We knew a lot of freshmen were going to play this season, both true and redshirt. The focus was on the 2014 recruiting class. It was the first one composed entirely of Hazell recruits and one that was brave enough to come despite Purdue cratering into a 1-11 finish last year. The class was a smaller one at 18 players, but it had some high hopes. That means some were going to play right away.
And that is what we have seen. Some of these guys are making an immediate impact and will be the ones at the forefront of any turnaround under coach Hazell. Here is how the true freshmen are doing:
Kirk Barron - Center - The jury is out on whether Barron will play. He is listed as the backup center and was here early to go through spring practice, but so far Robert Kugler has taken all the snaps. I am guessing he plays at least a little given that he already earned a backup slot.
Ja'Whaun Bentley - Linebacker - So far Bentley has been the biggest contributor at a position of major need. For once, Purdue has a living, breathing Big Ten caliber linebacker. Bentley is already third on the team in tackles, has an interception with a lengthy return, and has played well against the pass on the edge. He is likely a true four-year starter.
David Blough - Quarterback - Hazell has said publically that Blough will redshirt if needed, but he is still the No. 3 QB. That means he is the Guy if Austin Appleby and Danny Etling both go down.
Tim Cason - Safety - Cason has at least found a position and next season it will be one of need at safety, but now he is likely redshirting.
Corey Clements - Offensive Guard - Clements is a JuCo transfer and has earned a backup spot at guard. He has even had a handful of snaps if I recall. He is simply massive at 6'8" 400 pounds, but endurance at that size is an issue. I think the coaching staff was hoping for a little more.
Will Colmery - Defensive End - I haven't heard a single thing about him, so he is very likely redshirting.
Trae Hart - Wide Receiver - The speedy receiver has yet to catch a pass, but he has a tackle on special teams and is playing a little. If you remember the recruiting updates from last year he lit up the Texas private school ranks last year.
David Hedelin - Offensive Tackle - The second of two JuCo transfers, Hedelin's three-game suspension is finally over. Expect him to debut this weekend vs. Southern Illinois and he could easily be starting by next week against Iowa. We don't often get 4-star JuCo transfers, so Hedelin will play.
Cole Herdman - Tight End - Purdue has had three tight ends catch passes so far, but all three are seniors. That means we need someone to develop for next year. Fortunately, the emergence of walk-on Jordan Jurasevich has eased this concern.
Juan Jenkins - Defensive Back - Jenkins never made it to West Lafayette, as he was an academic casualty before camp even started.
Keiwan Jones - Defensive Tackle - Jones is likely headed to a redshirt with several quality upperclassmen blocking his playing time.
D.J. Knox - Running Back - Knox has not gotten a carry yet, but really impressed in fall camp. That led to playing time on Special teams, where he has played in all three games and has two tackles. Expect him to get a couple of carries sometime before the end of the year.
Austin McGehee - Punter - McGehee also never made it to campus, opting instead to head back to Arkansas and shift to Arkansas State. This happened just before camp started, leaving Purdue without its projected starting punter.
Martesse Patterson - Offensive Line - With a few older players relegated to backup roles Patterson is very likely redshirting.
Gregory Phillips - Wide Receiver - Phillips was another impressive receiver in fall camp that earned a spot in the regular rotation. He already has two catches for 34 yards.
Brandon Roberts - Defensive Back - This is another case of upperclassmen blocking his way, so he is likely redshirting.
Gelen Robinson - Defensive End - The other highly prized recruit on the defense hasn't had as much of an impact as Bentley, but he has played in all three games and got his first career sack against Notre Dame.
Bearooz Yacoobi - Offensive Line - He is much like Patterson in that he did well in the fall camp, but is likely redshirting. He could battle to start next season though.
Total players: 18
Total lost: 2
Total playing: 8
Total likely redshirting: 8