If consistency and improvement along the offensive line are the most important parts to a football team then the 2015 version of Purdue could surprise some people. In Darrell Hazell's first season, despite having four seniors up front, the offensive line was a complete disaster. Purdue rushed for more yards than only Washington State nationally, and the Cougars pass so much they make Joe Tiller's early teams look like they are running the Wishbone. Quarterbacks Danny Etling and Rob Henry were sacked a total of 36 times. Etling had to run for his life so much as a true freshman it clearly hampered his development, as seen last year.
The 2014 line was better. Purdue improved from 805 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns to 1,886 yards and 17 scores. Etling and Appleby were only sacked a combined 24 times too. It allowed the offense to improve from "Oh my God the horror" to mediocre. At times the offense was even downright dangerous, as shown during the three game stretch of Illinois-Michigan State-Minnesota.
With all five starters returning, many of whom have been starting for two seasons now, logic would state that the offensive line is the strength of the team.
LT - David Hedelin - Sr. - 7 starts
LG - Jason King - Jr. - 17 starts
C - Robert Kugler - Sr. - 31 starts
RG - Jordan Roos - Jr. - 18 starts
RT - Cameron Cermin - Jr. - 6 starts
This is a very solid group that has plenty of experience and has played together for a long time. King, Roos, and Cermin all came to Purdue in the same class under Danny hope and have blossomed into solid players. Hedelin is the rare 4-star recruit that has actually panned out. The JuCo transfer learned a lot on the fly last season and should be even better. Finally, you have Kugler as the rock in the middle. Kugler is entering his fourth year as the starter and he is a possible all-Big Ten selection as well as a legitimate NFL prospect.
Perhaps the best thing I have read about this group is that they are playing with a mean streak and an edge of nastiness. They have been pushed around for years and are finally ready to push back. Coach Jim Bridge has been molding them for some time and it is time for those efforts to bear fruit.
J.J. Prince - Jr. - 11 starts
Bearooz Yacoobi - Fr. (RS)
Martesse Patterson - Fr. (RS)
Corey Clements - Sr.
Kirk Barron - Fr. (RS)
Many of these guys can move around a bit, but it is good to see three redshirt freshmen here that should all get a few snaps as the season goes forward. Purdue will only need to replace two starters next year, but developing three freshmen will be key for 2016 and beyond.
Off all these, Prince has a lot of experience and he can play guard or tackle in a pinch. He should be the first guy off the bench and will likely play a lot to spell some guys. Clements is simply gigantic at 6'8" 420 and even if he plays a few snaps or is used as a goal line player it is going to take a little extra time just to get around him.
Among the freshmen Patterson is already pushing Roos to start at right guard. Patterson has about 40 pounds more on Roos and from everything I have seen he will likely play a healthy amount. Yacoobi is still developing, but is listed as the backup to Hedelin. Barron was able to hang on to his redshirt even as the top backup to Kugler last season and he is pretty much the heir apparent at center.
Dakota Jelenik - Fr. (RS)
Matt McCann - Fr.
Michael Mendez - Fr.
Eric Swingler - Fr. (RS)
Peyton Truitt - Fr.
Joey Warburg - Jr.
First off, it looks as if sophomore Jason Tretter has left the program. He is not on the official roster either at GBI or the Purdue website. That leaves this group as a couple of walk-ons, three true freshmen, and Joey Warburg, who was the 5th guy in the recruiting class that included King, Cermin, Roos, and Prince. If anything, Warburg provides depth and leadership.
Jelenik and Swingler are walk-ons that are not expected to play. McCann and Truitt are almost certain to redshirt, while Mendez got here in the spring and impressed enough that he might play. He would give the Boilers 11 linemen, which is an impressive amount of depth compared to how thin we have been at the position under Hazell. Mendez also could redshirt simply because there are 10 good guys in front of him.