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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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Page 52 of 88

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 53 Again, Purdue could use some imme- diate help on the defensive and Stokes' physical maturity represents a strong starting point. But he also could be a multi-positional fit, whether it be D-end, defensive tackle or a rush-end type. On the defensive line, the numbers involved might be the bigger deal than any individ- ual over the others, and much will have to shake out before any clarity comes to which players might make the most signif- icant impact. Height: 6-3 Weight: 250 High School: Stanhope Elmore Hometown: Millbrook, Ala. Senior Stats: 92 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, four interceptions, four fumble recoveries and forced two fumbles. W hen KJ Stokes committed to Purdue in July, he said the Boilermakers liked him because of his versatility. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder can put his hand in the dirt as a defen- sive end or stand up like a linebacker. "They said they like how I'm quick and explosive, how fast I get off the ball," Stokes said. He might be a great fit for the Boilermakers' hybrid Leo position, one that puts an emphasis on getting to the quarterback and also being able to cover space. But it's possible too that Stokes could grow into an athletic interior defensive lineman. "He has a little versatility to move both ways outside and inside, use his athleticism," Coach Jeff Brohm said. "Depending on how big he gets, we'll see, but I do like KJ Stokes." When Stokes picked Purdue, doing so on an unofficial visit in the summer, he did so over offers from South- ern Miss, Troy, Army and others and interest from several SEC programs. "I liked the school a lot," Stokes said. "Everything has to do with academics and I know it's a top-tier universi- ty. I like how they put academics even ahead of (football)." Stokes has been a highly productive player for Stanhope Elmore in Montgomery, Ala., creating eight turnovers as a junior. He had burst into a bigger spotlight in 2014, when he had two sacks and eight tackles in the Nation- al Underclassmen Combine All-American Game in Myrtle Beach. He was named the event's Class of 2018 most valuable player. The Purdue Fit Did You Know? Plays basketball for his dad, Coach Kelvin Stokes, at Stanhope Elmore. KJ Stokes Defensive line "Stokes is a kid with some strength and versatility. He can work inside or outside on the defensive front. He is pretty agile for his size and he can fire off the ball. It will be fun to watch how he develops in the coming years because he has some upside." — Southeast analyst Chad Simmons take

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