It is finally here. The season kicks off tomorrow and it is one of great hope that maybe, against the odds, things will turn around. Unfortunately for one of today’s players, he can only watch.
D.J. Knox – Jr.
Fairburn, GA (Creekside HS)
5’7”, 206 pounds
2016 Projection: Likely redshirt
This was supposed to be a big follow up season for Knox. Unfortunately, a bad plant in the spring game meant a torn ACL. That means he is probably out all season due to the injury, as he still had a redshirt year available.
Last season saw Knox have a great beginning only to taper off in the end. After playing on on special teams as a true freshman in 2014 he was the surprise winner of the running back derby and was downright dominant in the season opener against Marshall. He finished with 102 yards and a TD on the ground with 6 receptions for 36 yards against the Herd. The next week against Indiana State he was also good with 91 yards rushing.
Knowing that this is something that was working, John Shoop went out of his way to avoid using him. Knox would only rush for another 215 yards total in the final 10 games as Shoop saw a strength in the 1-2 punch of Knox and Markell Jones and tried as hard as he could to avoid using it.
Brandon Roberts – So.
Naylor, GA (Lowndes HS)
5’11”, 198 pounds
2016 Projection: Defensive starter
The new 4-2-5 defenses are all the rage as teams try to stop the spread, and Roberts is the player stepping into that critical cornerback/linebacker hybrid role this year. After appearing in 11 games and starting three times last year Roberts now becomes one of the most important players on the defense. He will have to cover slot receivers and be ready against the run as Purdue at least is trying something different on defense.
Last season was a good freshman debut as he came out of his redshirt. He finished with 36 tackles and had a big interception with 17 yard return at Northwestern. Purdue is going to need a lot more out of him this year.