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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 62 Dellinger, who is also likely to kick off at Purdue, thinks he has the mental fortitude to succeed, an ap- proach that's a requirement at the collegiate Power 5 level when infrequently does everything go according to plan. Especially for a freshman. "My ability to bounce back from a missed kick," he said of his strengths. "The pressure, I think I can handle pressure pretty well. And my desire to be perfect, to be technically as close to perfect as I can get." Purdue has other questions on its special teams, mainly in the return game. On kickoffs, running back Markell Jones could be a return man, although it seems it will be a lot to expect the sophomore to increase his already heavy workload. Maybe speedy sophomore re- ceiver Jarrett Burgess is an option, although he's had to prove that he can hold on to the ball. D.J. Knox would have been a possibility, but the junior running back tore his ACL in the spring game; Dan Mon- teroso too, but then the wide receiver decided to transfer after the spring. Maybe a freshman like Simeon Smiley, Josh Hayes or Jack Wegher could find his way into the mix. "That's another answer we have to find," Hazell said. "Who are those guys? We had a lot of those guys that are incoming who did it in high school. But you've got to find out pretty quickly who those guys are because that's a huge factor for us." Punt return might be a little clearer. Senior Cameron Posey is probably the leader, after he showed promise in the spring, including a 29-yarder during the spring game. But Purdue's often used two during Hazell's tenure, sometimes concurrently, and Monteroso's transfer opens a spot. Purdue will have other holes to fill in the kicking game, but nothing out of the ordinary, positions like its snipers on the punt coverage teams or its blockers on kick return. Critical, though not glamorous, positions. One spot that seemingly is set is punter, where soph- omore Joe Schopper enters his second season. After tak- ing over for Thomas Meadows in the third game last sea- son, Schopper started quickly, averaging 42.8 yards per punt on his first 21 attempts (while putting 38 percent inside the 20) over four games. But in the last five, he dipped significantly, averaging only 38.7 on 37 attempts, putting only 32.4 percent inside the 20. But Hazell thinks Schopper has the talent to perform more like those early games. "He's a very driven kid," the fourth-year coach said. "He's hard on himself. … You just talk to him, he tells you what he's done wrong and how he needs to correct it, and he feels a sense of obligation of doing it for the team." j

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