8 days left until Purdue football truly gets underway for another season. The start of classes and the growing excitement from football fans is really starting to make the West Lafayette campus electrified with school and team spirit.
Fittingly, today's featured player in the Kickoff Countdown is quite possibly the most electrifying athlete Purdue has ever seen. He is every part amazing, and also part demigod. And this season, not only is he gearing up for another awesome campaign as a return specialist, but he should see his role within the Boiler offense great expand. Hopefully sophomore #8 Raheem Mostert can help bring a renewed high standard of success to our football team. I mean, he's at least sure to be one of our keys to success in 2012.
Unfortunately, the above picture of Mostert is the only one they have of #8 at SB Nation. Getting manhandled by a gang of Badgers isn't exactly the most flattering photo of Raheem, which is why I severely debated whether I should include it in the article or not. But, after doing some research, I found that in all likelihood the picture have been snapped a the end of a huge play by Mostert. Although Purdue lost 17-62 to Wisconsin in Camp Randall last November, Mostert returned five kickoffs for a walloping 206 yards in that game--including a one that went for 74 yards--making his average return a gain of 41.2 yards and the average starting field position for the Purdue offense somewhere close to midfield. It's a damn shame our O couldn't do much with that against the Badgers. But, for Mostert, the performance was amazing and he did all he possibly could to help the team succeed.
In fact, the performance may not seem like a huge surprise to most. Raheem was absolutely electrifying in his true freshman season for the Boilers last year. What he did to Wisconsin on kickoffs last year was pretty standard for the guy. He returned 25 kickoffs for 837 yards and 1 touchdown, giving him the highest kickoff return yard average in the country in 2011 at 33.5 yards gained per kick. Mostert also had four returns of 71 yards or more as a freshman, including that 74 yarder against Wisco.
Now in his true sophomore season this year, Mostert is expected to do much the same to opposing kickoff coverage teams in 2012. He is a serious candidate to win multiple awards for kickoff returners and be named an all-american as a KR. This shouldn't be much of a surprise, given Mostert's track record and abilities. He is arguably the fastest and most athletic current player for the Boilermakers. And Purdue is working to display his skills on a larger scale this season.
Mostert is also listed as a Wide Receiver, and he supposed to have very sure hands along with his speed, agility and other gifts. He hasn't caught a pass yet in college, but this year he figures to be the #4 receiver for Purdue after Antavian Edison, O.J. Ross and Gary Bush. His ability to play receiver will be greatly tested this year, but there is no reason to doubt that he can excel as both a return specialist and a wideout.
Mostert can also be successful as an option of the backfield. Last season he was given 16 carries, gaining 108 rushing yards and scoring two rushing touchdowns for the Boilers. With the thin depth Purdue has at RB, expect similar or even higher production from him as a running back as Purdue uses him, Edison, Danny Anthrop and B.J. Knauf to manufacture extra depth at the position. I would also love to see Mostert return punts this season, but last I heard the coaches weren't sure about who they wanted to fill that void.
Overall, there is no doubt in my mind that Mostert will be explosive in multiple phases of every game for Purdue in 2012. In a nutshell, he is our version of Devin Hester. He's like a stick of dynamite, ready to explode for a huge play or a touchdown at any time. When he does, other teams should just look out because there's no stopping him. Also, his mere presence while returning kicks makes opponents dread with fear and attempt to gameplan around him, which easily creates mistakes for said teams.
Raheem should be one of Purdue's most reliable and dynamic assets this fall. Hopefully, the coaches can correctly utilize him to his full potential and he can make the most of every opportunity that comes his way.