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3 Days to Purdue Football: Dwayne Beckford and Waynelle Gravesande

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I like the perseverance that both of today's players have shown. Dwayne Beckford had to overcome an eligibility hiccup, but he still came to Purdue. Waynelle Gravesande has seen players younger than him get more time, but he still has found a place.

Dwayne Beckford - So.

Hometown: Irvington, NJ (Irvington HS)

Linebacker

6'1", 228 pounds

2010 Projection: Starter at linebacker

It is hard to believe that Beckford is only a true sophomore. He originally committed as a member of the 2008 class, but some issues with a high school course did not get him eligible in time for the season, so he sat out much like Gabe Holmes did last year. He enrolled in the spring of 2009 and went through spring practice, allowing him to play as a true freshman last year. By the end of the season he was practically a co-starter with Chris Carlino in the middle. He ended up with 34 tackles, having a big game at Michigan with 8.

With a pair of spring practices under his belt he has emerged as the starting middle linebacker on a defense that is loaded with good players at the position. He came to us from Irvington High in New Jersey where his number-mate Gravesande also played. He had first-team All-State honors with 104 tackles and 17 sacks as a senior. Michigan State also showed some interest in him, and I can't imagine their defense with him and Greg Jones right now.

Beckford earned the most improved award in spring practice this year, making a big season that much more possible. At Middle linebacker you need playmakers. It is his time for Beckford to be one.

Waynelle Gravesande - Jr..

Hometown: Irvington, NJ (Irvington HS)

Wide Receiver

6'0", 189 pounds

2010 Projection: Punt returner

Gravesande is an interesting player. He has had a slow progression each year, playing just a little more than the last. He redshirted his first year, then had just two catches for 13 yards in the massive blowout of Indiana in 2008. Last year, as a redshirt sophomore, he made a splash because he could catch punts. That doesn't sound like much, but when we struggled to find someone who could actually catch punts for most of the season it became a big deal. He had one 11 yards reception against Ohio State, but returned 11 punts for 51 yards over the course of the season. He is expected to be more of a punt returner this year, but a leg injury has slowed him. Antavian Edison may pass him too as he has a little more speed.

As a senior in high school Gravesande had a big year with 52 catches for 797 yards and 10 touchdowns. He gives us a steady, safe presence on the field with good hands, so I can see him having a 10-20 catch season this year even given the depth we have at the position.

Off the field, Gravesande is a contributor as well. He does mentoring for the Play It Safe Program put on by the National Football Foundation.

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