Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's hardly uncommon for teams located outside Florida to raid the state for top prep talent. Every SEC head coach does it, and so do their colleagues from the ACC, Big East and even Big Ten.
But Purdue? The Boilermakers haven't had much Florida flavor in recent years.
That's about to change.
Purdue picked up its 15th verbal commitment for the 2009 class on Thursday, as linebacker Antwon Higgs said he was coming to West Lafayette. Higgs, a native of Pompano Beach, Fla., is the 11th player from the Sunshine State to pick Purdue and new coach Danny Hope, a Miami native who has recruited Florida for decades. Earlier this week, Hope landed another Floridian, heralded running back Al-Terek McBurse.
Hope told me before the season that he was looking to bring different types of players to Purdue. Speed would be a bigger priority than size, and Florida would become a major recruiting base.
You have some ties in Florida. I know you've already gotten a couple of commitments from the state. How important are those ties for the future?
Danny Hope: It will be a factor that'll impact the program and make a difference in the future of Purdue football. No question in my mind. When I was at Eastern Kentucky as a head coach, we had 18 guys on our football team [who grew up] within an hour and a half away from Orlando International Airport, and we only had 63 scholarships. There's a lot of guys that are good enough to play. But we're trying to find people that can come in and make a difference. We'll start off with that.
Though it's not surprising that he has looked to Florida for talent, the sheer number of Floridians in Hope's first class is staggering.