Transfer wide receivers Charlie Jones, Tyrone Tracy to fill holes in Purdue offense in 2022

With David Bell and Milton Wright no longer in the mix, the Boilermakers will turn to two former Hawkeyes in the passing game.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. catches a pass during a football game between Iowa and Maryland at Maryland Stadium on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins 51-14. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue football’s receiving corps is going to look a lot different in 2022 than it did in 2021.

The Boilermakers lost their top two receiving options during the offseason. David Bell moved on to a professional career with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Milton Wright was ruled academically ineligible in May, and he’s no longer an active member of Purdue’s roster.

The Boilermakers filled the holes left by Wright and Bell’s departures via the transfer portal, landing former Iowa wide receivers Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy.

Tracy, who is from Indiana, entered the transfer portal in December. Jones followed Tracy’s lead in May.

Jones was the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year in 2021. He amassed 920 yards and a touchdown across a combined 63 punt and kick return attempts.

As a receiver, Jones hauled in 21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns.

“We were fortunate enough to get Charlie Jones on our football team, who’s played a lot of really good football,” Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said Wednesday. “He’s done great things on special teams. He’s a young man who’s come in here, he’s been here all summer for us, and he’s really a good football player. So, I think he’ll play a great role in our offense, playing on the outside at receiver, playing on the inside, and returning kicks.”

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm speaks on the main podium during day two of Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday, July 27, 2022. Brohm spoke briefly about former Iowa wide receivers Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy Jr., saying Tracy Jr. would play this season in the backfield and at wide receiver. The event marked the 50th annual Big Ten Media Days. (Jerod Ringwald)

Brohm added that Jones already has good rapport with starting quarterback Aidan O’Connell. The pair played youth football together in eastern Illinois. O’Connell was quarterback of their team and Jones was his primary target.

“Like Tyrone, he’s a dynamic playmaker who’s also very smart” O’Connell said. “He’s in his sixth year, so he’s played a lot of football at a few different universities, and he’s seen a lot of different things, a lot of different defenses … He’s fast. He can straight up just move. So, we’re going to need him to make plays, put him in different positions, and hopefully create some mismatches.”

Purdue quarterback Aiden O’Connell speaks during day two of Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday, July 27, 2022. The event marked the 50th annual Big Ten Media Days. (Jerod Ringwald)

Tracy grew up in the Indianapolis area — fewer than 100 miles from West Lafayette. In three full seasons with the Hawkeyes, Tracy played in 38 games, catching 66 balls for 871 yards and five touchdowns.

Tracy was also somewhat involved in the Hawkeyes’ rushing attack, racking up 16 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns in the Black and Gold.

During the first of his Big Ten Football Media Days press conferences, Brohm said he plans to use Tracy as both a back and receiver.

O’Connell said Tracy could be aptly described as Purdue’s “wideback.”

“He’s a little combination of everything, a Swiss Army knife” O’Connell said. “Had a great spring both at wide receiver and at running back. So, he’s a gadget guy that we’re going to use, and I think that just credits his ability. He’s dynamic and very smart too, picked up the playbook fast. He’s a guy we’re definitely gonna lean on a lot.”

Jones’ reason for leaving Iowa was not disclosed. He never released a statement of any kind when he transferred to Purdue.

Tracy’s exit was more publicized. The 6-foot, 187-pounder announced his entry into the transfer portal and commitment to Purdue via Twitter.

Tracy’s rift with Iowa became evident in November.  In a tweet that has since been deleted, Tracy wrote “Why have a Swiss Army knife and NOT use it to its full potential.”

Tyrone’s brother, Kenny Tracy, took to Twitter on Oct. 30 to express his displeasure with Iowa’s coaching staff and the amount of play time Tyrone had received.

Iowa and Purdue are scheduled to play each other on Nov. 5 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.

When the Hawkeyes make the trip east to visit their ex-teammates, no love will be lost.

“Maybe behind closed doors there’s a little bit of extra juice,” Iowa fifth-year safety Kaevon Merriweather said Tuesday. “But I’m not going to say that. I’m not going to say it out loud. I love T. I love Charlie. You know, it’ll be fun seeing them on the field, knocking them around a little bit.

“I think Purdue does a great job game-planning for us,” Merriweather added. “I think they’ll have a really good game plan to use Charlie and use Tyrone to their strengths. They’re a huge passing offense.”

The Hawkeyes have struggled to defend the Boilermakers’ passing attack in recent years. In its last five matchups with Iowa, Purdue has averaged nearly 310 passing yards per game and scored 14 touchdowns through the air.

“I really can’t put my tongue on it, for real,” Merriweather said of the source of the Hawkeyes’ recent struggles against the Boilermakers. “… They always come ready to play us, and that’s something you see week in and week out. When you have such a high-powered offense and you have such a high-powered defense and they go against each other, somebody has to come out on top.”