Ideally you want to have enough upper classmen at a school like Purdue so freshmen can redshirt and get acclimated to the rigors of playing at the next level. Danny Hope has never been afraid to have a bonfire of redshirts, however. In 2010 especially, though it was often out of necessity, True freshmen O.J. Ross, Ricardo Allen, Bruce Gaston, Ryan Isaac, Sean Robinson, and Cody Webster saw action in their first year on campus.
The truth is that Purdue football recruiting, while getting better, is not at the level where freshmen are expected to come in and have a large impact. Those are often four-star and five-star guys, of which Purdue gets very few. Worse yet, the few that Purdue does get tend to not work out. Not counting the two guys that received a four-star rating in this year's incoming class, here are the following highly rated guys of the previous five classes, and thus should be on the field now:
2011 - None
2010 - Ross - Should be a major contributor at receiver, but was nearly lost last December.
2009 - Al-Terek McBurse - Entering his senior season and looks to be promising... at Florida A&M.
2008 - Ken Plue - Served a super-secret probation for all of last season before forgoing his final year of eligibility (this year) to go to the NFL Draft. He was undrafted after being a three-year starter at offensive guard. I have my theories that can't be published here.
As you can see, the can't miss talent doesn't exactly roll through West Lafayette these days. In fact, the last four-star recruit to actually start and finish his career at Purdue was 2006 recruit Jeff Lindsay, who started as a linebacker before moving to fullback and tight end. Only he, Ryan Baker, and Dorien Bryant (both 2004) have accomplished that feat in the last 10 years.
Despite the lack of "instant impact" talent, the 2012 class will definitely see a few guys get on the field. Here are my top choices for who will play in the first game next week against Eastern Kentucky:
Thomas Meadows - Kicker - Danny Hope has stated that the kickoff specialist job is definitely going to Meadows, so he is a lock.
Paul Griggs - Kicker - Griggs was expected to come in and start from day one in place of Carson Wiggs, but redshirt freshman townie walk-on Sam McCartney is giving him a hell of a run. Coming out of camp coach Hope stated that McCartney was likely ahead, but that he would definitely be open to trying two kickers. Griggs was one of the highest rated specialists nationally in the 2012 class, so it is a credit to McCartney for nearly beating him, especially as a walk-on.
Cameron Posey - Wide Receiver - It seemed as if Posey was getting mentioned in every daily update. A three-star prospect, Posey was unheralded after missing much of his senior season in high school. Since Tommie Thomas and Ishmael Aristide, two of the top reserves at receiver, are out indefinitely, Posey has gotten more play and his 6'2" could be a major luxury at the position.
Danny Anthrop - Wide Receiver - Anthrop did a little bit of everything at nearby Lafayette Central Catholic and was another true freshman that was in every camp update. Anthrop can likely line up at receiver or running back. Given that Ralph Bolden is still out for awhile it seems like RB could be in his future.
B.J. Knauf - wide receiver - I have compared him to Vinny Sutherland, and not just because he is a fast, short white guy from Florida. Knauf has risen up because of the injuries to Thomas and Aristide while upperclassmen like Shane Mikesky and Charles Torwudzo haven't. Knauf could also be a punt returner, much like Vinny, who made an impact in 1997.
Jonathan Curry - Fullback - Hope mentioned in the day 15 report that Curry moved from tight end to fullback because of a need. This seems significant with Derek Jackson listed as the only scholarship fullback.
Carlos Carvajal - Tight End - He's been slowed by an injury, but a 6'7", four-star tight end coming out of prep school is definitely worth a look.
Ryan Watson - Defensive End - The four-star recruit was the catch of this last recruiting class and this is a position of need. You have to think he gets a shot.
Anthony Brown - Defensive Back - Brown seemed to have a very good camp, but there is a ton of depth back there and he is going to have to continue impressing to beat out guys like Antoine Lewis, Taylor Richards, Frankie Williams, and Normondo Harris who have experience.
Robert Gregory - Running Back - He moved from quarterback to running back to try and get on the field, so I think he plays if the game is a blowout.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have guys that will definitely redshirt. For shits and giggles, here is that list:
Austin Appleby - Quarterback - He's currently at No. 4 or 5 on the depth chart, so he likely won't play unless Marve, TerBush, and Rob Henry all get hurt. Oh great, I just caused that to happen, didn't I?
Cameron Cermin - Offensive Line - Offensive linemen almost always redshirt in order to adjust body ratios.
Jimmy Herman - Linebacker - He's in the same boat as Garcia.
Aloyis Gray - Quarterback - Hope said he wanted to try and stay at quarterback, but the endorsement coming out of camp wasn't encouragement by saying, "He has a lot of work to do." I am thinking a position switch and redshirt is in order."
Bilal Marshall - Quarterback - The same as Gray.
James Prince - Offensive Line - He's in the same boat as Cermin.
Jordan Roos - Offensive Line - Once again, most offensive linemen redshirt.
Joey Warburg - Offensive Line - I'm not saying it again!
Jason King - Offensive Line - As you can see, this is a line heavy class.
Jordan Woods - Wide Receiver - Pretty much nothing has been said about him, so I think he redshirts.
Finally, there are some JuCo guys and one special exception in this year's recruiting class:
Greg Latta - Linebacker - He likely adds key depth at a position of need.
Devin Smith - Offensive Line - He's a massive tackle that will be critical for offensive line depth.
Jordan Shine - Defensive Back - Sadly, Shine's career is over before it began. He was the first commit in the 2012 class, but a neck issue meant that he did not clear a physical and his career is over. He will remain on medical redshirt at least can get a full scholarship to earn his degree.