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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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Page 35 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 34 To be even better as a sopho- more, he's realizing the importance of preparation. Carlisle's drilled him: "You've got to get it done 24/7 and it's 52 weeks out of the year. I think he's starting to understand that." Proof? Although Jones went home again for May, a decision that certainly raised some eyebrows, it proved to be a good test. "When I went home last year, I was a young cat, so I was like, 'All right, I've done this before. I can go a whole month without doing anything,' " Jones said this summer. "So last year, I came back in the summer and I was 215. I'm 5-9. I'm not supposed to be 215. But I came back at 215. "So when I left this April, Coach Carlisle pointed out a few guys, in- cluding myself. He said, 'Markell, don't come back out of shape.' So when I was home, I was stepping on the scale every day, eating right, working out and I came back 204, which was my goal weight. So I main- tained and stayed at that. That's one of the things where I didn't want to start behind the 8 ball when I got back." Jones can't afford to slip. Purdue can't afford to let him. Jones is going to be Purdue's work- horse, its bell cow, its every-down, ev- ery-drive back. Because he's lost his running mate. When backup D.J. Knox tore up his knee in the spring game, it deliv- ered a difficult blow to the Boilermak- ers. He and Jones likely would have been one of the better 1-2 backfield punches in the Big Ten West, a com- bination the Boilermakers could have built their offense around. But now, with Knox's ACL surgery likely to put him out all of 2016, the onus will be on Jones. Purdue plans to ride him as much as possible, pos- sibly giving the running back the ball Tom Campbell Markell Jones has taken steps to be even better than his 875-yard debut, the best ever by a Purdue freshman. Is This Concerning? Purdue doesn't know what was up with Markell Jones' left knee last season. The knee balked a few times during the season, most noticeably when Jones had to leave the North- western game after it buckled early in the third quarter. He left the Bowl- ing Green game, too, and had other instances where he stayed in but was limping around. "I thought I lost a lot of power out of it, because of the constant nagging pain," said Jones, who first hurt the knee when he took a hit in training camp. It's a concern, particularly now that D.J. Knox is out (ACL) and Jones is primed to get the vast ma- jority of Purdue's carries, maybe 30-plus a game. The Boilermakers certainly want to use Jones as much as possible. To do so, however, the knee will have to hold up. Perhaps that's not a big concern now — Jones didn't seem bothered heading into sum- mer conditioning, saying it felt fine — but nothing can simulate the grind of a season. And no one can say exactly what the issue was. "They couldn't tell me and I couldn't tell you," said Jones, who gained 875 yards and scored 10 TDs as a freshman. "We did MRIs, different types of treatments, differ- ent things during the season. Wore sleeves, tried different braces, but never got a definitive answer. But at this point, it isn't an issue any more. Hopefully, it kind of stays away." — Kyle Charters

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