(Hat tip/fist bump to to NJ Boiler83 for the slogan)
I have been working with Bleacher Report blogger Tim Cary and the guys over at Boiled Sports on some kind of slogan for Saturday. We all want to push for a sellout this week against Michigan State. This team has fought hard, especially the seniors, and they deserve a proper send off. As I stated late Saturday night, we need to pack the house and support this team in order to make a push for a bowl game. We can start by creating a rowdy atmosphere this weekend for Michigan State. We can keep it going next week when we venture to Ross-Ade South for the Bucket game.
This game against Michigan State has the potential to be a program changer. Win it, and we can go to a bowl when absolutely no one expected it after the 1-5 start. That will set the tone for future classes just like the NCAA berth in 2007 did for basketball. If you're within 3 hours of West Lafayette, come to the game. Bring three friends and get in for just $25 each. If you come, stand up and be loud. Don't sit on your hands alumni. Get back to your student roots and get loud and crazy. Let's send the following seniors off right.
#2 Torri Williams - S -It seems like Torri has been here forever. He played as a true freshman on special teams in 2004, making him the last player left from The Fumble. It is therefore fitting that he is around for what could be the rebirth. A broken leg cost him 2005. A shredded knee cost him 2006. A torn achilles tendon cost him half of 2007. Legal issues nearly pushed him off the team. After a pair of redshirt years (one due to medical reasons) he is finally at the end of his Purdue career. If not for the injuries, he could have been one of Purdue's best DB's. Instead, he has provided leadership and versatility moving between safety and corner these past two seasons. Thank you, Torri.
#4 Dwight McLean - S - McLean came to us as a late JuCo transfer before last season. He is known as a hard hitter, but he had some critical interceptions in his career. A few weeks ago he had a big pick to stop a key Illinois drive in the first half. He also sealed last year's Central Michigan game with a late pick. He seems to be involved in every play, and we will miss his hustle.
#7 Brandon King - CB - If we make a bowl game this year it will be because of Brandon King. He had two critical interceptions against Ohio State and his forced fumble against Michigan turned that game around. I love Brandon because he never gave up both on and off the field. Academics cost him a year, but he did not become a Brandon Irwin. Instead, he got eligible, got back on the field and made a difference. We need more guys with his heart.
#9 David Pender - CB - Pender has really grown as a player. His tackling is still frustrating, but no one has more pass break ups in the last four years than Pender. Forced to start as a freshman in 2006, you won't find a more experienced corner int eh conference. He will have the distinction of batting away Ohio State's final pass to seal this year's huge upset. This is the first of three seniors graduating in which I won his jersey, and one of my favorites because every number I wear when competing in sports is #9.
#10 Royce Adams - WR - Adams' senior year has not turned out the way he expected. He has been hurt most of the year, hasn't contributed as much as we hoped on offense, and has had to move back to defense for some action. Still, he has never voiced his frustration. He has been the consummate team player throughout his career, playing where he was asked to play and quietly doing his job. He has been a cornerback, punt returner, and wideout.
#12 Chris Bennett - QB - It is likely that his career stats will read just one rush for 6 yards. That came at Michigan State last season when Bennett was forced to play because Justin Siller was shaken up for a few plays. The former walk-on 4th string scout team quarterback saw the only action of his career for three plays, then headed back to the bench after his short keeper. We'll only likely see him on the field again if an absolute disaster happens to Elliott and TerBush or if we have a big lead against Indiana or MSU and Hope rewards him with some garbage time minutes. Still, his contributions in practice will not go unnoticed. Thank you, Chris.
#13 Chris Summers - P - Has anyone had a more up and down career than Chris. As a freshman walk-on he struggled to hit 8 of 20 field goals. Coming back as sophomore he wont he job with few other options, yet had a great season. He hit on 18 of 22 attempts (one miss was blocked) and will always have the game winner in the Motor City bowl on his resume. He struggled again last year with both placekicking and punting, and has struggled this year with just punting duties. When he is good, he can be very good. This past week he had several nice kicks and got a good one off inside his own end zone facing a heavy rush. The final rugby-style punt maybe have been one of his best this season. Over the course of his career Chris has done everything asked of him and has performed above some pretty low expectations at times. You can't ask for more than that.
#14 Joey Elliott - QB - I know I am probably not alone in wondering how different things would have turned out if Elliott had become a starter earlier in his career. We came into this season asking for his best Billy Dicken impression and he has been fairly close. While he certainly would like some throws back, I have been most impressed by the element of mobility he has given us. We haven't had that at the quarterback position since Brandon kirsch, and Elliott seems to be almost as heady as Brees as far as knowing the right moment to tuck and run. If anyone deserves to lead this team to a bowl game, it is Elliott.
#17 Aaron Valentin - WR - Valentin is another brief JuCo transfer that has emerged as our most dangerous player after the catch. He has even gotten over the fumbling issues that plagued him earlier this season. Coming into the season we needed our few experienced receiver to step up and give us an actual passing game. Valentin did just that. He leads the team in TD receptions and still has an outside shot at a 1,000 yard season with a bowl game. We can't ask for more than that.
#24 Jason Werner - LB - This could be a short stay for Werner on this list. The back injuries that cost him 2006 and 2008 could allow him to receive a 6th year of eligibility next season like Torri Williams. Now that he has finally had a chance to play he has been exactly what we expected of him. He has become our best linebacker at a position that has had severe issues for several seasons. If he does come back next year linebacker will become a major position of strength for the first time since 2003.
#26 Adam Wolf - WR - Wolf is another former walk-on that has become a special teams ace. Like Frank Duong before him, he is a kamikaze special teams guy that looks to make a play on every kick. His work paid off as he was awarded a scholarship prior to this season.
#33 Jaycen Taylor - RB - If you're looking for the team leader in heart, there is no question it is Jaycen Taylor. Last season he was gone with a torn ACL and it seemed like something was missing all year. Injuries have limited him somewhat this year much like in 2007, but he has still played an integral role in our success. He has always been there to spell Ralph Bolden, and I respect him for accepting a backup role when many expected him to be the starter in the offseason. I met him once at Tippecanoe Mall after he broke his arm against Central Michigan in 2007. He's a nice kid and I will miss his leadership.
#44 Frank Halliburton - FB - I know this guy is one of Boilerdowd's favorites. It seems like he always should have played more than he actually has. I know injuries have slowed him this year when he was expected to play more, but he is another player that is known simply as a great guy and a great teammate. He has always been one of the more positive personalities on the team and has been a fan favorite for his dancing to Shout. I hope we get to see that one more time on Saturday. If you read this, Frank, don't disappoint me.
#47 Jarrod Shaw - FB - I admit I don't know much about Shaw. He was awarded a scholarship as a former walk-on before the season like Wolf, but I don't remember ever seeing him on the field. I could be confused on special teams, as I know he does share #47 with starting linebacker Chris Carlino. His efforts have certainly paid off in practice though. You don't get awarded a scholarship as a walk-on without contributing there.
#50 Eric Hedstrom - OG - Hedstrom has yet to play this season after offseason shoulder surgery, thus making him another candidate for a medical redshirt. He has been a critical starting offensive linesman in the past, however. If he is able to return next season he will provide much needed depth on a line that must replace three starters. He is also versatile in that he can play almost any position on the line.
#54 Jared Zwilling - C - A former defensive lineman, Zwilling switched over to offense and has had few problems in his first year as a starting center. His one bad snap was unfortunately returned for a TD at Oregon, but otherwise he has been rock solid in the middle of the line. He is yet another case of a guy performing in a variety of positions and doing everything we have asked of him.
#61 Zach Jones - OT - Another versatile lineman that has had to play everywhere in his career, Jones was one of the guys I saw enjoying the Ohio State upset the most on the field. It has been nice to put him at tackle this season and not have to worry about the right side of the line. Just a nice guy who is enjoying a fine senior season.
#62 Andy Huffman - LS - Can you name the last time long snapping has been an issue? The 1998 Alamo Bowl, probably. Purdue has turned long-snapping into an art, and Huffman was a solid snapper for three seasons before this year. It won him a scholarship for this season, but injuries have given the position to John finch. Still, Huffman was more than able in the three seasons before this one.
#75 Zach Reckman - OG - Reckman has been the center of controversy this week thanks to the completely stupid pissing contest between Danny hope and Rich Rodriguez. It's unfortunate too. If you take away his NIU incident he has been exactly what we have needed: a solid offensive guard doing his job. Not bad for a two-star guy expected to do very little in his career.
#92 Mike Neal - DT - Possibly the strongest guy on the team, Neal has drawn the attention of every team we have faced. Part of the reason Ryan Kerrigan is performing like a beast is because Mike Neal is drawing so much attention at defensive tackle. He is a damn good defensive tackle that will soon be drafted. He makes everyone around him better because he is so good and draws so much attention.
#95 Keyon Brown - DE - The hero of the 2007 Motor City Bowl with three sacks of Dan LeFevour, Brown hasn't had as dominating of a game since. He has still provided key depth at defensive end for Kerrigan and Gerald Gooden. It is always good to have a solid third defensive end. One has to think Brown has one great game left in him as well.
These 21 seniors have given us everything they have for the last four years. We owe them everything we have as a crowd on Saturday. Let's send them off right. Show up for the Seniors. Sell Out Ross-Ade. Beat State.