucky connection: There is a history.
Three current Purdue players (Jesse Schmitt and Joey Warburg of Trinity and Trevor Foy of St. Xavier) are Louisville high school products.
If you roll video from past seasons, you'll uncover linebacker Dan Bick (St. X), defensive back Cris Dishman (DeSales), halfback Mike Northington (Thomas Jefferson), Henry Dudgeon as well as Walt and Phil Gahm.
I asked Hazell if he and his staff are working Kentucky for the Boilermakers' 2014 recruiting class.
"We are," he said.
"We're working at it," he said.
Hazell, for the record, is a native of New Jersey who made his name as an assistant coach at Ohio State. Purdue selected him to replace Danny Hope after Hazell won 16 of 26 games at Kent State.
Sounds like we're going to see Boilermaker coaches around town.