August 16, 2012
Mostert becoming a 'go-to' guy
As a freshman, Raheem Mostert showed he can be a weapon with the ball in his hands.
Now, a year later, Purdue wants to find ways to get it there more often. The Boilermakers have designs to do so, not just with him resuming his role as one of the nation's top kick returners but on offense, as well.
"He can fit into the offense at any skill position," Coach Danny Hope said. "This time last year, he was a true freshman just trying to find his way back-and-forth from the dorm. Now, he knows a lot more about the program and the offense and is much more at ease.
"So we can utilize him as an offensive player in the backfield or on the perimeter as a receiver, and he's a go-to guy."
Mostert, a 5-foot-9, 180-pounder, was deadly with the ball in 2011. He had only 41 touches - and 25 of those came on kickoff returns - but scored three touchdowns. His average of 33.5 yards per return, which included a 99-yarder for a score, was tops in the nation, and he averaged 6.8 yards per rush.
A wide receiver who didn't have a pass thrown his way last season, Mostert says he's feeling much more comfortable now.
"For sure," he said. "Offensively, I feel like I have a good grasp on it and I'm just out there trying to give it my all."
Mostert's playing Purdue's A back position, backing up senior Antavian Edison. The spot allows him to take advantage of his versatility, either as a runner or in space as a wide receiver, by lining up in the slot or shifting into the backfield.
"He's one of the fastest guys and strongest guys we have," offensive coordinator Gary Nord said. "With his strength and with his speed, we're able to use him in a lot of different spots.
But Mostert has development to do as a wide receiver. He wants to become more disciplined in his route running, after spending most of his high school career just being able to outrun everyone.
"I'm trying to get those (routes) down to a science and get the better technique," he said. "
In high school, you just had to get open, but in college, it's a lot different; you have to learn the linebackers' positions, read the safeties, and those things."
While Mostert wants to make more of an offensive impact this season, he isn't willing to let special teams slip. Rules will make returns more difficult - the kickoffs will come from the 35-yard line now, rather than the 30, likely lessening the opportunities - but Mostert thinks Purdue can still have success.
The Boilermakers have a plan to try to counteract the rule. The off-return man, in many cases that could be Akeem Hunt for Purdue, is responsible for telling his teammate whether to bring the ball out of the end zone, based on what he sees from the opposing coverage unit. The goal is to get the ball out past the 25-yard line, because a touchback will now be set down there, rather than the 20.
"He'll let me know to stay in or bring it out," Mostert said of Hunt. "So it shouldn't have much affect on me. If I get it, I'll just be going, going, going.
"Hopefully we can make a play, that's what we're taught."
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