Today is a double-shock Friday with two players being featured, one on the offense and one on the defense. Both are expected to contribute this season.
Richie Worship - Fr. (RS)
Cleveland, OH (Valley Forge HS)
6'1", 245 pounds
2016 Projection: Contributor at running back
We saw a small preview of what Worship might do in the spring game. As the biggest running back on the team Terry Malone was willing to use him in creative ways to get the ball in his hands. Sometimes he was lined up as a bruising runner, a change of pace from Markell Jones. Other times he was a fullback. Still other times he was split wide in a Superback role.
Either way, it should be fun to see how he is used this fall. With the injury to D.J. Knox Purdue needs another running back to step up and it has some options. Worship at least offers a change of pace and the superback role is intriguing.
Danny Ezechukwu - Jr.
Lithonia, GA (Arabia Mountain HS)
6'2", 250 pounds
2016 Projection: Starter at linebacker
While I admire the ingenuity of what Malone is doing with Worship, I seriously question what Ross Els is doing with Ezechukwu. Purdue, for once, is deep at linebacker. The best defenses in the Big Ten always have good linebackers on the field. Instead of using a strength to shore up the worst run defense in the Big Ten with some of his best players Els is committed to playing a nickel defense almost full-time, with only two linebackers on the field. Even worse, he wants them to think pass first instead of run first.
That's going to make things... interesting. Ezechukwu could suffer as a result. Last year he was second on the team in tackles with 79. He also had a sack, an interception, and the only defensive touchdown of the year when he returned a fumble 90 yards for a score against Virginia Tech. Clearly, he is one of Purdue's best defenders, and Els may have him harmlessly on the bench a good portion of time.