Its been an off-season of turnovers for the tight end group.
Purdue’s former tight end coach Mark Tommerdahl left after just one season to become the associate head coach at Texas Tech University. Along with the departure of cornerbacks coach Derrick Jackson to Northern Illinois to take on the role of defensive coordinator for the Huskies, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm was left with roles to fill this off season.
Brohm was quickly able to hire a replacement for Jackson, Auburn’s Greg Brown, but he still has not hired a replacement for Tommerdahl.
“We’re going to wait until after the spring to get that done,“ Brohm said. “Ryan Wallace, who really worked with our tight ends the last couple of years, he’s been with me for a long time. He’s basically been designated as the guy on the field to work with our tight ends so we can coach them. He’s done a good job.”
After the graduation of senior receiver Cole Herdman, Purdue will have to rely on the rest of the tight ends to step up. Herdman had 18 receptions and recorded 196 yards in the 2018 season. He was the leader of the position and left big shoes to fill. However, the tight end group for the Boilers is talented, versatile and should have no problem transitioning into bigger roles.
Purdue returns fifth-year senior Brycen Hopkins who excels in the receiving game. He appeared in 13 games last year and caught 34 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged a team-high 17.1 yards per reception and was a constant threat for a big play all season long.
“We feel great about (Hopkins) hopefully having a productive year,“ Brohm said. “We got to make sure we get him the ball and utilize him.”
Additionally, the group has redshirt freshman, Payne Durham, who is known as an excellent blocker. Durham appeared in only two games last year, but will be a great asset in the upcoming season.
“I think he’s doing a great job adjusting to this offense,” Hopkins said. “He doesn’t have a lot of football experience, kind of like me when I came in. I understand where he’s at, but I think he’s handling it very well.”
The Boilermakers are hoping Durham can improve his receiving skills throughout the spring so he can see the field more in the fall.
The group is also home to junior Darius Pittman, who Brohm described as “more of a halfback.” Pittman only caught one pass in the 2018 season, but Purdue is confident he will take the next step during the off-season and next fall.
The group is very experienced and should be a strength for the Boilers next year.
“They’ve all worked hard,” Brohm said. “They all can contribute, and we’re going to use all of them.”