Over the past 15 years, Purdue has developed a “Den of Defensive Ends” by producing an outstanding group of defensive ends that include nine future NFL players. That tradition started with Rosevelt Colvin, who racked up a school-record 35 sacks in his four years at Purdue.
Drafted by Chicago in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Colvin spent four seasons with the Bears and six more with the New England Patriots, where he was part of a team that won two straight Super Bowls.
Colvin will always be remembered as one of Purdue’s greatest defensive players, but his heart wasn’t always set on the Boilermakers. I asked him about that topic, the classic Purdue-Indiana rivalry games, and a few other things from his Boilermaker days.
BTN.com: I know the Indiana-Purdue football rivalry has taken a bit of a back seat as of late as both programs appear to be rebuilding at the moment, but did you guys have any heated battles with the Hoosiers back in your college playing days?
Colvin: Oh, yes we did. But as a freshman, being my first year in the program and seeing everything firsthand, I guess I really didn’t fully understand how big of a rivalry this was. We beat them pretty good that year, in 1995, and that’s when I really started to take notice of the rivalry.
BTN.com: Did you play a lot as a freshman?
Colvin: I played on special teams, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I started. Well, that season we played Indiana on our home field, and we actually lost to them. I remember it was Coach Jim Colletto’s last game as Purdue’s head coach, and it just so happened that it was Indiana’s head coach’s (Bill Mallory) last game as well.
BTN.com: That’s just adding fuel to the fire.
Colvin: Exactly. So after they beat us, the IU fans and students stormed the field and tried to tear down our goal posts. It was an absolute zoo. Well, I remember looking over at my teammate, Chike Okeafor, who played in the NFL as well, and we said two words to each other: “Let’s go.”
I remember we ran over to the kids who were jumping and trying to tear down the goal posts, and we just started slinging them off that thing. We weren’t trying to hurt anyone obviously, but just getting all these Indiana fans out of the way and trying to stop them from bringing down our goalposts on our home field. We didn’t want them to disrespect our field like that.
BTN.com: This already has the makings of a great story. Please continue.
Colvin: Well, as we’re doing this, we see the West Lafayette Police Department coming at us out of the corner of our eye. We think this is it, we are about to get in a lot of trouble. So they come over, and instead of telling us to stop, they tell us “Keep going! Get those IU kids out of here!” So we got real pumped up and kept throwing them off, and ultimately got them to stop trying to take down the goal posts.
BTN.com: Wow, sounds like that was quite the introduction to a true “rivalry” game.
Colvin: It really was. That just stemmed the anger and made for great games the next couple of years against Indiana.
BTN.com: Did you always dislike Indiana growing up?
Colvin: No, believe it or not, I was actually a big fan growing up. I loved Isiah Thomas and those great championship teams.
BTN.com: Really? That’s shocking. Then how did you end up at Purdue?
Colvin: I’m an inner-city kid, born and raised in Indianapolis. My parents are both educators, so college and a good education was very important to me. I was a smart kid and I had a lot of schools recruiting me, but I took my SAT and bombed it. Because of that, I had a lot of schools drop off from me after that. Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, the list goes on. They probably figured I wasn’t bright enough to make the cut. Purdue stuck with me. My sister was an engineer and Purdue was one of the best engineering schools in the country, so that really interested me at the time. I took one official visit and I liked it. So, I took the offer and that was that.
BTN.com: Purdue is going through what seems like a rebuilding process right now, just hiring a new coach. You played under Joe Tiller, a coach who really seemed to thrive at Purdue. What was it like playing for him?
Colvin: I played under him for two years and it was a great two years. Coach Tiller was an offensive minded coach. He brought life back to the program. He brought an opportunity to have fun again because we weren’t having fun before he arrived there. It was more of a duty. But when coach Tiller came, it changed a lot. He made football fun again. It was enjoyable to play for him.
BTN.com: Do you believe that Purdue can get back to those days?
Colvin: Yes, of course. They’re on the right track.
BTN.com: Especially if they keep producing those dominant defensive ends, right?
Colvin: That’s right. We started it, now they need to keep it going.
|About Sean Merriman||BTN.com contributor Sean Merriman interviews Big Ten names and asks them for a great story about their days in the Big Ten for our Big Ten Tales section.|