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Pre-Spring Practice Position Breakdown: Tight End

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We have several tight ends on the roster, but only one of them has actually played. Does this sound familiar?

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue hired a tight end whisperer in Terry Malone last offseason. The tight ends were better than non-existent last season, and some talent red-shirted. Purdue could be on their way to reviving a position group that was once a vital cog in the Boilermaker attack...or maybe not, as always, it's hard to tell when you're dealing with Purdue football.

Tight End:

Purdue came into the 2015 season with 5 tight ends on the roster. 2 redshirted, one collected splinters on the bench, and the other two didn't catch many passes, but when they did catch a pass, they tended to be in the end zone, so that's a positive at least.

Cole Herdman: RS SO

Stop me if you've heard (or herd) this one before. Cole Herdman will be the only tight end on the Boilermaker roster with any game experience going into next season. This will be the second year in a row that Purdue only returns one player to have experienced the exhilaration of playing in front of empty bleachers and opposing fans. At the start of last season, Purdue didn't know if they had anyone on the roster other than former walk-on Jordan Jurasevich that could play the tight end position, but Cole came in a played well.

Rec

Yds

Avg

Td

18

139

7.7

2

Long gone are the days of inaugural Mackey Award (awarded to the best T.E. in the nation) winner Tim Stratton, and dynamic field stretching tight end Dustin Keller, but all-in-all Cole did a decent job as a redshirt freshman. He's not going to scare anyone running the seam route down the field, but he does a decent job making himself available and catching passes that are winged his ways. He'll come into the 2016 season as a steady option at tight end, and might even see a few more passes thrown his way, depending on who Purdue signs as an offensive coordinator.

Matt Burke: JR

Who is Matt Burke you ask? I'm not really sure, but he is on the roster and has a scholarship. It appears that he is 6'6, 240 pound tight end from West Palm Beach, Florida, but other than that I have no idea if he can play football. I know I've mentioned this before, but Purdue's inability to get players on the field to actually see if they can, you know, play, is stunningly inept. I mean, once we were knocked out of Bowl contention, it might have been nice to see if this Burke kid can play, but that would require a little foresight. Burke did excel in crocheting coasters this season, which is a useful post football skill.

Brycen Hopkins: RS FR

I thought Brycen Hopkins would play this year. Yes, he played at a small high school, and yes, he is raw in terms of skill, but the 6'5, 235 Hopkins brings more athleticism to the position than anyone on the roster. The fact that we didn't flex him out and have him run fades in the red zone is frustrating, because Hopkins elite skill is going up and getting the ball. While I don't understand why Hopkins wasn't utilized in the 2015 season, I have high hopes for him in the 2016 season. This probably means that he will have 7 catches for 44 yards on the season, but I'm doing my best to escape cynicism.

Jess Trussell: RS FR

Purdue pulled Trussell out of Texas, and I always assumed he would need a year or two to develop. In my dream world, the 6'6 Trussell puts on a bunch of weight a turns into a dynamic left tackle. Again, that would take some creativity and foresight, and as I've mentioned, that is in short supply on the Boilermaker sidelines. Trussell is a big athletic kid that will probably languish on the bench for at least another season, but he could still be a contributor down the line.

My Prediction:

Herdman and Hopkins see the majority of the work next season.

Best Case Scenario:

Hopkins, the athletic former basketball player, turns into a Jimmy Graham clone.

Worst Case Scenario:

Purdue continues to ignore the tight end position.

Recruiting Implications:

Purdue recently offered Ryan Carriere, but they are going to have to pry him away from UNC....Charlotte.