We're about seven weeks from the start of the season and soon we can begin breaking down the roster position-by-position. We've already had a look at eight of our opponents, but there is another major factor that hasn't been viewed: The redshirt freshmen.
Purdue has had to play any freshman that can contribute even in a small way of late out of necessity. There simply has not been the depth at many positions to allow a redshirt. That's why guys like Ja'Whaun Bentley, Gelen Robinson, Jake Replogle, and others played as true freshmen. There are a few, however, that have managed to sit and learn for the past year, and they could jump onto the scene in a big way in 2015.
David Blough - Quarterback - Obviously when a guy can become the starting quarterback coming out of his redshirt year it is a big deal. At minimum, Blough is expected to be the top backup after Danny Etling transferred to LSU. He looked really good in the spring, however, and Austin Appleby has not exactly cemented the starting role. Appleby is the lone quarterback with experience on the roster (unless you count a single pass thrown by Bilal Marshall as a receiver), so he is probably in the driver's seat right now. Blough learned a ton last season though. It would not surprise me if he is starting at some point this season.
Cole Herdman - Tight End - Herdman is going to play mostly because Purdue has no one else available. We are ridiculously thin at tight end after graduating the top three from last season, leaving former walk-on Jordan Jurasevich as the de facto starter. He has some good size at 6'4" 243 pounds, but can he be a threat in the offense? Can he block?
Martesse Patterson - Offensive Guard - Patterson is massive for a guard at 6'3"345 and hopefully he has some nastiness on an offensive line that needs it. He definitely has the size to play up front and with Jordan Roos and Jason King both as long-time starters, Patterson can get some valuable experience behind them in spot duty. Patterson was even the subject of an Indy Star feature about his redshirt season.
Brandon Roberts - Safety - Currently, Roberts is listed as the backup safety behind Leroy Clark. He could play a lot more, however, since both Taylor Richards and Landon Feichter are gone. The safety position, unfortunately, has a lot of inexperience and Purdue had better hope that the front seven is better. Too many tackles were made by Feichter because he was the only one left to do something.
Tim Cason - Safety - Cason is in the same boat as Roberts. He is a little bit bigger and might have been slightly more highly recruited, but he is in a position to start coming off of a redshirt year for the same reasons as Roberts.