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9 Days to Purdue Football: Lorenzo Neal & Mershawn Rice

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The defensive tackle and wide receiver should both have big years.

Boston College v Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We’re in to single digits! That usually means we’re in to the stars of the team, and that is definitely true for today’s player.

Lorenzo Neal - Sr.

Houston, TX (Saint Thomas HS)

6’3”, 315 pounds

Defensive Tackle

2019 Projection: Starter at Defensive Tackle

Neal is coming off of an ACL tear and it may be a while before we see him on the field. He has not practiced yet and he has already been ruled out for the opener at Nevada. When he does return to the field, however, Purdue might be getting its best defender back. Neal has been fantastic in his role as a nose tackle, plugging up the middle of the defense. He finished last year with 30 tackles, three for loss, and a sack. In 2017 he had 22 tackles, 5.5 loss, and two sacks. He even had a great debut as a true freshman with 11 tackles, three for loss, and a sack. In his career he has also forced four fumbles, recovered one, and blocked a kick.

The sky is the limit for Neal. There has been some talk of him being a first round NFL Draft selection. His dad, of course, was a 16 year veteran as a fullback in the NFL, so having his son follow him to the league would be huge. He is one of the best defensive linemen int he Big Ten if not the country, so we’re eagerly awaiting his return.

Mershawn Rice - Fr.

Reynoldsburg, OH (Reynoldsburg HS)

6’2”, 205 pounds

Wide Receiver

2019 Projection: Contributor at Wide Receiver

Rice is one of the highly touted receivers that comes to Purdue as a true freshman this year looking to play immediately. He played both offense and defense at Reynoldsburg HS in Ohio and his team was 10-2 last season. He finished the year with 22 receptions for 462 yards as a big play offensive threat.

Rice projects more as an outside receiver, where he could potentially start this year. He is a good blocker and has the size to dominate smaller corners. His athleticism also makes him a downfield threat, too. In the fully armed and operational Brohmfense he is a very nice toy to have.