Purdue is set to hire Graham Harrell as its offensive coordinator, the first major move under new coach Ryan Walters, a source told ESPN on Thursday.
Harrell, 37, spent the 2022 season as West Virginia‘s offensive coordinator, after three years in the same role at USC. A record-setting quarterback for the late Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Harrell began his coaching career under Leach at Washington State before landing his first coordinator role at North Texas in 2014.
Purdue hired Walters on Tuesday to replace Jeff Brohm, who left for the head-coaching job at Louisville, his alma mater. Walters, who previously worked as Illinois‘ defensive coordinator, is the first coach with a defensive background Purdue has hired since Leon Burtnett in 1982.
“There’s this misnomer out there where you’re a defensive-minded head coach and all of a sudden you’ll be seeing the Power-I,” Walters told ESPN on Wednesday. “I know what [defensive coordinators] don’t want to see on game days, and that’s offenses that will push the envelope, that will take some vertical shots down the field, that get creative in the run game, that provide you different pictures out of different personnel groupings, that have the ability to control the tempo, whether it’s fast or slow.
“Those are all things that we, as defensive coordinators, hate to see, so that’s what I want our offense to do.”
West Virginia averaged 30.6 points per game this season, and Harrell’s USC offenses ranked in the top 20 nationally in passing in all three seasons he coached there.
Purdue will be replacing several of its top offensive players, including quarterback Aidan O’Connell, wide receiver Charlie Jones and tight end Payne Durham, who all announced earlier Thursday that they will opt out of the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl against LSU. Two quarterbacks Harrell coached, JT Daniels and Kedon Slovis, are in the transfer portal. Daniels played for WVU this season, while Slovis was USC’s primary quarterback throughout Harrell’s time there.