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Lorenzo Neal to Return for Final Season

Purdue gets a major defensive contributor back for 2020.

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

After three players entered the transfer portal this week Purdue got news of a fourth player it had been waiting on, and it is some very, very good news:

Lorenzo Neal is a player of significant impact for Purdue. Before this season he had some very high NFL Draft prospects, with some saying he could go in the first round of the Draft. Obviously a player of that caliber brings significant talent, but his experience is critical too on a thin defensive line. Unfortunately, after tearing his ACL against Indiana in November 2018 he was unable to come back this year. His return was teased all season, but he never played a down.

Now Neal gets an additional nine months to rehab and prepare for the 2020 season, and his return would be gigantic. He has 63 tackles, 11.5 for loss, and 4 sacks in his career as primarily a run stuffing nose tackle. He has also forced four fumbles, recovered one, and blocked a kick. Had he been able to play this year he would have been Purdue’s best defensive lineman and possibly best defender overall. His loss was significant, but with Anthony Watts returning and George Karlaftis on the edge with Derrick Barnes Purdue has a pretty stour front four now. What was once a weakness up front is now a strength.