Purdue Football 2021: Position Previews – Secondary

The Purdue secondary should be as good as it has been since Brohm arrived back in 2017 and will have a pair of new coaches at the front of the room.  Ron English makes his way to Purdue as a co-DC and safety coach with many years of experience in the Big Ten and SEC, while Jamesl Adams will coach the corners and is a disciple of Brad Lambert’s, having spent eight years with him starting Charlotte’s program.  As a part of Brohm’s directive for the defense to be more aggressive, Purdue has been running alot of press-man coverage at the corner position, after years of being dinked and donked for short yard gains under soft coverage.  It’s a high risk, high reward situation and will make for some intense fifty-fifty ball situations this fall.  Over the top, the safety position is absolutely stacked, maybe to the point we will see one of the safeties play some at corner where depth could be a concern.  

Cam Allen – Starter 

Heading into 2020, Cam Allen, the big brawler from West Virginia, was slated to start at Free Safety with big expectations after a great true freshman season in 2019, and boy did he deliver.  In 6 games last year Allen had 27 tackles, 22 solo, 2 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery and 2 interceptions.  That’s some efficiency.  At 6’1” 195 lbs, Allen flies around and truly plays bigger than himself and consistently delivers the pain to opposing receivers.  Heading into his third year on the team, expectations are sky high and should be a force on the back end in 2021.  Depending on how the season goes, Cam Allen could be a sleeper for leaving early for the NFL draft this season, so enjoy the bone crushing hits while they last. 

Cory Trice – Starter 

Cory Trice drops into coverage at Northwestern in 2019

Trice burst on to the scene in 2019 against Maryland when he had a pick six before the end of the first half to create a huge momentum swing.  Trice would go on to record three picks in 2019 and came into 2020 as Purdue’s top corner.  Last year Trice recorded 31 tackles, 27 solo, 1 tackle for loss and 2 passes defended.  Trice has moved into a leader role on the back end for the Boilers, and reports out of camp are that he is poised to have a huge season this fall. At 6’3” 215 lbs, Trice has prototypical NFL size and will be a problem for opposing offenses all season long. 

Dedrick Mackey – Starter

Dedrick Mackey picks off the Commodore offense against Vanderbilt in 2019

Nobody in Purdue’s secondary has more experience than 5th year senior Dedrick Mackey.  Over the past three seasons Mackey has participated in 31 games, including 15 starts.  During those appearances he has recorded 64 tackles, 54 solo, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 interceptions and 11 passes defended.  At 5’11” 190 lbs he is a bit undersized, which could be an issue in more press man coverages we expect to see out of the Boilers corners this year.  But despite his size he has performed pretty well on fifty-fifty balls in the past, something that is make or break in press man coverage.  Expectations will be for Mackey to start, but will likely be pushed this season by transfer Jamari Brown.  

Marvin Grant – Starter

Marvin Grant came to Purdue as an extremely touted Safety out of Detroit proper and his presence was immediately known as he was rotating at safety with Jalen Graham his freshman year, but an injury ultimately ended that campaign.  Last year, Grant appeared in 4 games, recorded 14 tackles, 13 solo and 3 tackles for loss on the year, including a huge forced fumble at Illinois.  Grant is a guy the coaching staff is very confident in with his physical skills, but has had some issues with the playbook.  Heading into year 3 in the program, Grant is slated to start on Saturday according to Brohm so it appears those playbook issues should be resolved.  With Grant and Allen starting at the safety positions, the Boilers will have big enforcer and heavy hitters on the back end ready to lay waste to tight ends and shots over the middle.  Look for Grant to have a more consistent role at the safety position this year.

Jamari Brown – Contributor

Jamari Brown makes his way to Purdue after transferring from Kentucky this past offseason.  Brown will be looking to push 5th year senior Dedrick Mackey for significant playing time at the corner position.  During his career at Kentucky, Brown saw action in 15 games, including 3 starts over the two seasons he participated.  In 2020 Brown dealt with a hamstring injury that only allowed him to play in four games and was reportedly banged up for a portion of fall camp this year.  At 6’3” 205 lbs, Brown is big and has excellent speed for his size and will get some snaps come Saturday.  I think the biggest question for Brown will be if he can stay healthy and how quickly he can catch up given his missed time during camp.

Sanoussi Kane – Contributor

Sanoussi Kane is coming off a true freshman season where he participated in all 6 games as a reserve, predominately on special teams.  Kane was a freshman that was tagged early by the coaching staff as someone they believed could contribute very early in his career last year.  Now with a season under his belt, the Harlem native should be getting some reps at the safety position and potentially even some action at corner should he be needed.  Kane is an athletic freak and came in with a body ready to play at the Power 5 level.  At 6’0” 205 lbs, he is definitely on the bigger side of the secondary.  Sanoussi is definitely on my breakout watch list this fall. 

Chris Jefferson – Contributor

Of all the transfers Purdue has brought in this off season, Chris Jefferson might be the most interesting prospect.  Jefferson makes his way to Purdue via University of Findlay in Ohio, a D2 program.  Now you might be saying, “wait a minute here, Purdue is bringing in D2 players?”, but this ain’t just any D2 player.  Jefferson was an All-American at the D2 level in both 2019 and 2020.  So what kind of stats make a D2 All-American?  Well, during those two seasons Jefferson recorded a staggering 11 interceptions, 87 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.  I expect Jefferson will do some rotating in at the free safety position behind Cam Allen this year, since this is where he is accustomed to playing and a perfect bird’s nest for this certified ballhawk.  The question will be can this translate to the Power 5 level?  Reports out of camp seem to indicate that he is poised and ready to roll for the Boilers.  Excited to see this one take the field come Saturday.

Anthony Romphf – Potential Contributor

During the 2020 recruiting cycle. Purdue was able to get a late addition from Romphf as an athlete.  Romphf for the longest time was committed to FAU to play QB for Lane Kiffin, but ultimately decommitted once Kiffin left for Ole Miss and ended up following his teammate Bryce Austin to Purdue.  Purdue has had success with former high school QB’s in the secondary, Cam Allen and Jalen Graham both played the position in high school.  The staff really like Romphf’s athleticism and speed, so I suspect we may see him get some time at the nickel position.  With Purdue’s lack of depth at corner, I also think he will see some significant snaps.  I believe Romphf retaining his redshirt last year will prove to be very fruitful in a few years, and provides a great starting point for him this season.

Reserves/Redshirts: Zane Greene, Antonio Stevens, Ryan Brandt, Nyles Beverly, Jah’von Grigsby, Brandon Calloway, Ricky Smith, Hayden Ellinger

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