GBI Magazine

Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 36 In June, Carlisle had Jones, Replogle and Bentley — Jones being the only underclassman — talk to Purdue's incoming freshmen, telling them the importance of off- season conditioning. Jones likely talked about where he had slipped up. But if Jones is to do what Knox has done, he'll have to start jumping to the front of the line, maybe fighting veteran David Yancey for the spot, then driving hard in practice. Set an example. "Sometimes, I've gotten this before from coaches, that they want me to become more of a practice player," Jones said. "And I've kind of dealt with that, even in high school, which is not something I'm proud of. But it's something that I've got to continue to work on. I think with D.J. be- ing out, being first in line for drills, etc., and becoming more of a practice player — you play how you practice — is important. So practicing 100 mph every single day and every rep." It'd be another step forward. He's taken a few before. When the rookie came to Pur- due a semester early, he was confident, as he always is, but unprepared. He hadn't studied as much as he should, causing him to make mistakes in those first weeks of practice. Then, the weight gain. But Jones has worked toward corrections. He knows the playbook and is fixing his food intake — "I'm a terri- ble eater," he says — by recently cutting out fast food and soda. He hates vegetables, but Purdue sports dietitian Lauren Link has helped him find substitutes. "He responds well to challenges," Carlisle said. "He's no different than a typical freshman. When they come into school, there's an education process, a mat- uration process and they have to begin to learn what that is all about, amongst juggling so many other fac- ets: School, social life, football, so forth. "He's not unlike a lot of other guys, but he played as a true freshman and he performed, so the expectations change. He wasn't redshirted, there was no time for development. For him, it's been about understanding what it takes to be an elite-level guy and to be able to do it day after day after day after day, week after week after week, month after month after month and string those together. And then when you get to the season, do the same thing. It's getting him to understand that process." Jones will have to be self-motivated. Although per- haps David Yancey and Richie Worship can push for a few carries per game as the reserve running backs, neither is going to supplant him. A healthy Knox could have, or at least kept after him, forcing Jones into another step forward. But Purdue's not concerned. "No, no, no, no, no," Coach Darrell Hazell said when asked about the fear of complacency. "We talked about some stuff, and (Markell) has goals. I actually put to- gether a book for him, a road map of his next three years: 'Here's the goals you have to reach.' And he's hungry. We talked about why Walter Payton is so good, those types of things. I don't worry about (complacen- cy) with him. He's way too mature for that." Quarterback David Blough thinks Jones will take the season, with Knox's absence, as another chal- lenge, pushing himself to beat others. "I think Markell can say, 'Wait a second. Why can't I do what Leonard Fournette (at LSU) does? Or the freshman (LJ Scott) at Michigan State?' " Blough said. "I'm sure Muhammad Ali wasn't thinking about be- ing the best in Louisville, Ky. Then, he wasn't worried about being the best amateur boxer. He said, 'I'm the greatest.' Then he made himself a prophet. You've got to work for it. But go ahead, dream big, Markell." First-year Purdue running backs coach DeAndre Smith, who has coached All-America-caliber backs Mikel LeShoure (Illinois), Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe (Northern Illinois) in previous stops, saw Jones' natural ability in the spring. The way Jones moves through small openings with a subtle twitch of the hips while anticipating his next move. The way he can power into a defender for a few more yards. The way he can accelerate. Smith saw a lot that he liked. "(Markell) has to fight against being complacent, and it's the difference between good and great," Smith said. "He's a good player. Do you want to be great? Great players really work at it to become that. That's where he is. But he has a chance to be pretty special. No question about it." j

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of GBI Magazine - Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6