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Purdue Football: Depth Chart?

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NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The season is soon upon us, and I for one, am excited. There are a few things that need to be cleared up before we can properly football again this fall, and one of those things is the depth chart. At this point, I feel like I have a pretty good idea on most of the positions, and can at least make a decent guess as to the rest. On paper, this should be Purdue’s most talented squad under Coach Hazell, so, let’s take a look at it on paper (or screen).

Aside - When are we going to start saying “on screen” this team looks awesome , or screen champions instead of paper champions…I’m starting a movement, anyone with me?

Offense:

Quarterback:

1. David Blough

2. Elijah Sindelar

3. Aaron Banks

Summary: This was always going to be Blough’s job unless he totally fell apart in fall camp. Having a player as talented as Sindelar as a backup is important because Blough likes to get outside the pocket and put his body on the line. I have Banks as the 3rd string quarterback, but the job probably goes to Freshman Jared Sparks if both Blough and Sindelar go down.

Running Back:

1. Markell Jones

2. David Yancey

3. Tario Fuller

Summary: Markell is the man in the Boiler backfield, and will take as many carries as the coaches are willing to give him. The back-up job will be by committee, depending on situation. I think if Jones goes down, Yancey gets first crack at the starting job, but that doesn’t mean he will get the most carries if Jones remains healthy. Look for Richie Worship and Brian Lankford-Johnson to both be integrated into the offense as complimentary pieces. I don’t think either gets the starting nod if Jones is injured, but both will factor into the game plan.

Wide Receiver:

Boundary:

1. DeAngelo Yancey

2. Anthony Mahoungou

Field:

1. Domonique Young

2. Greg Phillips

Slot:

1. Cameron Posey

2. Bilal Marshall

Summary: Yancey, Young, and Posey are the obvious starters, but it gets a little muddled after that. If Yancey goes down to injury, it’s possible that Young moves to his boundary spot and Phillips starts at the field spot. It’s also possible that a guy like Terrance Landers is too talented to keep off the field, regardless of how much the coaching staff wants to save him. You will also see some of Jarrett Burgeess, but he is more of a situational player than a guy that’s actually on the depth chart.

Tight End:

1. Cole Herdman

2. Brycen Hopkins

3. Jess Trussell

Summary: Herdman is about as established as it gets in this inexperienced group. He seems like the guy that will get the most run, but Hopkins and Trussell both might make appearances in the red zone due to their height and blocking ability.

Left Tackle:

1. Martesse Patterson

2. Cameron Cermin

Summary: This season might rest on Patterson’s ability to stay healthy and pass block. I’m not sure the coaches are fully confident that Cam Cermin is physically ready to play an entire game if need be, so if Patterson goes down, it’s possible that Jalen Neal moves over to this position. I think, however, that the coaches are keeping Cermin out of the right tackle conversation because they intend to play him at left tackle in spurts to give Patterson a breather.

Right Tackle:

1. Matt McCann

2. Jalen Neal

Summary: McCann is one of Purdue’s highest rated recruits as of late, and it looks like he is going to start as a redshirt freshman. The kid is a mauler, but his ability to pass protect is somewhat in question. Jalen Neal is a monster, but got a late start and came in a little out of shape from JuCo ball. It will be interesting to see if he pushes McCann as the season develops.

Left Guard:

1. Jason King

2. Micheal Mendez

Center:

1. Kirk Barron

2. Cameron Cermin

Right Guard:

1. Jordan Roos

2. Micheal Mendez

Summary: Purdue should be strong in the middle of the line. King and Roos are both multi-year starters. Barron was tabbed as the successor to Robert Kugler the moment he stepped onto campus, and he has fulfilled that expectation. He’s a freak in the weight room, and has good athleticism for the position. He is a physical upgrade over Kugler. Michael Mendez looks to be the preferred sub at both guard positions and Cameron Cermin is the only guy on the roster with any experience playing center other than Barron.

Defense:

Weak Side Defensive End:

1. Austin Larkin

2. Gelen Robinson

Summary: Both of these guys are going to play. Robinson may be the more talented physically, but he’s also been tagged with the label of “questionable motor”. I think you see Robinson a good bit on 3rd down. You don’t have to have a great motor if you’re a situational sub.

Defensive Tackle:

1. Jake Replogle

2. Lorenzo Neal

Summary: Replogle is the man, and will only be taken out of the game by force. Lorenzo Neal is a true freshman, but is also a mountain with legs. Look for Neal to be included in short yardage and goal line situations when Purdue shifts to a 5 man front.

Nose Guard:

1. Eddy Wilson

2. Keiwan Jones

Summary: Wilson and Jones are very different players, but both play nose tackle. Wilson is more of the classic big, strong guy who takes on the center and holds his ground. Jones will attempt to beat the center and get into the backfield. I will be interested to see if Jones comes on the field on obvious passing downs.

Left End:

1. Evan Panfil

2. Shayne Henley

Summary: Panfil is a player Purdue needs to step up and fulfill his potential. Randy Melvin will have earned his paycheck if he can get production out of the talented, but unfocused Panfil. Henley is a guy that gives 100% on the field, and is an adequate fill in for Panfil, but lacks the ability to be a true game changer.

Middle Linebacker:

1. Ja’Whaun Bentley

2. Danny Ezechukwu

Summary: This might be a shock for most people, but I don’t think Danny Ezechukwu starts if Purdue is primarily in the nickel. I do think, however, that Danny Ezechukwu will play a good bit, and will be the the WILL linebacker when Purdue is in the 4-3. Ja’Whaun Bentley may be Purdue’s best linebacker in a decade, but it will be nice to have a guy like Ezechukwu come in a let him rest up during the game in order to avoid the traditional 4th quarter collapse.

Strong Side Linebacker:

1. Markus Bailey

2. Jimmy Herman

Summary: Bailey is Purdue’s best coverage linebacker, and therefore, will probably start in Purdue’s nickel defense. He will be in charge of locking up the tight end, and should have the speed and athleticism to handle the job. Jimmy Herman is probably Purdue’s second best coverage linebacker, and will play a good bit if he can stay healthy. I think you see Purdue rotate in at least 4 linebackers during the game.

Boundary Corner:

1. Da’Wan Hunte

2. Tim Cason

Field Corner:

1. Myles Norwood

2. Kamal Hardy

Summary: Hunte has the boundary corner locked up. Surprisingly, I think Norwood might get the nod at the field corner because he is more athletic than Cason and Hardy. That being said, seeing Cason or Hardy start would not surprise me at all. It will be interesting to see if Purdue swaps boundary and field corners depending on match ups, because the diminutive Hunte is going to have to hold up against some big receivers on the boundary.

Nickelback:

1. Brandon Roberts

2 Tim Cason

Summary: Brandon Roberts has made this position his own. He is a solid combination of corner and safety, with good cover and tackling skills. I honestly have no idea who is behind him on the depth chart, but Cason would be my best guess, because he is also a corner/safety hybrid.

Strong Safety:

1. Leroy Clark

2. C.J. Parker

Summary: Clark is the obvious starter at strong safety, with JuCo Parker providing a physical backup. Basically, Clark is going to be in the game unless he is injured. It would be interesting to see if they go with Parker or move Robert Gregory if Clark has to miss any substantial amount of time.

Free Safety:

1. Navon Mosley

2. Robert Gregory

Summary: I watched a good bit of Mosley’s film from his high school days, and he has the best ball skills at the safety position. The kid has a knack for getting to where the ball is and then catching it, which will be a welcome addition to the Boilermaker secondary. Robert Gregory will see plenty of playing time, and I expect to see him against run heavy teams because of his size and hitting ability. Together, Gregory and Mosely give Purdue a solid situational tandem at the safety position.