Today's featured player is a returning defensive linesman that could have a big impact this season. With Kawann Short off to the NFL Bruce Gaston needs a partner in the middle of the defensive line. Ryan Isaac could be that guy.
Ryan Isaac - Sr.
Michigan City, Indiana (Michigan City HS)
6'5", 294 pounds
2013 Projection: Starter at defensive tackle.
Isaac enters his fourth season with the Boilermakers as a regular contributor. He stepped onto campus in the fall of 2010 and immediately played despite being only a true freshman. He didn't see much action early on, but after the rash of injuries hit Purdue he got on the field for the final five games as a reserve. He finished with seven tackles and a sack, including three stops in his first collegiate game at Illinois.
As a sophomore in 2011 Isaac played a little more, getting into eight games and making nine tackles. One tackle was for loss in the game against Minnesota where he had a career high four tackles.
The 2012 season was the first in which Isaac played extensively, getting into 12 of 13 games as a reserve. This gave him a career high 14 tackles at a position where a large number of tackles don't regularly happen. He also had two pass break-ups and two passes defensed.
The goal for Isaac this year is simple: he needs to be a disruptive force in the middle that is solid against the run and able to get to the quarterback. Short is gone and he will be given every opportunity to start in his place. There is plenty of competition at the position with guys like Brandon Taylor sharing an almost equal amount of experience, but Isaac will be a valuable rotation player at the very least that will help the D-line from wearing down.