Dienhart: Here's what I learned at Purdue football practice
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Darrell Hazell is still looking for a breakthrough season in West Lafayette. Will it come in Year Four? The good news: He has the most experienced team in the Big Ten. Will that translate to a successful season?
Some big questions need to be filled for a Purdue that has a reshuffled staff.
Here is what I learned at Purdue practice.
1. There’s talent at receiver. DeAngelo Yancey, Cameron Posey and Domonique Young all have looked good in camp. And all are seniors. Bilal Marshall is another senior who has good size and is in the rotation. Junior Greg Phillips has been catching everything. TE Cole Herdman is coming along, as well, and could be a weapon. Look for him to flex out from time to time.
David Blough needs to stabilize the QB spot. The experience the sophomore gained last year starting shows. He’s a confident kid and a good person who has a nice skill set. Plus, he has some mobility to extend the play, but he lacks top-end arm strength. This is a very critical year for Darrell Hazell, who has a new boss in A.D. Mike Bobinski. Hazell has switched QBs each of his three seasons. He needs consistent QB play.
3. RB Markell Jones is a good, tough runner. But he must stay healthy, as depth falls off quickly after D.J. Knox suffered a season-ending knee injury in the spring. The backups are Tario Fuller and Richie Worship, who is a big 245-pound back that can move the pile. Fuller has had a nice camp. I like him. If Jones stays healthy and the line develops, he may have a shot to run for 1,000 yards. If that happens, it will likely have been a good season for the Boilermakers.
4. The linebackers could be pretty good. Ja’Whaun Bentley is the anchor in the middle. When he suffered a season-ending injury last year, it really impacted an already limited defense. Danny Ezechukwu is a nice athlete on the weak side, while rising talent Markus Bailey looking to break out. He’s a good one. Jimmy Herman is an underrated athlete who can run.
5. The offensive line has potential. The interior looks strong, with seniors Jordan Roos and Jason King at the guard slots. And Kirk Barron is coming along at center. But how will the tackle spots shake out? The staff likes the potential of Martesse Patterson at left tackle. He is slimmed down and athletic. Good potential. The right tackle is a work-in-progress with Matt McCann the leading contender. Cameron Cermin is a wild card who has played a lot. This group has to have a good year, as the line has struggled for too long in West Lafayette.
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