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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 73 Purdue's First Seven A look at those who, on paper, make up the first third or so of Purdue's 2017 recruiting class. Griffin Alstott The Florida quarterback and Boilermaker legacy was Purdue's first commitment for the 2017 class. The son of Mike Alstott has excellent size for a quarter- back, a live arm and, those around him say, a strong football IQ. "He's a great decision-maker," said Mike Alstott, also his son's coach at Northside Christian in St. Petersburg. Antwuan Branch The 6-foot, 200-plus-pound running back possesses the size to be extremely physical, but also the background. He was a linebacker for his first two seasons in high school, before moving to the backfield. "I play offense with a defensive mentality," he said. The move was a smashing success, literally. He ran for 2,600 or so yards and nearly 30 touchdowns as a junior in his first season on offense. C.J. Hayes Purdue needs immediate contributors at wide receiver and one thing seems apparent about Hayes: He'll be phys- ically equipped. He's a legitimate 6-2, at the very least, and nearly 200 pounds. He says he relishes using that size to pursue contested balls. "I'm a physical receiver," Hayes said. "If the ball's up there, I just go and get it for myself. That's my job: Catch the ball and score touchdowns." Tijaun Mason The wiry 6-5 projected defensive end from Memphis power Trezevant looks like a potential pass-rushing spe- cialist. He recorded 10 sacks as a junior and possesses the height, speed, length and athleticism college coaches seem to covet nowadays, but he will have to get signifi- cantly bigger and stronger. Nick Sipe The California quarterback committed to Purdue in June after an unofficial visit, ending his recruitment just as the Pac-12 might have been getting more involved. Sipe projects as the consummate pocket passer, with a 6-4 frame and a particular emphasis on accu- racy and the mental portions of playing the position. Jylton Tusha The offensive lineman from Jacksonville committed to Purdue sight-unseen after being offered about a month earlier. The 6-5, 300-plus-pounder seems capable of playing either tackle or guard, a decision that might not be made until he enrolls. Either way, Tusha said he embraces physicality. "Run-blocking is probably what I do best," Tusha said. "Smashing people in the face. I've always been a big kid and an aggressive kid and carried it over to the football field." Mitch West The defensive back from Montini High School in Chi- cagoland isn't the biggest cornerback recruit — listed at 5-10, 175 pounds — but he earned his Purdue offer by running a sub-4.5 40-yard dash at camp and quickly ac- cepted the offer. The Boilermaker staff indicated it believes he might be able to play safety, too, and certainly be a candidate to play in a nickel- or dime-back role. — Brian Neubert though all are underclassmen. Defensively, the secondary will be a priority, especial- ly with Purdue's new-look staff implementing more nickel and dime-based packages, as will be the defensive line, even after Purdue signed three nose tackles back in Feb- ruary. With so much personnel turnover coming en masse at certain positions, Purdue will probably find itself back in the junior college market come winter, with wide receiver especially being a focus. Purdue may look at JUCOs all over the defense, too, and certainly will at linebacker, where Dodge City Community College's Marquise Blair, an Ohio native, is a priority.

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