As we reach single digits in this countdown today we have a couple of newcomers. Both are expected to contribute immediately, however.
Malik Kimbrough – Jr.
San Jacinto, CA (Southwestern Community College)
6’, 172 pounds
2016 Projection: Starter as kick/punt returner
Kimbrough is the latest scholarship addition to the roster. He didn’t even come on board until midway through fall camp, but he was brought in specifically to be used as a punt and kick returner. He is listed as a running back, but his return abilities are where we will use him.
Last season at Southwestern Community College he rushed for 294 yards and five touchdowns while catching a team high 26 passes for 237 yards and 2 TDs. As a freshman he rushed for 110 yards and a score, but had an impressive 70 receptions for 527 yards and two scores. As a punt returner he had 14 returns for 240 yards and two scores.
It has been a long time since Purdue has had strictly a return man, but the return game has not been good of late since Raheem Mostert left. I think the last time Purdue returned a punt for a touchdown at all was Aaron Valentin in 2009.
Lorenzo Neal – Fr.
Houston, TX (St. Thomas HS)
6’2”, 345 pounds
2016 Projection: Contributor at Defensive Tackle
Defensive tackles generally need to be big dudes, and Purdue has one in Neal. His dad was the long-time fullback for the San Diego chargers who paved the way for LaDanian Tomlinson for a while. With 16 years of NFL experience his son was bound to play football, and we benefited.
Neal comes in as a player who could play immediately this year. He was an all-state selection in Texas last season with 33 tackles and four sacks. His previous season he had 35 tackles, five sacks, and (amazingly) two interceptions. He was even his district’s MVP last season.
There is a lot of promise in a player like Neal. He could be a huge contributor going forward.