Purdue Football 2021: Position Previews – Tight Ends

Heading into 2021, Purdue should have one of the better tight end rooms in the Big Ten and have the depth that they had back in 2018.  Payne Durham is the unquestioned #1 TE and Garrett Miller would appear to be #2 and should feature more multi-TE sets like they have in the past.  With an arsenal of wide receivers on the outside, the tight end often gets lost in the wash, but is one of the most important positions for the offense to be successful in Brohm’s offense and in gashing opposing defenses.  Let’s take a look:

Payne Durham – Starter

After the departure of Brycen Hopkins in 2019, Payne Durham filled the role of TE1 seamlessly for the Boilers in 2020. Durham finished the season with 16 catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns over the six games.  We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that should actually be 17 catches and 4 touchdowns if it weren’t for a phantom PI call at Minnesota.  Purdue will continue to be a tight end friendly offense in 2021 as the rising junior will look to continue where he left off in 2020 and put up similar numbers to Hopkins’ 62 receptions, 830 yards and 7 touchdown performance in 2019. Expect Durham to push for All-Big Ten tight end in 2021 and then lead the Big Ten in 2022 should his progression continue.  

Garret Miller – Contributor

Garrett Miller completes his first career reception and rumbles 40 yards for the touchdown against Northwestern in 2020. (Photo Credit: Purdue Athletics)

Going into 2020, Miller and Bilodeau were in a battle to see who would be TE2 behind Durham, and it appears Miller won that battle as he appeared in all six games and caught two passes for 48 total yards, 40 of them coming on his first career catch for a touchdown against Northwestern.  Assuming his progression has continued, Purdue may bring back more of their two TE sets that they utilized back in 2018 when they had both Hopkins and Cole Herdman as viable options. 

Paul Piferi – Potential Contributor

Piferi made his way to Purdue originally as a Quarterback but has since transitioned to tight end and bulked up at least 20 lbs over the past two seasons..  Piferi without a doubt is going to be a wildcard at the tight end position in 2021, simply because of how incredibly athletic he is.  If the former high school sprinter was able to keep his speed and athleticism after bulking up he could be a real threat in the passing game, but what remains to be seen is how he has handled the transition in a game.  At the very least expect Piferi to be a contributor on special teams this season.

Kyle Bilodeau – Potential Contributor

After appearing in four games as a freshman, it appears Bilodeau lost the position battle with Garrett Miller for TE2 in 2020 as he didn’t see any action.  The former 4-star has a big hill to climb in 2021 with the addition of Paul Piferi to the tight end room last season.  In all likelihood I think we will see Bilodeau as a contributor on special teams primarily or in red zone situations in heavy sets in 2021.

Jack Cravaack – Reserve 

In 2020 Cravaack appeared in  just three games, all on special teams.  This will likely be the case in 2021 for the former defensive end, and like Bilodeau could be utilized in redzone heavy sets.  Expect to see Cravaack used primarily on special teams this fall.

Drew Biber – Redshirt

True freshman Drew Biber made his way to Purdue from Cedarburg High School in Cedarburg, Wisconsin where he often played split out wide like a true wide receiver.  At 6’5” 225 lbs, Biber has good height but will likely need time to put on some weight and get up to Big Ten level size.  Biber also played basketball in high school and has good handwork, something that I’m sure was a draw for Purdue to offer him late in 2020.    

Ben Buechel is a walk-on that will provide depth and scout looks this season.

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