Purdue football inside linebacker breakdown: O.C. Brothers becomes defensive leader

Lafayette Journal & Courier
WEST LAFAYETTE − Purdue football is transitioning into a defense that coordinator Kevin Kane says will be the one outlier on most team's schedules, comparing it to teams having to scheme for Navy's triple option offense.
Inside linebackers are at the center of this unique defense that, granted with different personnel, was one of the nation's best at Illinois last season, ultimately earning Ryan Walters his first head coaching job at Purdue.
It's a position group without much in terms of in-game experience, but aided by returning starter O.C. Brothers, who has switched from jersey No. 20 to No. 8, his old high school number.
The inside linebackers are led by Kane, which Brothers believes is a benefit to the group having the coordinator in charge of their daily drills.
Here's a deeper dive into Purdue's inside linebackers for the 2023 season.
The inside linebacker group is comprised of two true freshmen, three redshirt freshmen and a redshirt sophomore. Then there's senior Brothers and Clyde Washington.
More:Purdue football quarterback breakdown: Who is behind Hudson Card?
"Coming into this year, especially as a linebacker, I am the oldest guy in the room," said Brothers, now in his fifth season. "… I really took it upon myself to try to lead the young guys, even if they’re not in my position group, just lead freshmen, sophomores, everybody who just got here."
Washington has 21 career tackles and saw his most extensive playing time last season, getting into nine games, including his first career start against Wisconsin, and returning an interception 15 yards against Nebraska.
Brothers had 42 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery last season.
"The best defenses anybody’s ever been around are player led," Kane said. "We need leaders on this defense. O.C. needs to be one of those guys."
Yanni Karlaftis
The younger brother of former Purdue defensive end and current Kansas City Chiefs standout George Karlaftis has been in a limited role the past two seasons.
Former West Lafayette High School standout Yanni Karlaftis, who missed most of his final season of high school in 2020 with an injury, may now have carved out his role in Kane's scheme.
"Yanni Karlaftis has kind of taken steps every day from the spring until now," Kane said.
Karlaftis had four tackles and half a sack last season.
Also in the mix
Two other names getting inside linebacker reps are Domanick Moon, a redshirt freshman from Fort Wayne, and freshman Owen Davis.
Davis was a two-way star at North Union High (Ohio), rushing for more than 1,000 yards in addition to racking up 91 tackles, 14 for loss, five sacks and four forced fumbles a year ago.

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