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28 Days to Purdue Football: Zac Collins & Ja’Quez Cross

The walk-on punter has had a rough two years.

Syndication: LafayetteIN Nikos Frazier | Journal & Courier, Lafayette Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Today’s player has been pressed into service as a walk-on the last two years, and we have gotten mixed results.

Zac Collins - Sr.

Louisville, IN (St. Xavier HS)

6’, 180 pounds


2021 Projection: Reserve

Collins is entering his fifth year in the program, but did not receive his first action until the 2019 season. The departure of long time punter Joe Schopper opened the door for him, and in 2019 he ended up splitting time with true freshman scholarship punter Brooks Cormier. He punted 33 times for an average of 39 yards, which is decent, but many Big Ten punter are averaging 42-44 yards, which is a subtle, but significant difference. He did drop 7 inside the 20 though.

Last year was more split duty, and he played in four of the six games. All of Purdue’s punters struggled though. He averaged just 36.5 yards on 10 attempts.

This year Jack Ansell is expected tot take over the job, but Collins could be valuable as a situational pooch punter to pins teams inside the 20.

The adjusted roster means we now have two #28s though:

Ja’Quez Cross - Fr.

Hampton, AR (Fordyce HS)

5’10”, 180 pounds

Running Back

2021 Projection: Reserve

Purdue has a very thin running back room, so the addition of Cross is big. Zander Horvath and King Doerue are an effective 1-2, but beyond that there are a lot of questions. Cross is only the third scholarship running back on the roster, while Dylan Downing is a transfer walk-on that played sparingly at UNLV.

That means Cross could see the field. He was a dual threat last year as he led his team to a 15-0 record and Arkansas state title. He had 872 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, plus 751 receiving yards on 35 catches with nine touchdowns. This is a man that can do things with the ball in his hands, and that could be extremely beneficial for a Purdue team in search of a consistent running game.