Yesterday I talked about the incumbents at each position. Today is a chance to look at players that have had little-to-no playing so far that could find themselves playing a larger role in the fall. This list does not include freshmen not on campus yet, so it is hard to say where guys like Keyante Green will play, but there are a large number of players either coming out of redshirt or that have been buried on the depth chart that can have an impact.
Austin Appleby (Fr.)
Bilal Marshall (Fr.)
Danny Etling (Fr.)
As you can see this is a very wide open position. Appleby and Etling are more traditional drop-back passers while Marshall is a dual-threat guy like Henry. Marshall also seems like the big underdog because he doesn't have the hype that Appleby or Etling has or Henry's experience. He's been described as a touch passer, but the element of making something happen with your legs can be a great equalizer.
Look at Taylor Martinez, Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller, and Tre Roberson in our own league. I don't think anyone would confuse them with the second coming of Dan Marino, but they are all very good college QBs. Many people forget that our own Drew Brees was excellent at knowing when to tuck and run.
At least we know one guy is going to have the job. That is the biggest relief here. May the best man win.
Jonathan Curry (Fr.)
Robert Gregory (Fr.)
David Yancey (Fr.)
Here you have two guys coming off of a redshirt year and a true freshman that enrolled early, like Etling. Yancey has already factored large into several positions here in the spring and a redshirt seems unlikely. He's a good pass catcher out of the backfield and could supplement as the No. 3 back with Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom.
Curry was originally a tight end, but is now apparently a running back, and a huge one at 6'2" 245 pounds. I see him as a fullback with Kurt Freytag.
Gregory is on his second position and nearly played last year after switching from quarterback. He could play, but there are a lot of dedicated running backs coming in the fall.
Shane Mikesky (So.)
Charles Torwudzo (Jr.)
Jordan Woods (Fr.)
Cameron Posey (Fr.)
Danny Hope occasionally mentioned Posey as a player last season, but he kept his redshirt. It is likely for the best as he is a tall, skinny receiver. Mikesky and Torwudzo each played a little last year and with Antavian Edison graduating plus O.J. Ross' suspension they give Purdue some much needed experience at the position. Mikesky caught two passes for five yards and was often a deep threat when I saw him play at Zionsville.
Torwudzo was used a little more with two catches for 19 yards in nine games as opposed to six for Mikesky. All four of these guys are bigger receivers than we're used to playing. I think it is about time, too. Purdue has often had more success with bigger receivers in the passing game, but instead coach Hope and the Nordfense often went with smaller, faster guys. This led to no downfield passing threat and a bunch of bubble screens for 2 yards.
I am hoping that bigger receivers can create some mismatches downfield as long as we have a QB that can get them the ball.
Carlos Carvajal (Fr.)
Ryan Morris (Fr.)
Patrick Bade (Sr.)
This is Carvajal's second spring practice and after a prep year and a redshirt year he is one of the older freshmen on the team. He's a huge red zone target too at 6'7" 244 pounds and was a four-star commit. It is time for him to make a mark.
Morris could see some action if Gabe Holmes continues to struggle with drops, while our old friend Patrick Bade is back for one final year. Recent reports have him in more of a blocking role at tight end, but if he can contribute I welcome it.
Cameron Cermin (Fr.)
Jason King (Fr.)
J.J. Prince (Fr.)
Joey Warburg (Fr.)
Jordan Roos (Fr.)
This is where I am most excited to see a breakout player and it is the one lasting gift Danny Hope could have left us. He has five offensive linemen coming out of their redshirt year, all over 6'4" and all close to 300 pounds. That's a lot of beef to plow the road for some pretty good backs or to protect a freshman quarterback getting his first playing time.
With this many freshmen there is certainly a lack of experience, but it also means they have time to mesh as a full unit and be dominant in 2-3 years. Football is a game often won or lost along the line, not where the ball is. Brees was good partially because he had four NFL linemen keeping him clean all game long. That will be the challenge of these young men.
John Strauser (Fr.)
Michael Rouse III (So.)
Ryan Watson (So.)
Purdue is in desperate need of a pass rush. Enter Strauser, who is a third true freshman already enrolled after graduating early, as well as the star of the 2012 recruiting class. Watson and Rouse played sparingly last season, but Watson got into nine games and added two tackles. The same is true for rouse. Both will likely have a bigger role this season, especially Watson, who was brought in as a highly touted pass-rusher.
Purdue could definitely use Ryan Russell and Ryan Watson on the ends getting to the quarterback like the great Purdue defensive ends of old. Watson, at 6'3" 294 certainly has the physical size to be dominant. he could even play at defensive tackle.
Andy Garcia (Fr.)
Jimmy Herman (Fr.)
Ruben Ibarra (Sr.)
Armstead Williams (So.)
Ibarra and Williams each played a little last season. Ibarra had two tackles in one game as a JuCo guy and Williams had eight tackles in 11 games. As I said yesterday, Purdue desperately needs effective linebackers. We're way behind the rest of the Big Ten in this department and frankly, it is why our defense has sucked for years. We always have some good pieces, but the middle of the field is consistently wide open on third and long. Often our linebackers get trucked or even get flat out beat by running backs.
Garcia looks way undersized for the Big Ten, but Williams at least looks the part. There is definitely an opportunity for someone to rise here because with 65 tackles, Will Lucas had the most stops of a linebacker on the team last year. It is not unusual for good Big Ten linebackers to have twice that.
Anthony Brown (So.)
Frankie Williams (So.)
Brown and Williams both got on the field as freshmen last season with Williams even getting 45 tackles with two interceptions. The loss of Josh Johnson and Max Charlot likely mean even more time for Williams. Brown had six tackles in 10 games as more of a safety, so he could see more time in the defensive backfield spelling Taylor Richards. Both of these guys are extremely promising talents and will be handy for depth purposes.