I feel bad saying this, but the most famous highlight we have of today’s player is on of him falling flat on his ass, but it worked out.
Chris Van Eekeren - Jr.
Chesterton, IN (Chesterton HS)
5’11”, 195 pounds
2022 Projection: Kickoff Specialist
On the surface, Van Eekeren has a simple job. He is the kickoff specialist. He does not have to kick field goals or extra points (though he can). He has to kick the ball as far as possible after Purdue scores and maybe make the occasional tackle if coverage breaks down. Every once in a while he will be called on to make an onside kick, but that is rare.
Except when you accidentally do it.
This was not the only time that Van Eekeren slipped on a kickoff at Wrigley, but it accidentally worked out for the best. At the time, Purdue only led 13-7 and it had to give the ball back to the Wildcats after they had scored on the final play of the first half. After recovering the accidental onside kick Purdue went down and scored to go up 20-7 and never looked back.
Heading into 2022 Van Eekeren will likely play the same role as the kickoff specialist. He had 18 touchbacks on 32 kickoffs last year, splitting time with fellow walk-on Ben Freehill, He can also serve as the backup kicker to Mitchell Fineran if needed.