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23 Days To Purdue Football: Ralph Bolden

It's damn good to see Ralph Bolden back in practice and kicking ass. He seemed to be the highlight of yesterday's full-pad scrimmage in Ross-Ade. The only thing more exciting is that if the season started today, Ricardo Allen would be on punt return duty. He's been able to have a much longer rehab time because of when the injury occurred, so hopefully that means he can stay healthy this year.

Ralph Bolden - Jr.

Hometown: Folkston, GA (Charlton Co. HS)

Running Back

5'9" 194 pounds

2011 Projection: starter at running back

Last season was not a total disaster in the running game. We still rushed for over 2,100 yards as a team, but it was still a running game held together by spit, duct tape, and prayer at times. Dan Dierking gave us everything he had in 530 yards and three TD's, while Keith Carlos, Al-Terek McBurse, Jared Crank, and Antavian Edison did the rest. Much of our running game was Rob Henry running for his life at times, which is a dangerous proposition. I don't mind a Drew Brees-type of QB running game because he had a sixth sense of knowing when exactly to tuck and run and when to slide to avoid a big hit.

It is hoped that a healthy Bolden, along with Akeem Shavers, will provide some relief and allow our passing game to develop. Pegram and Crank can blow open holes for them too. The first carry of 2009 was a long touchdown run as he rushed for 234 yards against Toledo. That game finished as the third best single game rushing performance in Purdue history. His 935 yards for that season ranks 14th, and it would have been higher had he not been injured for the Bucket Game. He likely would have topped 1,000 yards against the Hoosiers and moved as high as sixth.

If Bolden can be a 1,000 yard back this year he will move into rare territory. Purdue has had just eight 1,000 yard rushing seasons in its history (though Montrell Lowe came up two yards short in 2000). Two each belong to Otis Armstrong and Mike Alstott, while Kory Sheets, Joey Harris, Leroy Keyes, and Scott Dierking own the others. Bolden could conceivably finish 2011 in the top 10 career-rushing wise with Keyes 10th at 2,094 if he turns in the ninth 1,000 yard season.