Just two weeks from today I will be in Ross-Ade for the season opener. Even after as bad as last year was, I cannot resist the excitement of the start of a new season. Today we have two more players, one on each side of the ball, that will try to build that excitement.
Bilal Marshall - So. (RS)
Miami, FL (Dade Christian HS)
6'2", 196 pounds
2014 Projection: reserve at wide receiver
Bilal Marshall is a man without a position. He came to Purdue in 2012 as the No. 18 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, but he also came at a time when Danny Hope was dreaming of a 7-QB offense. In Marshall's recruiting class alone he had Robert Gregory, Aloyis Gray, and Austin Appleby as quarterbacks along with preferred walk-on Erich Berzinskas. Of those five, only Appleby is still at Purdue in the same position.
Marshall was the first to throw a pass of those five though. On a trick play vs. Notre Dame last season he threw an incomplete pass to notch his only statistic in seven games of playing time in 2013. So far he is buried on the depth chart at receiver, but has at least been on the field as a redshirt freshman. That could mean some playing time this year.
Ra'Zahn Howard - So.
Asbury Park, NJ (Asbury Park HS)
6'3", 323 pounds
2014 Projection: Starter at defensive tackle
Howard has been severely limited this fall with an injury to his leg, but is expected to be full-strength by the time the season starts. In Purdue's hybrid 3-4/4-3 look Howard is likely going to be the nose tackle that eats up space in the middle.
Last season Howard already had an impact as a true freshman. He played in six games and had four tackles plus a sack and two pass break-ups. The sack came against Iowa and the pass break-ups both came against Michigan State. In high school he won a state championship in New Jersey before attending a prep school in Atlanta in 2012. During the state championship season he was New Jersey's Class B Defensive Player of the Year.