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40 Days to Purdue Football: Zander Horvath

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Seeing a big 40 line up in the backfield will always remind us of Mike Alstott.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Nevada David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

There is something about a hulking running back wearing the No. 40 jersey that will remind us of the legendary Mike Alstott.

Zander Horvath - Jr.

Mishawaka, IN (Marian HS)

6’3”, 230 pounds

Running Back

2020 Projection: Contributor at Running Back

A lot of running backs are smaller guys who are either quick or use their low center of gravity to act as a bowling ball. Look at King Dorue at 5’10” and 210 pounds. DJ Knox was only 5’7” and 210 pounds and he is still running past inept Ohio State defenders.

Then there are guys like Horvath. 6’3” is practically gigantic for a running back. The Alstott comparison is somewhat apt because he is 2 inches taller, but about 15 pounds more trim. Seeing a big 40 lineup in the backfield takes us back 25 years before he even touches the ball.

So far Horvath has done well for a walk-on that has earned playing time and a scholarship. As a redshirt freshman in 2018 he earned playing time as the No. 3 back, rushing nine times for 42 yards and scoring a late touchdown in the blowout of Illinois. He also was versatile out of the backfield, catching four passes for 38 yards.

Last season with the injury to Tario Fuller Horvath moved into the starter’s role early. He ended up making four starts, including the opener at Nevada. He finished as Purdue’s second leading rusher with 377 yards and a pair of touchdowns while catching 17 passes for another 142 yards and a touchdown. His best game came in the season finale against Indiana when he ran wild for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns while catching four passes for 24 yards.

Horvath will be a contributor if and when this season ever starts. He got better and better as the season went on last year and showed against Indiana he can make plays when called upon.