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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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Page 46 of 87

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 47 cumstance-driven development. On the graduate-transfer front, Purdue has worked that emerging market tirelessly and hopes that when all is said and done it can be viewed as one of this year's big winners in that regard. When all is finalized, Purdue should have four imme- diately eligible seniors to introduce into its depth chart come August. "It'll be important to get them here as soon as we can, throw them under the fire fast and see how they respond," said Brohm, who hasn't been able to publicly acknowl- edge any of the transfers who've not yet enrolled. "While they'll be given every opportunity to win a job, they're still going to have to win the job. It doesn't just happen. "A lot of times, the grass looks greener somewhere else (for players), so I want them to prove to us that they're ready to go. If they're not, we'll play the guys who've been here all spring and worked their tails off." Linebacker T.J. McCollum, a standout at Western Ken- tucky, followed Brohm and his staff to Purdue. He was an outstanding player for the Hilltoppers and his familiarity with the Boilermakers' defensive staff is obviously a plus. Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Holmes will step into the Boilermakers' wide-open fray at that critical position with two years of eligibility remaining and a golden op- portunity in front of him. He's a former elite recruit who never found his niche amidst the stifling collection of tal- ent present in South Bend, even though he was regarded as the fastest receiver on the Irish roster. Josh Okonye, thought by some to be Wake Forest's best defensive back, will transfer to Purdue and vie im- mediately to be a starter, whether it be at cornerback or safety. If it's corner, he'll have a natural comfort zone in his familiarity with position coach Derrick Jackson, who was previously on staff with the Demon Deacons prior to moving to Purdue. And though he's not announced a decision yet formal- ly, Rhode Island offensive tackle Dave Steinmetz is likely to end up with the Boilermakers for his final season of college football, adding an experienced upperclassman to a unit riddled with question marks. That's 10 players, 10 20-somethings (or close to it, in junior college D-end Kai Higgins' case) added to a ros- ter that affords ample opportunities for immediate im- pact-type roles. Purdue's coaches can't know exactly what they have on their hands until these players arrive, but they will be counting on them nonetheless. Wide receiver is the glaring need, a crucial position, obviously, in Brohm's plans, but one where the depth chart was wiped out by graduation and those remaining produced more uncertainty than certainty during spring ball. Terry Wright and Isaac Zico loom particularly large next season, and really, for the next two seasons, as Pur- due moves toward as wide receiver-friendly an offense as there is, with a dearth of proven wide receivers to run it with. Holmes now joins them on the doorstep of that opportunity. "The most important thing to me was seeing that this was the place where I was most likely to come in and be able to compete for a starting spot right away," Holmes said after committing. "That was the main thing I was looking at when picking a school, that and speaking with the receivers coach and seeing that he has experience at the position and knows what he's talking about, that he's Brian Neubert T.J. McCollum was a standout for Jeff Brohm's Western Kentucky teams. He'll finish up his college career at Purdue, likely as a starting linebacker.

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