Lakota East football standout to continue family tradition at Purdue

Lakota East's Charlie Kenrich makes a catch and runs in for a touchdown during their football game against Middletown Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township. Lakota East defeated Middletown 21-9. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Lakota East's Charlie Kenrich makes a catch and runs in for a touchdown during their football game against Middletown Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township. Lakota East defeated Middletown 21-9. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Kenrich will be a fourth generation Boilermaker

Lakota East High School rising senior Charlie Kenrich will be a fourth generation Boilermaker, but the three-star football recruit tried not to let family ties to Purdue University influence his decision.

Ultimately, Kenrich made his decision to commit to Purdue on Sunday based on other factors.

Purdue is recruiting the Thunderhawks’ wingback and second-team All-Greater Miami Conference pick as a tight end.

“I visited Virginia Tech at first and was kind of set on them, but I had the official visit set for Purdue so I went and my mind changed there,” Kenrich said. “The distance was the biggest part, being able to be closer to home. After making both trips, I realized where I would rather be and see myself.”

Kenrich visited Virginia Tech during the first weekend in June and liked the hometown feel of the campus and the players he met. The following weekend he went to Purdue and decided he didn’t need to take his third scheduled visit to Iowa State.

After a week of weighing the pros and cons of his top two choices, Kenrich chose Purdue.

“After both visits I sat on it and thought for a week and finaly came to conclusion,”Kenrich said. It was a tough choice if I’m being honest, but I don’t have any regrets,”

From Kenrich’s family, his dad, grandfather and grandmother and great grandfather and great grandmother all went to Purdue.

That was in the back of his mind when the Boilermakers extended an offer this spring, but he and his family wanted his decision to be based on what is best for him without any pressure to follow suit.

“My parents are pretty cool about it,” Kenrich said. “They didn’t pressure me. They made it clear it wasn’t a big deal if I went there or not, but it was my sole decision. It was always a thought when they offered me that it might be cool to continue that tradition, but I wanted to keep my options open because Virginia Tech a good school too, and I wasn’t going to eliminate anyone because of that.”

Kenrich looks forward to the challenge of playing a new position in college. Lakota East runs the triple option and doesn’t use the tight end in a way that would play to Kenrich’s strengths as a pass catcher and running back, but he feels his game would translate well in Purdue’s system.

The 6-foot-3, 226-pound athlete has been playing football since first grade, initially starting out as a quarterback before transitioning to running back in junior high.

“I don’t think it will be too bad (of a transition) because I watched film with Purdue and the way they use me at East, some of it is stuff I’m already doing,” Kenrich said. “We don’t only play triple option, so there are things I’ve done at East that will translate. The hardest thing will be I don’t block that much and I’ll have more responsibility with that so I’ll have to work on that and really take that under control.”

Kenrich led the Hawks in receiving with 290 yards on 13 catches, two of those going for touchdowns, and he was one of the top rushers, finishing with 245 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries.

East coach Rick Haynes said he doesn’t foresee Kenrich having any issues adjusting to his new role in college.

“I think that will go smooth,” Haynes said. “He’s got great ball skills, he’s smooth. Catching the ball won’t be an issue, and he’s a physical player so I don’t think the blocking aspect will be a problem for him. He’s grown up, and in some ways he’s only scratched the surface. Being a multi-sport athlete, I wouldn’t say his gains in the weight room have been limited because he’s made progress but when he goes to college he will be playing one sport and that will make a big difference. I could see him being 245-250 easily and carrying that well.”

Kenrich also plays basketball at East and previously played baseball as well.

Purdue is getting a “really good player and a great teammate,” Haynes said. Kenrich was a captain as a junior last season.

“His competitiveness and athletic ability and how hard he plays are things that stood out to me and also to all the coaches that recruited him,” Haynes said.

Kenrich said he already is doing some workouts to improve his blocking skills for college, but his focus is on finishing out his high school career on a high note. The 2020 season was a unique one for everyone because of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the Hawks to six games in the regular season, plus two playoff games, as they finished 4-4.

“I just want to win as many games as possible and honestly get the team better and get myself better so I’m prepared to do my best to help my team,” Kenrich said. “I think we’ve got the team to do it. It’s in our hands and just a matter of what we can do with it.”