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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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Page 33 of 87

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 34 has theories. Maybe it was basketball, with it occupying his summers while he played AAU ball rather than attend football camps. Or maybe he was too undersized. Maybe he didn't seek out attention as well as he could have. Whatever the explanation, Herd- man wasn't recruited much out of Leesburg, Va. The Flint Hill graduate says Purdue was his only major offer, with Virginia Tech extending a grey- shirt opportunity, delaying full-time enrollment for a semester, and a few other FCS programs offering possi- bilities. He chose the Boilermakers, then redshirted his first season — Purdue had Gabe Holmes and Justin Sinz, a couple of established, impactful vet- erans — using it to put himself in position to play the following year. He did, becoming the pass-catch- ing option to starter Jordan Jurasev- ich, a blocking tight end, and had 18 receptions. "I knew I had something to prove when I came in here," he said. "And playing behind Justin Sinz and Gabe Holmes my first year, I knew I wasn't going to play right away. They were established players. But I got here and worked hard. I knew if I could get stronger, faster, then I could get that edge by watching film, become a bet- ter student of the game, that would set me apart. "People would see that and say, 'Wow, I wish I took a shot on this kid.' But that's why Purdue means so much to me, because it took that chance and now I'm hopefully going to give back by making some plays." Herdman, a junior, has a lot to give. He seemingly has few glaring weaknesses, having worked himself into being a solid blocker over the last couple seasons and into becom- ing a reliable pass receiver. He's one of Purdue's most sure-handed tar- gets, a reason why Blough tended to look his direction this spring. Levine says Herdman has natural- ly strong tendencies. "He really understands — I'll use the phrase big picture — in terms of blocking and in terms of settling in zones and getting open," Levine said. "There's always going to be a play in football where how you draw it up is Tom Campbell Brycen Hopkins has the ability to catch the ball and head up field, which he showed on a limited basis in 2016. His productiv- ity should grow this season.

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