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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 10 Boiler Index Who Should Be The Week 1 Starting Running Back? Stacy Clardie No one can question Markell Jones' physical ability: He's clearly the most- talented back on the roster. But he's not my pick to be the Week 1 starter. That'd be D.J. Knox. Here's why I'd pick a guy who is coming off an ACL injury over other guys who are talented (Richie Worship, especially): Not sure anyone wants it more desperately than Knox and that desire shows up in every rep. Whether it was going full-throttle on actual snaps during spring practice or, from what I'm told, exhausting every ounce of energy on ones in the weight room and on sprints. He, simply, is relentless. His mentality is exactly what Purdue needs infused inside the program, someone intent on working to earn a spot, not expecting to because of past production. Knox's return is perfect for Jones, too, because it's a severe wake-up call in competition. But it's not just Knox's work ethic that pushes him to the top of my list: Dude is a bruising runner who has some shake, too, and is a more- than-capable receiver and blocker. Kyle Charters This is a tough one. Jeff Brohm considered Tario Fuller his No. 1 coming out of spring, but I don't think there are many — Fuller excluded — who think he'll be RB1 in Lucas Oil Stadium in early September. He's not yet earned the same trust as the other candidates, mainly D.J. Knox but perhaps Markell Jones or Richie Worship. Maybe Fuller will in time, but that time isn't now. I think Brohm's insistence — and he's said this repeatedly since the end of spring — that he feels good about three running backs, Fuller, Knox and Worship, isn't so much a message to that trio, but a signal to the fourth, Jones. He wants Jones to buy in, get himself into shape and compete for his job. Is the message received? Only time will tell. But I'm going to put my faith in the junior back, although honestly, he's tested that of late, by his practice habits that seem less than ideal. But Jones is the most- talented, best all-around back Purdue has; he needs only now to fight for it. I believe he will do so and earn the start vs. Louisville.

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