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5 Days to Purdue Football: Al-Terek McBurse and Antwon Higgs

This is the first double player day where both players are expected to contribute a lot. Higgs is going to be one of our top linebackers, while McBurse is the presumptive starter at running back until Ralph Bolden returns. Because of the respective depth at both positions, it is probably more important for McBurse to have a big year.

Al-Terek McBurse - So.

Hometown: Winter Spring, FL (Winter Springs HS)

Running Back

6', 193 pounds

2010 Projection: Starter at running back

There will be no more waiting for ATM, as I call him. We need him to deliver as long as Bolden is out. He was the star of the 2009 recruiting class and one of five four-star players we can roll out on offense. He didn't do a lot with a handful of carries last year, but as a kickoff returner he had 468 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown against Indiana was just a glimpse of what he can do.

As a senior in high school he earned a four-star rating with 2,238 yards and 23 touchdowns. He averaged better than 12 yards per carry. No you know why I have high expectations for him and believe he can be a major player from day one. He's been battling a series of injuries since he came to Purdue, but so did Bolden. Let's remember what Bolden did last year. After barely gaining anything on a handful of carries as a freshman, Ralph busted a huge touchdown run on his first play in 2009. I think McBurse is more than capable of doing the same.

Simply put, we need McBurse to be an answer. Everyone is questioning our running back situation. Injuries have us down to true freshman Reggie Pegram (who could also be an answer), McBurse, Dan Dierking, and walk-ons at running back. Dierking, Derek Jackson, and Jared Crank will get some carries and block as fullbacks, but we need a Bolden-like back. ATM is majoring in communications too, so I really hope football works out for him. He might be the most important player to a successful season short of Robert Marve.

Antwon Higgs - So.

Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL (Pompano Beach HS)


6'3", 234 pounds

2010 Projection: Contributor at linebacker

Higgs is currently listed behind Dwayne Beckford at middle linebacker, but he is going to play a lot. He made too much of an impact last year as a true freshman not to play. He enrolled early, went through spring practice, and recorded nine tackles with 1.5 sacks. That doesn't properly represent his time spent on the field, however. He played a significant amount on special teams and was a primary backup and spot player in every game. Some have compared him to Shaun Phillips, so I wonder if a move to defensive end is in order. He's big enough to put a hand in the dirt, and we do have a habit of converting big linebackers into rush ends.

With the depth we have at linebacker I can see us playing around with a few formations. I can see us going 3-4 if we choose, or maybe even a 4-4. I can see a 4-4 of Higgs, Beckford, Jason Werner, Joe Holland, Ryan Kerrigan, Kawann Short, Kevin Pamphile, and Gerald Gooden shoring up a run defense that has been pretty bad. I still say, or at least hope, that teams run on us until we prove we can stop it. That will allow the secondary time to develop.

Higgs was a bit of a surprise when he committed. He long had South Carolina in the lead for his services, but he spurned the Gamecocks for Purdue. I am glad he came, and I can't wait to see what he does in five days.


Higgs on signing day

Boilermakings Notes:

Boilers Battle To 1-1 Draw With Miami
The grudge match between me and Mrs. T-Mill ended in a tie Friday.

Purdue's Kyle Adams gains perspective from football and mission trips to Haiti -
Purdue Tight End Kyle Adams has been in West Lafayette five years and has learned a lot through football and his work with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where he made relief trips to Haiti, South America.