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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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Page 34 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 33 Spotlight's On A year ago, Markell Jones spent May sitting out. The running back, coming off a strong finish to his first spring at Purdue, was too lackadaisical, leaving campus for Maymester — when many others stick around to work out — to head home to Columbus, Ind. Maybe it was Mom's food that did him in. Maybe it was fast food. Maybe it was the lure of friends, many of them were just graduating high school, something he had done months earlier so he could get to Purdue in the spring. But whatever the reason — or reasons — Jones let his conditioning slip. By the time he returned to campus in early June, the 5-foot-9 running back checked in at a bloated 215 pounds. "I was a little disappointed, very disappointed," said Duane Carlisle, Purdue's director of sports performance, who runs the offseason conditioning program. "He came back probably 12 pounds overweight." It wasn't the start that Jones needed. The high school star — he rushed for a state-record 3,565 yards and 60 touchdowns in his four years at Columbus East and won Indiana Mr. Football as a senior — suffered a few hiccups in his first months as a Boilermaker. He hadn't studied his playbook enough before that first spring, causing him a slow start filled with botched assignments. And then the weight issue. But it's hard to be so good without being able to learn from missteps. And Jones has done so; as a freshman, he gained 875 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, becoming one of the most dynamic offensive underclassmen in the Big Ten. Only a sophomore, Markell Jones is already Purdue's marquee offensive player. Although it's been an accelerated rise, it's not been without bumps. BY KYLE CHARTERS

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