It has been a great spring for the Purdue Boilermakers and that is without factoring in anything that happened during the recently wrapped practice sessions. It started when head coach Jeff Brohm, after turning down overtures to return to Louisville, his alma mater, signed a seven-year, $36.8 million contract extension to remain in West Lafayette. That was followed shortly after the news that quarterback Elijah Sindelar had been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
A redshirt junior, Sindelar now has two years of eligibility remaining, which means Purdue theoretically could be set at quarterback in 2019 and '20, Sindelar has dealt with significant injuries during his Boilermakers tenure, including suffering a torn ACL in November 2017, although he continued to play. He only appeared in two games last season due to tendinitis in his surgically repaired knee. Sindelar also shared quarterback duties with David Blough these past few seasons, but with Blough no longer on the roster, the job appears to be Sindelar's. He missed some time this spring after hyperextending his knee but it's not believed to be a serious injury.
So with the waiver decision behind him, Sindelar can now set his sights on getting ready for the upcoming season. Even though Sindelar has two years of eligibility remaining, he has indicated his dream is to play in the NFL. A breakout season would increase the chances of him considering declaring early for the draft. Such a development would likely mean good things for the Boilermakers as well with Sindelar expected to be the triggerman for Brohm's offense.
But before there's any talk about next year, here are four reasons why Sindelar's presence behind center could lead to more success for Purdue football in 2019.
1. Stability under center
Knowing who the starter will (potentially) be for the next couple of years is certainly a relief to Brohm and the offensive coaching staff. And as he continues to leave his stamp on the football program, having a QB who not only knows his offense from top to bottom, but has applied that knowledge on the field could perhaps lead Brohm's Boilermakers to another seven- or eight-win season. With Sindelar (before injury) and Blough sharing the QB duties last year, the Boilermakers scored 30 or more points in seven of their 13 games. That trend should continue with Sindelar as the lone starter, especially with guys like Athlon Sports Preseason All-American wide receiver Rondale Moore to throw to.
Since 2016, Sindelar has played in 19 games with nine starts. Even with the knee issues, Sindelar has had plenty of reps under center and is ready to take on the full job with Blough now moving onto the next phase of his life. The other quarterbacks on Purdue's roster have combined for two pass attempts on the collegiate level. So it's pretty safe to assume the job is Sindelar's, provided he can stay on the field. When healthy, Sindelar has a strong arm, displays good accuracy, as well as pocket presence. He's also armed with the knowledge of Brohm's extensive playbook.
In 19 games, Sindelar has completed 227 of 405 passes for 2,547 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. That's a solid foundation to build from as he enters his first season as the full-time starter. Some of his more memorable games include throwing for a career-high 396 yards and four touchdowns (despite having already torn his ACL) to lead the Boilermakers to a victory over Arizona in the 2017 Foster Farms Bowl. In three games against Big Ten West rival Northwestern, Sindelar has thrown for 652 yards and three scores. Purdue has a strong history of quarterbacks and Sindelar is well positioned to be the next great Boilermakers signal-caller.
4. Sindelar is among a rare breed this season
With Sindelar, Purdue is one of just four Big Ten West programs (Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota) that returns its season-opening starter from 2018. Illinois, Northwestern, and Wisconsin are all breaking in new starters this fall. So despite the injuries, Sindelar gives the Boilermakers an experienced field general, which can't be overlooked when competing in the rugged Big Ten.