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Tyvel Jemison might have been last to sign, but he's certainly not last on Purdue's football recruiting wish list.
The Bishop Luers defensive back standout figures to have a good chance to make early impact as new coach Darrell Hazell and his staff look to quickly return the Boilers to the ranks of Big Ten contenders.
Jemison was one of 23 players to sign with the Boilers on Wednesday, the first day of the official signing period.
New secondary coach Jon Heacock hasn't been on the job long, but he quickly picked up on one of the 5-10, 175-pound Jemison's biggest attributes -- the fact he played on four state championships for Luers.
“He's a guy with ball skills,” Heacock said. “He's able to intercept balls. You talk to his coaches and they say, 'Coach, you're gonna love him. He plays hard. He tackles. He works hard. The game is important to him. We're excited to have him.”
Jemison is a three-star prospect ranked as the state's No.10 player and the No. 52 cornerback nationally by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service. Last season he had 81 tackles and five interceptions. As a junior he had 67 tackles, including eight for loss and forced three fumbles.
Jemison is one of three cornerbacks signed. The others are Da'Wan Hunte and Leroy Clark, both of Florida.
“You look at all of them and they can return the ball and take the ball the distance,” Heacock said. “They can go up and intercept the ball. They have vision on the ball. They can go make a play. These guys can do some incredible things.”
Beyond that, Heacock said, “They have the ability to (defend the run) because they're tough. They will hit you. They all have an ability to cover, which is a blessing.
“I'm not sure they all couldn't play safety, and then we got a safety (Austin Logan of Florida) who can play corner.
“These guys have the ability to play different positions.”
That versatility personifies what Hazell wanted in his first recruiting class. He's still evaluating the returning players – his top priorities since getting the job in December were hiring a staff and recruiting – and wanted lots of player options.
“We think it's a very unique class,” Hazell said. “If you study them, the thing that you see is it's a hybrid class. We have a lot of guys who can play different positions. We have corners who can play safety, and safeties who can play corner. We have a lot of linebackers who can put their hands in the dirt, a lot of D-linemen who can stand up and play on their feet.
“On the offensive end we have running backs who can play in the slot. We have a tight end we can detach from the formation and get to the outside. It will be an amazing class.”
“Amazing” has this caveat -- Rivals.com ranks this class No. 55 nationally and No. 10 in the Big Ten.
Because of his late start, Hazell had to balance the committed players from former coach Danny Hope along with new players he and his staff would find.
“We decided we would take 10 guys. We wanted to have a Midwestern flavor, so we looked at Ohio; we looked at Indiana; we looked at Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan. We went after it pretty hard.”
Of those 10, four were from Ohio, two were from Illinois and Florida, and one each from Kentucky and Indiana.
Overall the Boilers signed five from Ohio, Georgia and Florida; three from Indiana and Illinois; and one from Kentucky and Texas.
Hazell's top priority after getting the job was to secure committed quarterback Danny Etling. The Terre Haute South standout was the class's only four-star player. Rivals.com rated him as the nation's No. 9 pro-style quarterback.
“He was my very first stop,” Hazell said. “He's a very mature guy, well beyond his years. He's very focused. He knows what he wants. He'll be a great player for us.”
Etling was one of 25 high school quarterbacks to participate in last summer's Elite 11 camp in California. As a South senior, despite battling injuries, he threw for 1,505 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Getting him was most important,” Hazell said of his recruiting. “You can't win without quarterbacks. He was the best in the state. He was the best in the Midwest. You look at the history of Purdue, and this is the perfect place for a quarterback.”
Etling is already enrolled at Purdue. He's participating in winter workouts and will compete in spring practice, which will help as he battles veteran Rob Henry for the starting job.
“The first thing I noticed about him was he can sling the ball and is a great facilitator,” offensive coordinator John Shoop said. “He's got two things you can't compromise on – he's accurate and he's intelligent. We'll surround him with great players and he'll be able to facilitate.
“You have to have quick feet and a good center of gravity. He always has his shoulders over his feet and his feet under his shoulders. He's never off-balance. It will be my privilege to work with him.”
Etling highlights what Hazell said will be a renewed emphasis on in-state recruiting.
“We've got to do a great job of cultivating the whole state. We'll go after every player we think can help us win championships.”