There is veteran leadership, then there is just being the old guy on the team. Today’s player has taken probably the strangest path to the field of any Purdue player. By the time this coming season starts he’ll be 28 years old, meaning he could play against defenders 10 years younger than him.
Jarrett Burgess – Sr.
Miami, FL (Florida Christian HS)
6’2”, 218 pounds
2018 Projection: Contributor at wide receiver
Burgess didn’t even play high school football, so by the time he ended up at Purdue it had been more than a decade since he played competitive football. That’s what makes his contributions so astounding. He essentially showed up in 2015 and immediately was able to play major conference football.
He was originally a 6th round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners and spent 2008-12 playing in their organization as an outfielder and pitcher. He was never able to get above short season A ball, however. He batted .211 with 12 home runs and 73 RBI in five seasons. His pitching career was extremely short, lasting 3 2⁄3 innings over two appearances, but he gave up 10 runs on 10 hits.
So after a few years off he came to Purdue and walked onto the team in 2015 as a 25-year-old freshman. That season he didn’t catch a pass, but was used on three end-arounds and rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown. In 2016 he caught his first two passes, then last year he finished with 11 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. All of his work came in a three-game stretch highlighted by a 5 catch, 65 yard game at Northwestern where he caught his lone touchdown.
So what can we look for this year? Well, he is a big target on the outside that has some potential to replace Anthony Mahoungou. He can also be a contributor on special teams. He is just a natural athlete, really, and those are always good to have.