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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 33 BY KYLE CHARTERS KCharters@GoldandBlack.com C ole Herdman estimated about five. But then the tight end started adding them, listing one-by-one the spots he could line up this season for Purdue. There are the traditional tight end positions, like with a hand down off the hip of an offensive tackle, standing up in the slot or as an H-back in the backfield. Jeff Brohm's offense will certainly feature Herdman in those positions, as most pro-style formations do. But Brohm's more nuanced system could put Herdman else- where, as well, like in the middle of a three-receiver set; or perhaps as the inside receiver in a similar formation; maybe he could line up solo on one side of the formation with trips opposite; or as a wingback; perhaps on the ball to the backside of the formation; maybe fullback. "It might be more than five (starting positions)," Herdman said with a smile. "Maybe closer to 10." Then, add in the motions and shifts, and the variety of options increases. And then add in a second player, as not only does Herdman give Purdue an athletic, pass-receiving option at tight end, but Brycen Hopkins does the same. They provide Brohm's offense with big targets — Herdman is 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, while Hopkins is 6-5, 245 — capa- ble of getting down the field because of speed and quick- ness that belies their size. Considering Purdue is short on experienced playmak- ers on the perimeter, it's likely to scheme to get the tight ends in the most advantageous positions as possible as frequently as possible. And that means putting them just about anywhere on the field. "I think one of the things that I believe you tend to see in good, experienced coaches is trying to put their players in positions to be successful," said tight ends coach Tony Levine, who is also a co-offensive coordinator and special teams coach. "We feel like Cole and Brycen are two of our more talented players on offense, and we've got to find a way to get them on the field at the same time and find a way to get them matched up to where they can be successful." The two relish the opportunity. A year ago, Herdman and Hopkins became larger parts of the offense, although maybe not as much as some had predicted. Herdman finished 2 0 1 6 with 35 catches and 344 y a r d s , p l u s t h r e e t o u c h - d o w n s , making him Purdue's most accomplished re- turning pass re- ceiver. Hopkins, playing his first season after redshirting, had 10 receptions for 183 yards, averaging an impressive 18.3 yards per and taking four for scores. They showed up frequently in the spring, as well, per- haps most in the first major scrimmage on Purdue's fifth practice, when they were often targets of David Blough in the red zone. They caught three touchdowns that day, although one was called back due to a penalty. That'll be the same this season, if Brohm's plans come to fruition. Shortly after the end of spring practices, Brohm met with the Boilermakers individually, expressing to the tight ends what he'd need from them. "He talked about how he's going to be depending on us as a really big part of the offense," Hopkins said. "I'm ex- cited to get out there and show everybody what Cole and I can do. (Brohm) wants basically everything; the new style tight end is someone who can put his hand in the dirt and someone who can spread out and go catch balls down the field. I have to get stronger, bigger and have to expect to be split out more often, because he wants to utilize us as a downfield threat." Both are capable. Herdman's big role Herdman isn't confident of the reason, although he "We feel like Cole and Brycen are two of our more talented players on offense, and we've got to find a way to get them on the field at the same time and find a way to get them matched up to where they can be successful." —Tight ends coach Tony Levine on Herdman and Hopkins

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