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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 3

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 3 38 projects as a clear-cut Day 1 tackle. Conditioning and motor may be emphases for the Fort Wayne Snider product, but he's already 300 pounds and quicker and more explosive than you'd think for his body type. Otherwise, Purdue signed three towering defensive ends in Jack Cravaack, Jack Sullivan and K.J. Stokes and two other grown-man-looking ends in Branson Deen and January enrollee Jeff Marks. Purdue might have liked another quicker, edge-rush- er type in its ideal scenario, but with those signed, the possibility certainly exists that some of the bigger ends could work their way to tackle in time, or in some cases maybe even the offensive side. For example, Cravaack was originally recruited for either defensive line or tight end and didn't find out until long after he'd committed that he'd be starting off on defense. But the common denominator among the D-line might be physical readiness, the majority of the signees being players who fill out their uniforms particularly well. What that may mean toward the group's impact po- tential right away remains to be seen, but opportuni- ties may exist come August, or in Marks' case, April. Remember, Purdue already has 2019 blue-chipper George Karlaftis committed. LINEBACKER Purdue loses key players Ja'Whaun Bentley, T.J. McCo- llum and Danny Ezechukwu from its linebackers corps. But if there's one takeaway from the attention given the position for 2018, it might be this: Purdue must re- ally like the three it signed last year — Derrick Barnes, Cornel Jones and Tobias Larry, none of them redshirted this season — because Purdue was content to sign just freshman-to-be Jaylan Alexander on Dec. 20. It is very possible the Boilermakers find grad-transfer help to put alongside standout Markus Bailey next season, but as of now, it has just Alexander lined up as a newcomer. Alexander was the first player to commit in June, trig- gering an unprecedented run of summertime commit- ments to Purdue, after it had been the last Power 5 school to be without a commitment as of mid-summer. Alexander's not the biggest linebacker out there — 6-1, 230 or so — but his skill set could jibe with any of the linebacker positions, and he's athletic enough to have been a star wide receiver for Hoffman Estates High School in Chicagoland, but also explosive enough to have been an effective situational pass-rusher, as well. SECONDARY This, on paper, is the most transformative group among those already signed for 2018. If nothing else, Cory Trice, Byron Perkins, Jordan Rucker, Kadin Smith and Elijah Ball will change Pur- due's optics in the defensive backfield from Day 1. The Boilermaker coach staff wants height and length in its secondary and finds it in a group of five DBs who all check in at around 6-foot or taller, including a 6-4 safety in Trice, a 6-2-and-inordinately-long-armed corner in Perkins and the physically advanced trio of Rucker at corner, Smith at safety and Ball at one or the other, most likely safety. "They're pretty far along, probably a little further along than some of the positions as far as what they look like, the weight they're at," Brohm said. "I think they'll definitely come in and compete for spots, add to the competition, and it wouldn't surprise me if some of these guys are ready to (play)." Rucker might top that list, the 6-foot, 190-ish-pound- er stepping into a position where Purdue may be in particular need — cornerback. j

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