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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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Page 67 of 88

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 68 The answer is probably not — the style made Purdue's defense special last season — but if the aggression isn't toned down, certainly it'd be likely to expect the creativity will have to be for now. At least until Holt learns to trust this new unit. The spring will be essential in building that trust with a unit that has to replace two-thirds of its starters. How well sophomore linebackers Derrick Barnes, Cor- nel Jones and Tobias Larry adjust to the more expanded roles could go a long way toward expediting the unit's development. The same could be said for how quickly Purdue finds replacements for cornerbacks Da'Wan Hunte and Josh Okoyne, two players who rarely left the field on Satur- days. The same could be said for whether any of those un- proven defensive line options can emerge. Lorenzo Neal is the only one, really, who has considerable game snaps. Kai Higgins has at least shown flashes in practices that he could thrive in a more expanded role, but he was slow to start the spring with an ankle injury. Other than that, Purdue has some digging to do. So can the digging be done while still implementing or re-installing the same aggressive scheme as a year ago? That is the question. How will the RBs be managed? With Worship and Fuller still recovering from in-season surgeries and Brian Lankford-Johnson and Jack Wegher departing the program, Purdue has only two scholarship running backs on the roster this spring, last season's top two leading rushers in Markell Jones and D.J. Knox. But Brohm said Knox had offseason surgery, so Pur- due will keep a close eye on him. And though Jones is healthy, he's had his share of knee injuries, too, and with his value to the offense, he'll likely need his snaps watched as well. But someone has to take snaps for the offense to function this spring. "The numbers are very thin this spring at that position, so we've got to be very careful how we practice and what we do," Brohm said. "That probably will be the most challenging spot to control in the spring just be- cause there's not very many bodies on our team that are healthy and able to go. "Alexander Horvath is a young man who redshirted last year who we think can be a running back (or) full- back, so we want to take a good, hard look at him, but at the same time, we don't want to wear him out as well." Filling holes Though there are myriad positions looking for new starters, perhaps few will be more intriguing than cor- nerback. Not only will that be a spot that an influx of potential talent will be on campus this summer in the form of a highly anticipated freshman class, but there already is a group of youngsters whom coaches have high expec- tations: The three freshmen who redshirted, Kenneth Major, Dedrick Mackey and Jacob Abrams. Major is dynamic because of his 4.4-type speed and his near 200-pound frame, a nice mix to play physical- ly at the line but also the speed to stick with receivers. Abrams' frame is unique to the secondary, one of the few players who stands a legitimate 6-foot-plus with consid- erable length. Mackey could be the best coverage guy out of that group, using a natural feel for the game to make plays. Even with those options, Purdue could lean on the two players who have game experience, at first at least, with seniors Tim Cason and Kamal Hardy. But the heat will be on those upperclassmen from Day 1. j 1241 Cumberland Ave, Suite B West Lafayette, IN 47906 Phone: 765-497-0197 A Fee-Based Investment Advisor located in the Purdue Research Park 25+ Years of Investment Management Experience Bill Banker, President Purdue University Alumnus '85 Purdue Baseball Alumnus '81-'85

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