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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 3

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 3 39 BY STACY CLARDIE D errick Barnes could have been like the bulk of Purdue's freshman class this season and spent 2017 focused on getting stronger, gaining knowledge of schemes and learning how to balance football and academics while redshirting. But Barnes felt like he could do those things without the sitting-on-the-bench part of that equation. Even if he was stuck behind a group of experienced linebackers. Coaches, ultimately, felt the same way, and they abandoned the redshirt idea with Barnes and four other rookies. None of the true freshmen made a substantial impact on Purdue's 7-6 season, but Barnes saw the most signif- icant playing time, actually starting a game in place of an injured player and going start-to-finish without an injury himself during the season. Ultimately, he said, it was worth it to burn that year spent growing and learning while watching from the sidelines on Saturdays, and he thinks the rest of the group — fellow linebackers Cornel Jones and Tobias Larry, receiver KeyRon Catlett and tight end Darius Pit- tman — shared those sentiments. "It gave us experience, and I think experience is the key," Barnes said during bowl prep. "Playing out there and getting in really helped, and the game was really fast, and it helped me learn the speed of the game. I think it will definitely help more for the guys who played this year. I wouldn't say it wouldn't be a challenge for who didn't play this year. But with the five guys, it'll definitely help us, learning how to develop the plays. It was pretty nice playing as a freshman. "We have a lot of guys who want to get better, who want to compete. We're just hoping to come in here and be the part who changes this program around. This year was pretty good, we're proud going to a bowl game, but I think our freshman class could be the one to turn this program (completely) around." Purdue kept most of its freshmen on the sidelines as first-year coach Jeff Brohm and his the staff found the right mix of who to play and who to sit in Year 1. The players who needed to develop physically and mentally did so without the pressure of producing in games, and the ones who could help early did. "I like our freshman class," Brohm said during the team's bowl prep when the youngsters got exclusive team work after each practice. "All five guys, even though they didn't play as much as they would like, they Right Balance Found For Newcomers Five true freshmen played, transfers made impact Tom Campbell Derrick Barnes got the most playing time on a non-special teams unit among the rookies who didn't redshirt.

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