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32 DAYS TO 2022 KICKOFF: Desmond Purnell

In which BracketCat counts down the 32nd day until the 2022 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State linebacker Desmond Purnell.

#32 Justin Hughes
Sixth-year senior linebacker Justin Hughes (32) elected not to come back for a seventh year in 2021, so his jersey number was taken by a defensive back, incoming freshman Desmond Purnell, who’s now also transitioning to linebacker.
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

#32 Desmond Purnell

Redshirt Freshman | 5-11 | 214 lbs. | Topeka, Kansas
Desmond Purnell
Desmond Purnell
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Scout Team
  • Status: On Scholarship

Desmond Purnell (b. Jan. 29, 2001) is a speedy, two-star defensive back-turned-linebacker from Hayden High School in Topeka who is majoring in athletic training and rehab sciences.

He redshirted in 2021 as a defensive back and now is making the transition to linebacker, so I predict he probably will contribute mainly on the scout team and special teams in 2022.

Purnell prepped under head coach Bill Arnold at Topeka Hayden, where he was viewed as the sixth-best prospect in the state of Kansas for the Class of 2021 by 247Sports.

He was a finalist for the 2020 Kansas Class 3A Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year honors by Sports in Kansas, while the organization voted him a first-team all-state honoree.

Purnell also was a first-team all-state selection as a senior by The Wichita Eagle as both a junior and a senior, and he earned first-team all-state honors as a senior and honorable mention accolades as a junior from The Topeka Capital-Journal.

He totaled 811 rushing yards, 469 receiving yards, and 22 total touchdowns as a senior to go along with 80 tackles for the Wildcats and was named the 2020 city offensive player of the year for Topeka.

Purnell, who was a late addition to the 2021 class after signing his Letter of Intent that Feburary, picked K-State over interest from South Dakota. His lead recruiters were recruiting coordinator Taylor Braet and defensive coordinator/safeties coach Joe Klanderman.

His older brother, Lorenzo, played football at Pittsburg State. Here’s what K-State head coach Chris Klieman had to say about the younger Purnell after he signed with KSU:

Desmond Purnell, I was able to go and watch him play [against Manhattan]. I thought he was the best kid on the field that day. He really piqued my interest, and I kept watching clips that were sent to me. When I saw him live, I thought there was a kid that will have an impact on our program.

A budding business leader, Purnell recently had a neat opportunity to attend the Men of Color National Summit at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, South Carolina.