As the weather gets chilly in West Lafayette we can all stay warm on the bonfire of redshirts burned by Purdue freshmen this season. As you know, Purdue brought in a full class this year and it was the first top 25 class in more than 15 years. That meant several players were going to play, but all of the injuries has only added to the pile of redshirts burned. Now that we’re three quarters of the way through the season most of the redshirt decisions have been made. Even if Purdue makes a bowl game, any true freshman that has not played this season can play and still redshirt. Only a handful have to watch their participation in games.
With that in mind, here is how everything breaks down for our 25 (!) true freshmen on the roster.
Redshirt Already Burned (can be used in a future year if needed)
George Karlaftis – DE – Karlaftis was never going to redshirt and there is a good chance he would have been Purdue’s best defensive lineman last season if he wasn’t busy winning a state title at West Lafayette HS. He is third on the team in tackles with 41 and leads in tackles for loss with 12.5 and sacks with 6. He is only going to get better.
Brooks Cormier – P – I am a bit surprised he has split duties not only with Zac Collins, but with Danny Carrollo as well, but he has played in six games and punted 24 times for a 40.8 yard average.
Cam Allen – CB – Allen has been a top reserve in the secondary and has played in eight games. He has 21 tackles, two for loss, and has been credited with three pass breakups and three passes defensed. That will be huge for next season. We could also see him as an absolute, worst case scenario quarterback as he played QB in high school and accounted for 61 touchdowns rushing and passing as a senior. Yes, he might actually be the fourth string QB at the moment.
King Doerue – RB – The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week has rushed for 360 yards and has played in all nine games. He also leads the team in touchdowns with 6, four rushing and two receiving.
Milton Wright – WR – Wright is kind of the forgotten freshman receiver, but he had a solid game against Nebraska with four catches for 69 yards. He has played in eight games and has 11 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.
Jalen Graham – DB – Graham has been solid at safety. He has played in eight games and is sixth on the team in tackles with 30 and has 2.5 for loss. I’d like to see him do better in pass coverage, but he has come up to help against the run a lot.
David Bell – WR – Bell might be the Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten. He has helped pick up the slack since Rondale Moore went down and he has 51 receptions for 676 yards and 4 TDs. He also has rushed twice for 10 yards and the game-winning touchdown last Saturday. A 1,000 yard receiving season is not outside the realm of possibility. He is currently fourth in the Big Ten in receiving yardage, which is impressive because in two games this year (TCU and Nevada) he only had one reception.
Has played, but is out with an injury and has preserved redshirt.
TJ Sheffield – WR – Sheffield got into two games before injuring his leg and he has a pair of receptions for 12 yards. He also served as a kickoff returner briefly with two returns for 30 yards. He was, in theory, Rondale insurance until he himself went down.
Marvin Grant – S – The 4-star safety had two tackles in three games and was likely going to avoid the redshirt, but is now out for the season after having shoulder surgery on a torn labrum.
Has played in less than 4 games and can still redshirt
Da’Joun Hewitt – RB – Hewitt has played in two games officially and has 4 carries for nine yards. Assuming we can get anything out of Tario Fuller or Richie Worship in the final three games I would bet Hewitt does not play in all three and still redshirts. Hewitt can play in 2 more and still redshirt.
Khali Saunders – LB – Saunders has played in two games so far and has been credited with one tackle, but he is definitely a candidate to play in two of the remaining three games.
Jacob Wahlberg – LB – Wahlberg was listed on the participation chart against Nebraska for the first time this season, but did not record any stats. He can play in three more games.
Kyle Bilodeau – TE – The only game where I could find him listed on the participation chart was against Maryland, so he can play in the remaining three games and still redshirt. He has not accumulated any stats.
Upperclassmen that have previously not used redshirt, but still could
Lorenzo Neal – DT – Neal has not taken a snap and I am going to boldly predict he will not. Is that enough for him to go to the draft, or will he return for next season? Regardless, he does now have the option to return since he cannot play in more than four games.
Rondale Moore – WR – It seems extremely unlikely that Rondale would stay in West Lafayette through the 2022 season, but if he does not play in another game he can. The most likely scenario is that he has a big 2020 season and leaves early for the NFL. Really, the only thing it costs him is a shot at virtually every NCAA receiving record.
Jeff Marks – DT – The sophomore defensive lineman played extensively last season as a true freshman, but has only played in two games so far this year. He has two tackles and has fallen out of the rotation a bit.
Any other true freshman on the roster has not been listed in the participation charts Purdue has released for each game, so it can be assumed they will maintain their redshirt because the absolute most they can play in going forward is four games, and that assumes Purdue makes a bowl game.