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Thank You, Football Seniors

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Saturday is the final game for 18 Purdue football seniors.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday marks the final time that 18 seniors will play in Ross-Ade Stadium. It has been a rough road for them, too. A handful redshirted in Danny Hope’s final season, so Gerad Parker makes the fourth coach they have players under because Patrick Higgins handled the bowl game. Speaking of bowl games, none of this crew will ever play in one. They will be the first senior class since the 1996 season that went without playing in a bowl game. This class has only won 9 games the last four years and only the 5th year guys, who redshirted in 2012, know what it is like to have the Old Oaken Bucket in West Lafayette.

We still love them, however, because they are Boilermakers. They are family with us because they all have or will soon have a degree from the same place we have a degree from. That makes them family for life.

Jimmy Herman – LB – Herman is on his way to his fourth straight Academic All-Big Ten selection, but his time on the field has been off and on. He has been a starter most of the time, but hamstring injuries and this year’s absurd 4-2-5 have limited his playing time more than it should. He still had his first career interception this season and has been a solid contributor all four years.

Leroy Clark – S – Clark has rarely missed a game in his career and has been a steady contributor in the secondary since 2013. Last season he led the team in tackles and this year he is second on the squad. His biggest play was a long interception return hat set up a touchdown at Wisconsin last season.

Evan Panfil – DE – After years of being a player with a ton of potential Panfil was finally breaking out this season, but injuries have limited his effectiveness. He is still leading the team with five sacks, the first player to get more than four sacks in a single season since Kawann Short.

Bilal Marshall – WR – It seems like Marshall has played all over the place, but after being on the fringe for three years he is having his best season by far in his last. He had 34 receptions for 424 yards and 3 scores and he has played a small amount of quarterback in the “Amtrak” package. A former HS quarterback, he has kept defenses honest by completing three passes.

Austin Logan – S – In 2013 it looked like Logan would be a multi-year starter. He played in 10 games and even had an interception against Nebraska. His playing dropped off severely after that, to the point he did not play at all in 2015. He has returned this year on special teams and some spot duty in the secondary. He has played in more games this season (six) than the previous two combined (three).

Domonique Young – WR – My heart breaks for Domo. Last year he was laid out with one of the most vicious hits I have ever seen against Bowling Green. The concussion affected him, but he was having a great season this year before he went to block on a long run against Illinois and shredded three ligaments in his knee. He caught 29 passes for 338 yards and a score before his injury. According to GBI, he is trying to get a doctor’s clearance to walk with the seniors at Saturday’s game.

Robert Gregory – S – Gregory could never find a position at Purdue. He came in as a dual-threat quarterback, but switched to running back. He never got a carry before switching again, this time to safety. He has since been a part-time starter and now mostly a reserve safety with the emergence of Navon Mosley.

DeAngelo Yancey – WR – Yancey will leave Purdue as one of its best receivers ever. He enters this week 19th in receptions with 129, 10th in yards with 2,111, and 7th in touchdowns with 17. He has also had eight 100 yard receiving games. He had a dropoff in 2014 after a solid debut in 2013, but this year he has been reliable with 718 yards receiving and 7 TDs.

Cameron Posey – WR – When Posey and Yancey played a lot in 2013 I was excited for the future. It looked like we would have a duo that would dominate the Big Ten. Then Yancey slid off and Posey tore his ACL in the spring of 2014. Posey was limited for two years because of that, but this year has been almost automatic in the slot on third down with 31 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns.

Jordan Roos – OG – Roos has simply been a rock at offensive guard for Purdue. He has been a four-year starter and has at least a semi-decent chance of getting drafted in April. Purdue’s line may have struggled at times, but not because of Roos. He is also a respected veteran and team leader.

Evan Pulliam – LB – A walk-on from Cathedral, Pulliam has contributed for three straight years as a special teams ace. That’s a great way to contribute for a walk-on.

Andy James Garcia – LB – Garcia has never been quite good enough to fully grab a starting linebacker spot, but he has been a solid backup that has always been ready to fill-in in a pinch. Last season he even had a career high 63 tackles. This season he hasn’t played a lot, again, because of the 4-2-5 that limits our most experienced position on the field.

Shayne Henley – DE – Henley was a JuCo transfer that was expected to provide an immediate boost as a pass rusher. Instead, he has been mostly a backup that has only played in five games this year after playing in all 12 last year.

Jake Replogle – DT – Replogle has had a rough year, as a concussion has severely limited his playing time. When he has played, he is perhaps the only defensive player Purdue has that you could qualify as “dominant”. It is no coincidence that Purdue’s bad defense has been even worse when he has been out. Replogle probably has the best chance of any player getting drafted in April.

Ryan DeBusk – DE – As far as I can tell, DeBusk is a fifth year senior walk-on that has never played a down, but that should change on Saturday (because will it really matter if he plays or not?). He has never notched a statistic, but being a five year walk-on is really impressive in terms of dedication.

Langston Newton – DT – Newton is a transfer from Kentucky that has played sparingly, but has had a few big moments. He had a big fumble recovery at Marshall last season. This year as Purdue’s depth up front has thinned he has gained more playing time, notching six tackles in four games.

Cameron Cermin – OT – Cermin has been a swiss-army knife offensive lineman in the last four years. He has battled through injuries, which have prevented him from ever nailing down a full-time starting job, but he has been a valuable reserve that Purdue will desperately miss next season. He can play almost any position on the line and started all 12 games at right tackle last year, but has mainly been a reserve this year.

Jason King – OG – King and Roos are basically inseparable as Purdue’s guards the last few seasons. They have both been reliable, steady performers on a team that has needed more guys just like them. Purdue has had a lot to worry about these last few years. King at guard has not been one of them.

Finally, I want to offer up a special thank you to the remaining coaches and especially Gerad Parker. This year has been rough. It was pretty clear that Hazell was holding a lot back and now depth issues are holding them back even more. They have still their jobs to the best of their ability. Parker, especially, has done an admirable job of getting this team prepared the last four weeks. The players clearly love him, he has been a breath of fresh air when addressing the media because he has a real personality, and he is getting the most out of this team right now.

You could never say that about Hazell. Ever.

Most, if not all, of the coaching staff will be elsewhere next season. Many will only be here for this year alone. It is my hope that Parker is retained in some fashion because he has done a great job in a difficult situation. We need more guys like him.