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6 Days to Purdue Football: Jalen Graham

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We have another long time contributor and defensive player.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive touchdowns are fun, but Purdue only seems to get one per season. Today’s player had the 2020 defensive score.

Jalen Graham - Jr.

Detroit, MI (Cass Tech HS)

6’3”, 220 pounds

Safety/Linebacker

2021 Projection: Starter

Graham has a large role in 2021. He will likely play the hybrid safety/outside linebacker position that is so critical in today’s defenses. That means he needs to be ready for both the run and the pass.

He is ready though. In 2019 as a true freshman he played in 11 games and started eight. He had 37 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and was huge in the win over Nebraska with 8 tackles, two for loss. Last season he started in five games and had 16 tackles, one for loss. His best day came int he win at Illinois, where he recovered a pair of fumbles (representing two of only seven turnovers forced by Purdue). On one of them he fell into the end zone for a touchdown as he recovered it (probably a return of about two feet judging by the replay).

I was curious to see how long Purdue has had the streak of one and only one defensive TD per season, and here is how it breaks down:

2020 - Jalen Graham (Fumble Recovery in end zone at Illinois)

2019 - Corey Trice (Interception Return vs. Maryland)

2018: Markus Bailey (Interception Return vs. Ohio State)

2017: Ja’Whaun Bentley (Interception Return vs. Minnesota)

2016: Gelen Robinson (Interception Return vs. Eastern Kentucky)

2015: Danny Ezechukwu (Fumble Return vs. Virginia Tech)

2014: Frankie Williams (Interception Return vs. Iowa)

2013: (No Defensive Touchdowns)

2012: Four defensive touchdowns (Landon Feichter, Ricardo Allen, and Josh Johnson each had pick-sixes, Brandon Taylor recovered a fumble in the end zone). Most recent season of multiple defensive touchdowns.

Graham’s touchdown was the first Purdue defensive touchdown on the road Since Ricardo Allen pick-sixed Michigan State in 2011.