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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 1

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Page 31 of 78

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 1 32 E van Panfil is disgusted. The senior defensive end has not been what he wants to be — he admits to being his own harsh- est critic — during his career at Purdue, particularly last season. It was a year ago at this time that Panfil adamantly stated the Boilermakers would get a pass rush from their defensive ends. And then they didn't. Panfil finished the season with four sacks, tying Purdue's high but continuing a string in which Boilermaker ends ha- ven't been able to exceed that modest total. It's now up to five straight seasons, dating back to 2010 when Ryan Kerrigan had 12.5. Most troubling to Panfil is that he thinks he could have been better, if only he didn't get locked up in continual one- on-one battles with offensive tackles. He thinks he will be able to out-physical them, but too often he can't. And then he takes the personal losses as a challenge and tries again the next time, only to lose again. It becomes a cycle of futility. "I think 'disgust' is a good word," Panfil said, "because you go back and look at the film at the instances where I've done that. I'm faster than the guy, there's no reason to get engaged and no reason to do what I've done in the past. It's frustrating because that's not how I'm being coached. There's no excuse. But I get in a little mind game with my- self and try to out-muscle someone who is bigger than me." No longer. At least, that's the hope. Panfil has worked hard this offseason — he is one of Pur- due's hardest-working, most-dedicated players — to turn himself into the kind of player he envisions. Roommate Jake Replogle, a fellow D-lineman, witnesses the effort. "He's one of the last guys to leave the weight room after workouts," said Replogle, who would know, being that he's also one of the last to leave. "We are always watching film after practice. We'll be talking about football on Friday and Saturday nights, maybe watching film on our ThunderCloud app (on our tablets), it's something that you can tell is a really big part of his life and something he wants to excel at. You see it in a lot of different ways. "And the effort he puts on the field, he's never a guy who gets called out for not trying his hardest." But focusing that in the right direction, then executing it, has been an issue. A coaching change this offseason likely helped tremendously. When Purdue brought in Randy Melvin to coach the de- fensive line, he brought instant credibility, especially around here. In a previous stop at Purdue, the assistant helped players like Rosevelt Colvin, Chike Okeafor and Akin Ayo- dele become quarterback nightmares. He and Panfil bonded instantly, the latter wanting someone who could help him reach his potential. "He's a real stern guy," Panfil said. "And being with him a few months now, you know the expectation. You know that nothing else will suffice. Knowing that and knowing him, you know you've got to bring it every game. Not saying that you couldn't with other coaches, but Coach Melvin is going to hold you to that expectation." Melvin is also going to hit on the finer points of technique, particularly the hand-fighting necessary to break away from offensive tackles. Panfil's not used to that; before he'd try to lock up with linemen, then attempt to bull rush his way to the quarterback. He is a 6-foot-5, 270-pounder, so there's plenty of strength, but there's athleticism and quickness too, and he hasn't been using those attributes enough. When he had a huge game against Wisconsin last season, collecting a career-high three tackles for loss and a sack, he was using his full ability and power to knock a tackle off bal- ance and speed to dart in the backfield for tackles. "When you go back and watch the film, I know what I've done wrong and I know how I'm going to get critiqued by Coach Melvin," said Panfil, who flashed a new move in the first practice after training camp, when he spun around tack- le Jalen Neal to get into the backfield. "… You've just got to do what you've been practicing and keep practicing what he's telling you, because what he does works, obviously, with his reputation." But Panfil's hurdles aren't all physical ones. Calling him- self a bit of a "nervous guy," he's worked on relaxation and visualization techniques with sports psychologist Chris Carr, a doctor at St. Vincent Sports Performance who works closely with Boilermaker athletes. Panfil knows he has to get out of his own head, not focus- ing on the results so much as the process. "But it's always been the moral of the story for me," the New Lenox, Ill., native said, "and I've tried to do some mental training, just calm down and play. We have a great coach and have been taught great techniques and fundamentals. Every- thing is at my disposal, I just need to settle down and play." Panfil working hard to get where he wants to be

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