Now that we are within three weeks of the start of another Purdue football season, excitement is really beginning to heighten all across Boiler Nation. We have a very good team this year, and today brings us that much closer to seeing it in action.
In particular, today the Kickoff Countdown takes us deeper through the Boilermaker's running game, which is expected to have a major impact on the team's successes this season. With only 20 days left until the start of the season, we look at a guy who factors to be some sort of secret weapon for our ground game. Please welcome, the redshirt senior RB, #20 Gavin Roberts.
Gavin Roberts - Sr. (RS)
Hometown: Somerset, NJ (Franklin HS)
6'0", 226 pounds
2012 Projection: Contributor at Running Back
The other day I looked at Akeem Shavers and discussed just how important he will be to the Boilers' success this year. While Gavin Roberts won't be Purdue's feature back in his final year of eligibility, he is certainly still a very important figure within our ground game.
Roberts currently has Shavers and sophomore Akeem Hunt--presumably Shavers' backup this year--ahead of him on the depth chart, but his production in 2012 will still be very key to the success of entire running attack.
As you may or may not know, running back is one of Purdue's most shallow positions coming into the 2012 campaign. Besides Shavers, the only other RBs who may see playing time this year are a few guys who are shaky at best when you take about reliable depth. There's Hunt, who is coming out of his true freshman season and lacks the experience or size to be an every down workhorse like Shavers. Then, there's Ralph Bolden, a guy who might not see any playing time in the first few games, and might be limited to only a few carries a game the rest of the season as he potentially sees his way out of Purdue football due to behavioral issues and major injuries. And finally, we have Roberts, a redshirt senior who has hasn't even touched the football in his Purdue career.
But don't get me wrong. Roberts possesses great size and skills to play running back effectively. In fact, he is so big for a running back that he might see some time at fullback this season. My point. however, is that Roberts must be the unsung hero of our rushing attack this season if it wants to have great success. He needs to be the guy that can carry a decent 5-10+ rushes per game against teams who are not strategizing for him, and thus, have great games as a reserve. We all know that Shavers will be the feature back. Teams will be gunning for him because of that. And Hunt will see much action as his back. But Roberts needs to be solid, too. If one of these two guys goes down, his production will suddenly spike and he must be ready for that. And even if everyone stays healthy this year, Roberts needs to be that guy teams don't prepare for and will pay for it.
It is apparent that Purdue will also utilize some receivers in the backfield in order to manufacture extra depth. Guys like Antavian Edison and Raheem Mostert should see a few carries in almost every game. But Roberts needs to be the x-factor--that solid reserve who can create some big plays in relief of Shavers and Hunt, so that Purdue has a solid rush attack all game long and can eventually breakdown opponents' defensive fronts.
Even though he has little experience to this point, if Roberts can use his size and skills to be this kind of guy for the Boilermaker backfield, I think that he will bring Purdue that much closer to achieving great amounts of success in 2012.