One of today's players is perhaps the best linebacker we have produced in a decade. He is only a sophomore, too. The other is a legacy still waiting to make a mark.
Ja'Whaun Bentley - So.
Glenarden, MD (DeMatha Catholic HS)
6'2", 260 pounds
2015 Projection: Starting middle linebacker
I cannot properly state how excited I am to have Bentley. The sophomore has only been a starter from day 1 at a position of grave need. He shifted to middle linebacker midseason when Sean Robinson went down and went on to be named a freshman All-American. With 76 tackles, three fumble recoveries, an interception, and generally excellent play for a freshman he is one of the most exciting players on the roster to watch.
It has been a long, long time since Purdue has had a linebacker this good, and he is only a sophomore! He was voted a team captain as a write-in candidate by his peers and is poised to lead a revitalized Purdue defense that was in desperate need for a player like him before he came. He is in line for a huge season in 2015.
Keith Byars II - So.
Boca Raton, FL (Milford Academy)
5'10", 204 pounds
2015 Projection: Reserve at Running back
Will Byars get a carry this season? A shoulder injury limited his impact in the lead-in to the season, but he has the pedigree to be a solid back. His dad was a star at Ohio State and played 13 years in the NFL as a pretty damn good player in his own right. The younger Byars was a three-star prospect that had modest numbers in high school, but he is still waiting for his first collegiate action.