If you're looking for a true freshman to surprise and make an early statement, it might be today's player.
Brian Lankford-Johnson - Fr.
St. Paul, MN (Palm Bay HS in Florida)
6', 195 pounds
2016 Projection: Possible contributor at running back and on Special Teams
The injury to D.J. Knox in the spring game could be a blessing for Lankford-Johnson. He was mentioned by coach Hazell in the media remarks as one of the fastest players on the team. He reportedly already has the fastest 20-yard dash time of anyone on the team, which is a great way to make it to the field as a true freshman.
He even has the numbers to back it up. They are Markell Jones-esque, in fact. Last season he rushed for 1,814 yards and 22 touchdowns on only 168 carries for Palm Bay High. His team went 8-3 and qualified for the state playoffs, but lost in round 1. He also played basketball where he averaged a modest 7.6 points per game.
Lankford-Johnson was one of Purdue's last commitments, jumping on just before signing day:
The explosive back ran for 280 yards and four touchdowns against Viera High, which went on to play for the Class 7A state championship. Lankford-Johnson rushed for 226 yards and four scores against Melbourne and 211 with four scores against Rockledge.
Other big games included 192 yards and three touchdowns (plus a receiving touchdown) against Space Coast; 188 yards and two scores at Merritt Island and 176 yards with a touchdown at Titusville.
Blinding speed and big numbers? I think that is an "impossible to redshirt" combo.