With only two days left until kickoff today is the final day featuring two players. Both are senior starters too, so let's get right to it.
Justin Siller - Sr.
Hometown: Detroit, MI (St. Mary's HS)
6'4", 223 pounds
2011 Projection: Starter at wide receiver
Justin Siller is a patient man.In addition to the troubles he faced with his academic expulsion in 2009 he had to wait a year in Lafayette, taking classes at Ivy Tech, just to get back into Purdue as a student. He then shifted to receiver, where he was hampered all year by a foot injury that cost him all but one snap of the Big Ten season. That one snap was taken at quarterback against Michigan, where he re-injured the foot on the first play.
Now he is back for the final year having sat out most of the last two. Before that, he was a quarterback that started three games in 2008. This year he is a receiver again, while he is taking snaps as the #3 quarterback just in case. My gut tells me that we also have a play or two designed with him under center anyway, given his experience.
Siller is the big receiver we have desperately needed for some time. He made headlines by winning his first start at quarterback at Michigan. He became the first Purdue quarterback to win his debut since Brandon Hance (unless Brandon Kirsch won his first start in 2002). He threw for 266 yards and three scores against the Wolverines as Purdue won a dramatic game and officially eliminated Michigan from bowl contention for the first time in over three decades.
I think Siller plays all over this year and throws at least one pass somewhere along the line, whether he lines up under center or via a trick play.
Gerald Gooden - Sr.
Hometown: Hooks, TX (Hooks HS)
6'3", 235 pounds
2011 Projection: Starter at defensive end
Gooden was one of many players that played hurt last season, and it affected his play. I expected him to have a big year with teams doubling Ryan Kerrigan, but he had a modest 25 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles as he started all 12 games. He is one of a handful of players to have played in all 36 games of the past three years, and he has gathered eight sacks in that time.
Obviously few people can replace Kerrigan by themselves, but if Gooden can do so it will be a great benefit. His 37 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2009 showed his ability, so now is the time for him to truly step up.