Checking in with ... Danny Hope, Part I
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Danny Hope flanked Joe Tiller's right side as Purdue took its team picture Thursday morning at Ross-Ade Stadium. A year from now, Hope will be right in the middle of the frame as he succeeds Tiller as Boilermakers head coach.
When I talked to Hope in the spring, he had only a bed and a chair in his new house. The place is fully furnished now, but he's still waiting for his wife, Sally, to move north from Kentucky. The solitude isn't ideal, but it has given Hope plenty of time to focus on Purdue's football future. The coach-in-waiting took some time Thursday to discuss the transition, his recruiting strategy and the outlook for the offensive linemen he'll coach this fall.
In terms of where you wanted to be at this point with the transition, are you on target?
Danny Hope: Absolutely. We got done what we needed to get done the first eight months. Obviously, we're very much involved with the recruiting process coming in, looked at several hundred tapes and came up with a great short list of recruits that we feel we have a chance to get that we want really bad. That was really important to us, to come up with a very large pool of top players we felt we had a chance to get, so we could weather through the attrition process of recruiting. We're much further ahead as far as what we have left in the pool to recruit than I thought we'd have at this point in time. That was our goal. That was a lot of work, man. The magnitude of that undertaking is something the average fan can't even begin to grasp.
Is it constantly looking at tape, constantly talking to coaches, just the gathering process or being out there?
DH: It's the gathering process of names and then the evaluation process and then getting into the recruiting process. We had to get into all three parts. Our goal was to be able to create a very large pool of top prospects who Purdue fits that we had a legitimate shot to get. And then weather through the other teams that want those types of players as well and still have a large number of players for us to recruit. We came out ahead on that. I feel good about the number of guys we're recruiting right now. I also got real involved with our academics because pretty soon, I'll be the head coach and academics is where it's at right now as far as the future of your football team. We made a lot of progress. We start the season with everyone eligible, and that's real exciting. The staff's really committed to it.
Does the type of player you're recruiting differ much from the type of player that Joe's been recruiting?
DH: I don't know because I haven't been here the last five years. Obviously, we have a lot of great players here and we'd like to bring in some more just like it and add to that, and attempt to get more special players, too. But when you start off with a big pool, you don't know what you're dealing with.
But are you looking for the same types of skills? I know you're going to keep a similar offensive structure.
DH: We have some really big, good receivers, more big, good receivers than I've ever been around on a football team, so I don't feel the need right now necessarily to get as many big receivers and maybe can go out and set our goals for a few quicker, faster guys for the inside positions because they've done such a good job bringing in the receivers you play on the edge with. Offensive line-wise, I'm trying to recruit more tackle-type prospects where maybe size is not the No. 1 factor and hang our hat more on speed and athleticism. I felt we had more of those types of guys the last time I was here with the Matt Lights and Brandon Gorins. I like to recruit just line prospects. Those are guys that are good enough to play on defense but are big enough to move to offense. That's a special pool of recruits. We have a nice pool of those guys. So there's maybe a few differences in what we're looking for, talent-wise, but we want to certainly recruit some more guys like the ones we have here.