PURDUE

 

QUARTERBACK - Curtis Painter. 2005 stats: 89-170, 932 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs. Returning Starter.

Curtis Painter didn't begin the 2005 season as a starter, but he replaced struggling Brandon Kirsch and ended up starting the final five Purdue games. A redshirt freshman playing his first year of college football, Painter understandly struggled and should show improvement in 2006. Still, he has a ways to go in terms of becoming a more efficient passer (96th in the nation last year). He's got some mobility, which should give Purdue a more legitimate option threat and help Painter get out of trouble if he can't find the open receiver. Purdue will need Painter to be effective if they hope to be rebound; after Kyle Orton threw for four touchdowns against the Irish in 2004, the 2005 Boilermakers only threw for 10 touchdowns all season. Depth: Joey Elliot is another redshirt freshman who hasn't taken a college snap yet. More of a pocket passer than Painter, Elliot was prolific in high school, but outside of a decent game in the spring game, he's an unknown as far as what he can do for the Boilermakers.

 

RUNNING BACK - Kory Sheets. 2005 stats: 104 attempts, 601 yards, 10 TDs. New starter.

Kory Sheets is a dangerous running back who excels at running outside the tackles. He had the advantage of having Jerod Void on the team last year to get the tough yards up the middle, so he'll have to prove he can take over that role. But when the play is to the sidelines, Sheets has more than enough speed to turn the corner and beat defenders to the endzone. An honorable mention Freshman All-American last year, Sheets is also a threat out of the backfield and should build on his 13 receptions last year. Depth: The only other running back on the roster who carried the ball last year, Anthony Heygood is more of a fullback and may see some of those between the tackle runs if the coaches don't want to put Sheets in that situation. Purdue brought in JUCO player Jaycen Taylor for the spring and he put up 84 yards on 13 carries in the Boilermaker spring game. He will probably be the backup running back to Sheets.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Dorien Bryant.
80 receptions, 960 yards, 4 TDs. Returning starter.
Kyle Ingraham. 41 receptions, 500 yards, 0 TDs. Returning starter.
Selwyn Lymon. academically ineligible. New starter.

Dorien Bryant (right) is a speed threat with good hands who will also see the ball as a kick returner and rusher. His 1,561 all-purpose yards and 8 all-purpose touchdowns in 2005 highlight his versatility. Quick in the open field and with enough speed to be a deep threat, Bryant will be the top target of Purdue QB Painter. Kyle Ingraham missed the spring due to academics, but if he's back on the team in the fall, the 6-9 receiver will pose problems for defensive backs all year. Selwyn Lymon is a 6-4 blue chip recruit who was ineligble last year but should show up in the fall and work right in with the first team. He's strong and fast, and if he can learn the offense, he'll be a threat. Depth: Greg Orton is another 6-4 receiver who could work his way into the starting rotation with a strong fall camp. Just a freshman last year, Orton has a bright future. Angelo Chattams is a dependable veteran reserve and will add experience and depth to the Purdue receivers. Purdue has a fast, tall, and deep receiving corp, but the high expectations be undone if a few key players like Ingraham and Lymon run into any complications returning to the team.

 

TIGHT END

 Dustin Keller.
13 receptions, 128 yards, 3 TDs. New starter.

A converted wide receiver, Dustin Keller will be a threat in the passing game. Despite not being #1 on the depth chart last year, only Dorien Bryant had more receiving touchdowns for the Boilermakers than Keller. He's not a great blocker and at 244 pounds might have some trouble with bigger defensive lineman, but probably will be used much more as a receiver than blocker. Depth: Jerry Wasikowski is a former walk-on with no game experience playing as a tight end yet.

OFFENSIVE LINE

 

LT - Mike Otto. (#22 T) Returning starter.
LG - Uche Nwaneri. Returning starter.
C - Robbie Powell. (#15 C) Returning starter.
RG - Jordan Grimes. (#1 G) Returning starter.
RT - Sean Sester. (#35 T) Returning starter.

It's an extremely veteran line with five returning starters and Mike Otto (left) is the leader with 36 career starts at the left tackle position. He's one of the best tackles in the Big 10. Uche Nwaneri returns to the starting lineup after being suspended all last season. This same group, minus Nwaneri, only gave up nine sacks over all of last season. All-Big Ten player Jordan Grimes is entering his second full year as a starter and so is redshirt sophomore Sean Sester, a huge 6-8, 310 pound tackle, who just might be Purdue's best lineman. Depth: Despite all the experience on the starting lineup, the depth behind them is rather sparse. Tackle Eric Hedstrom was a highly recruited prospect but hasn't played in a game yet. Garrett Miller did see some action last season and is the backup to Otto at left tackle. Most of the backup guards don't have more than a game or two's worth of garbage time experience.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE

Anthony Spencer.
(#32 DE) 23 tackles, 3 sacks, 7.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FR.
Returning starter.

Ryan Baker. 10 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 TFL. New starter.
Alex Magee. 18 tackles, 1 TFL. New starter.
Eugene Bright. 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL. New starter.

Anthony Spencer (right) is another lone starter returning to a line racked by graduation. A veteran with 23 career starts, Spencer might find things harder without a Ray Edwards on the other side of the line to attract attention, but he's still a very capable defender. One time ND tight end commit Ryan Baker has surfaced at defensive tackle and the redshirt sophomore has locked down a starting spot with his hustle and aggressive play. Co-defensive tackle Alex Magee started 2 games last year as a true freshman and now has the starting spot all to himself. Eugene Bright looks to be the newest pass rushing Purdue defensive end. Depth: Purdue is somewhat deep at defensive tackle, but like the starters, the depth is made up of redshirt and true sophomores. Jared Zwilling, Mike Neal, Johnathan Patton, and Jermaine Guynn are inexperienced and unproven, but at least have the size to play if and when needed. Jeff Benjamin and Mike McDonald are two JUCO transfers who will shore up the defensive end position.

 

LINEBACKERS

SLB - Cliff Avirl.
33 tackles, 2.5 TFL. New starter.
MLB - George Hall. (#16 - ILB) 77 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 PBU. Returning starter.
WLB - Dan Bick. 40 tackles, 1 sack, 3.5 TFL, 1 INT. New starter.

The Purdue linebackers are fast and talented, but also injured. The depth chart took a bit of a hit when starting middle linebacker George Hall (right) went down with a leg injury in fall camp. He's had surgery but it's unknown if he'll make it back in time for the late September game against ND. I'll leave him in here for now, but even if he does make it back he likely won't be at 100%. When he is healthy, he's a veteran linebacker who is extremely quick for his size (6-2, 240 pounds). Cliff Avril also has battled some injuries during last year and this fall relating to his back. And it's never good for a linebacker to have back injuries. If he can play pain free, Cliff is the best run stopper on the team and an excellent tackler. Dan Bick has been playing with a shoulder injury through fall camp and it's not sure just how he'll be able to hold up to the pounding of tackling fullbacks and taking on offensive lineman. Especially considering he's a bit undersized at 218 pounds. Depth: Taking Hall's place for the first few games is Josh Ferguson, an inexperienced junior who had a solid offseason and the benefit of playing with the first team defense for much of fall camp. Jason Werner is an extremely fast former safety but like Avril is fighting with back problems and may have to miss some games. Stanford Keglar has 18 career starts under his belt, but has been related to backup status behind Bick for now. If he gets the call, he'll bring a good amount of game experience off the bench.

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB - Aaron Lane. Walk-on transfer from St. Francis. New starter.
CB - Zach Logan. 43 tackles, 1 sack, 2.5 TFL, 5 PBU. Returning starter.
FS - Brandon Erwin. New starter.
SS - Torri Williams. Out in 2005 with injury. New starter.

The Boilermakers are undergoing a revamping of their secondary and will field a lot of inexperience to start the year. Zach Logan is the lone returning starter after starting the last nine games of the year for Purdue. He's fast, but it will be tougher on him this year when he has to face the #1 WR for the other team. Aaron Lane is a bit of a surprise starter after walking on to the team as a running back transfer from the University of St. Francis. Torri Williams (right) missed all of 2005 with a broken leg, but is fine now and has high expectations that he'll turn into a very good strong safety for the Boilermakers. Brandon Erwin is another bit of a surprise starter as he' s a true freshman who wasn't very highly ranked coming out of high school. Depth: Of the four players listed on the Boilermaker 2nd string, only one, cornerback Fabian Martin, has played a down at Purdue. And even he didn't record any statistics. The other backup corner, Royce Adams is a true freshman. The backup strong safety, Adam Wolf, is a walk-on while the backup free safety, Justin Scott, is a JUCO transfer. Scott was productive in junior college though so he might be able to add some decent depth.