When the recruiting process started to go national for Indianapolis (Ind.) Brebeuf Jesuit defensive end Joe Strickland, he expected his days of playing football in his home-state were over. Those expectations changed in recent months, however, and Strickland announced his intentions to stay at home and play for Purdue on Thursday over finalists Indiana and Stanford.
“At the end of the day I didn’t think I’d end up in Indiana, but Stanford is like 20 hours away. I would never see my little brother play a basketball game,” Strickland said. “It’s more of a family-thing, me looking at it long term. Purdue is a great school and I’m taking an opportunity where I am an hour away from home. I am still in college and can at least see my brother play a basketball game.”
While the proximity to home played in Purdue’s favor, it was not the only factor – or even the most important one – in his decision.
“I’d say I chose Purdue because they are top ten in every major I am considering,” Strickland said. “Then, football-wise, I built very strong connections with coach (Domenic) Reno, the strength coach, the past five months. We’ve been talking about every day.
“Coach (Mark) Hagen, he’s the only coach in my final three I have been coached up by in a camp. He’s pretty blunt, and I like that. He hasn’t really changed, and that’s a cool factor for me.
“It’s really, at this point, a no-brainer.”
Another individual who played a role in Strickland’s decision to pick Purdue was current Boilermaker defensive end George Karlaftis, who hosted the Indianapolis four-star on his official visit last month.
“George’s situation is a little different from everybody just because he is a really elite player,” Strickland said. “His day-to-day is probably not the same as everyone’s, but he just explained how he got to where he is. I’d say he is pretty humble and he’s been texting me a lot – every other day at least. They give him the freedom to do his job because he does it well.”
Strickland is the second in-state four-star to commit to Purdue in the 2022 class, and could be looked upon to fill Karlaftis’ shoes at the defensive end position when he arrives in West Lafayette next year.
“Right when I graduate I am on the bottom of the board, even though I am on the top right now recruiting-wise,” Strickland said. “I’ll come in, put my head down and just grind, just like most in-state elite guys do.”