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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

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Page 25 of 92

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED OLUME 26, ISSUE 5 26 You want to attract the best and the brightest in every aspect to the university. And I think Purdue is obviously very well renowned in a lot of ways, as an engineering school, management, pharmacy, and other things. But I think that the more successful our football program can be, the more it highlights the other great things about this university and will continue to attract the best and the brightest to see what Purdue is all about and want to be a part of it." That Brees still wants to be a part of it is huge. He could have easily opted out of the groundbreaking in April, with the personal ties that have bound him to the university growing fewer with the passage of time. Few of the faces are the same: Tiller is no longer at Pur- due, long since retired to Wyoming; Burke will be retired soon, as well. And the Saints' tragedy, with Smith's death, added a complication to the weekend schedule, yet Brees still made time for Purdue. And that alone says something. "I think his most precious resource is probably his time," said Berghoff, who also is the AD search commit- tee chairman. "He makes a lot of money in the league but there are lots of demands on his time. When he's willing to share some of it with us, it just shows you how important it is. And he's been doing this for a number of years. Heck, he's been in the league for 16 years. It's an asset." The Boilermakers can feel the Brees effect. Only Pur- due's current seniors won't be able to enjoy the new football facility, the rest being able to move in just before the start of next season. The projected grand opening on Aug. 24, 2017 just so happens to be Ja'Whaun Bentley's 21st birthday. The middle linebacker, who felt pressure in being Purdue's current player representa- tive in the ceremonial groundbreak- ing, will be on the verge of his senior season at the start of '17. "I'm very honored to be in the po- sition I'm in," he said. "(No.) 1, to be a captain of this football team, and I know we're going to do big things. To just know all the alumni, all the past players, Drew Brees, Akin Ayodele, Rosevelt Colvin, Bob Griese, all from the past, people who are still playing, just to know everybody is behind you in everything you do, it's a blessing to have so many eyes on you. It puts the pressure on. You know everybody is looking to you to do well, you don't want to disappoint. So it has this team's eyes on the right path." If Purdue is to return to a winning program, it'll take Bentley and Co.'s effort to do so. But Brees will have, yet again, played his part. And, Okobi says, that's because of competitive spirit; Brees wants everything he touches to be a winner. "That's a man who has a lot of pride in himself and in the groups he's representing," Okobi said. "Every time he takes the field, whether it was for San Diego or New Orleans, he's representing all of us, and not just the players, the students at the school. He's representing administrative staff, he's representing his coaches, his family. And it comes back to the competitive nature and pride, that's what Drew Brees, as a man, brings to the table, no matter where he's playing or what he is doing. "He was the leader of the team, and you saw the re- sults. Now, he's got a more influential, prestigious posi- tion within society as an A-list celebrity, so that type of influence on a larger scale should help us lift ourselves up. That's what it's about. Drew's here to help these kids help themselves. That's it." j "(The facility) is going to be the quickest way to ac- celerate our path to winning and from that investment we expect a return. And it's going to start with bowl cham- pionships, it's going to start with a division championship, conference championship, Rose Bowl championship and a national championship." — Board of Trustees chairman Mike Berghoff

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