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July 11, 2012All-Americans, professional draft picks, a bevy of first-team All-Big Ten selections and some conference champions highlight our annual list of Purdue's athletes of the year.
Next up in Gold & Black's series counting down our top 10 athletes of 2011-12 is defensive tackle Kawann Short.
Bio: Junior determined to become one of nation's best defensive tackles
Summary: It's almost as if 17 tackles for a loss, including 6.5 sacks, don't mean anything.
Even if those numbers led Purdue in both categories, by wide margins.
Even if those numbers were produced despite a consistent presence of double teams.
Even if those numbers, broken down, meant some dominant single-game performances: a career-high 11 tackles against Rice in Week 2, a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss against Illinois in Week 7, a career-high three sacks against Ohio State in Week 10.
Even if those numbers led to a first-team All-Big Ten selection.
But all Kawann Short could think about after his solid 2011 season was what he's yet to do: Consistently play hard.
And it was largely the determination to improve in that area that spurred his return for a senior season.
Because, with an intent focus on getting in better shape and elevating his conditioning level, Short thinks he can be better than he ever has been in his final season.
"I feel like I still have a lot to prove," he said this spring. "I think I'm good, but there's way more steps to be better."
Analysis: Short will be playing for his third defensive line coach and in a new defense this fall, so just what his role is remains to be seen.
Could he align differently up front? Last season, he was moved from inside to outside on occasion as well as playing different techniques. Perhaps that's still the case in the new scheme, though perhaps he'll just be anchored at one spot straight-on the center in the middle, too.
Wherever Short lines up, there's hardly reason to think his senior season will be a drop-off from 2011.
By changing his diet and continuing to work hard in the weight room, building up that already rock-solid lower half, Short should be primed to move into elite status in 2012.
No. 10: Ricardo Allen
No. 9: Jennifer Rabot
No. 8: Brittany Rayburn
No. 7: Joe Haase
No. 6: Leah Eber
No. 5: Laura Gonzalez-Escallon
No. 4: Ariel Turner
No. 3: Kawann Short
No. 2: Thursday
No. 1: Friday
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