Of the few departures for Purdue heading into 2020 none may be as big of a loss as Brycen Hopkins who lead Purdue tight ends in receiving yards the last two seasons, but is now a member of the LA Rams. Despite such a huge loss, Purdue is ready to reload at the tight end position in what will be an interesting year to reset the tight end room for the next few seasons. Who will step in to the void? Let’s find out.
Payne Durham – Starter
Sophomore – 6’5” 255 lbs
With the departure of Brycen Hopkins the heir apparent to TE1 this season is without a doubt Payne Durham. In just 7 appearances last year, Durham recorded 9 receptions for 82 yards and 4 touchdowns. While the volume of receptions may cause some for concern the eye test is very much there for Payne. He moves well, blocks well, has solid hands and is above average for his size in making moves after catch. At least one of the touchdowns Payne had in 2019 was the result of some fantastic yards after catch against defensive backs. Look for Durham to be a prime target for the Boilers when they are just inside the red zone this season. Look for Purdue to potentially taper back their TE targets compared to last year, but look for similar efficiency from the position in 2020.
Garret Miller – Contributor
RS Freshman – 6’5” 255 lbs
Miller and Bilodeau were both able to maintain their redshirts in 2019 after both made contributions on special teams in 4 games or less and that leaves them poised for a position battle for the backup TE spot in 2020. Of the two of them I think Miller is more suited to being split out wide similar to Brycen Hopkins last year. He moves really well for his size and is used to playing at the highest levels of competition since he is from Texas and played at the highest levels there. If I were a betting man. I would give Miller the slight edge heading into 2020, but if it is an edge it is so every so slight it can be negligible.
Kyle Bilodeau – Contributor
RS Freshman – 6’5” 250 lbs
Bolideau is the other half of the TE2 battle and it is going to be a tight battle because Bilodeau has his own record of equal to Miller’s. Kyle attended Woodberry Academy in Virginia where he was an Army All-American and participated in the All-American Bowl and Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii. Bilodeau is no stranger to tough competition and the kind of pedigree that produces multiple High School bowl games is enough to not count him out. While I think Miller is best suited split out wide, I think Bilodeau will work better out of the in-line down TE position. A large portion of this is speculation because of the minimal action we have been able to see of the young tight ends.
Sophomore – 6’5” 250 lbs
Jack Cravaack and our next tight end are very interesting prospects at the tight end position because they are both transitioning from other positions. In Cravaack’s case he made the move from defensive line to tight end over the course of the last year or so. I think they specifically chose Cravaack because of how athletic he is, the size and demeanor he brings to the tight end position. While I definitely think Cravaack will get most of his run as a blocking tight end I would not be surprised to see Purdue throw him the ball out of heavy sets in 2020. While the tight end room isn’t burst at the seams I think Cravaack will be a very important addition to the room and the offense in 2020.
RS Freshman – 6’5” 230 lbs
As I mentioned above, the second person who changed positions to tight end is none other than Paul Piferi. Piferi made his way to Purdue originally as a Quarterback but as of last week it was made public that Piferi had made the transition and is working on bulking up to the weight needed to compete in the B1G as a tight end. Piferi without a doubt is going to be a wildcard at the tight end position in 2020, simply because of how incredibly athletic he is. If the former high school sprinter is able to keep his speed and athleticism as he gains weight who could be a real threat in the passing game. It would also be vintage Jeff Brohm for him to utilize Piferi in some trick plays in 2020 as a passer or threat to pass the ball.
Ben Buechel is a walk-on freshman from New Berlin, Wisconsin that will provide depth and scout looks this season.