Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 1, 2015

The building project continues for Darrell Hazell at Purdue. There was progress from Year One to Year Two, as the Boilermakers went from 1-11 overall (0-8 Big Ten) in 2013 to 3-9 (1-7) last season. Now, it?s time to push for the program?s first bowl since 2012.

[ MORE: Purdue team homepage | 2014 Purdue stats | 2014 Purdue schedule ]

Hazell will welcome back a raft of talent, including quarterbacks Austin Appleby and Danny Etling, wideout Danny Anthrop and a veteran line led by center Robert Kugler on offense. The defense will have back linebackers Ja?Whaun Bentley and Jimmy Herman, tackle Jake Replogle and safety Frankie Williams, among others.

But holes loom, with the likes of linebacker Sean Robinson and tight end Gabe Holmes gone.

[ MORE: View all of Tom Dienhart's players to replace in 2015 posts ]

Here?s a look at the Top Five Purdue players that must be replaced in 2015.

S Landon Feichter. He was a true leader, a heart-and-soul player who arrived as a walk-on in 2010 and morphed into the best player on defense. Feichter paced the Boilermakers with 105 tackles in 2014 while also leading the team with five interceptions to go with eight passes broken up. Feichter was the squad?s defensive MVP last season and a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten choice.

RB Akeem Hunt. He was one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten, rushing for 949 yards. He also caught a team-high 48 passes for 293 yards. The Boilermakers will miss Hunt?s big-play ability. He also was a hard runner. Who is gonna provide the juice on the offense?

RB Raheem Mostert. He was one of the fastest players in the Big Ten, a true home run threat. Mostert finished second on the team in rushing with 529 yards. He also caught 18 passes and led the team in kickoff returns, averaging 21.5 yards on 34 runbacks. Like Akeem Hunt, Mostet's departure leaves a massive void in the "big play" ability category. He scared defenses.

DE Ryan Russell. He never really fulfilled his potential as a force off the edge to join an elite legacy of defensive ends in West Lafayette that includes Anthony Spencer, Rob Ninkovich, Cliff Avril, Rosevelt Colvin, Chike Okeafor and Ryan Kerrigan, among others. Still, Russell was a steady contributor who finished 2014 with 44 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.

TE Justin Sinz. He consistently was one of the most underrated players on the team. Sinz finished third on the squad with 32 receptions for 257 yards and two touchdowns in 2014 for a team with a yawning need for pass-catchers. He also was a strong blocker at the point of attack.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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