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March 21, 2011

Lineman switches sides; Purdue back from break

Listen: Coach Danny Hope after practice

When sophomore defensive lineman Justin Kitchens returned from spring break with the rest of his Purdue teammates, he did so as an offensive player.

That was one of the revelations from Monday's practice, the Boilermakers' first after putting spring ball on hold for a week for break.

Kitchens, who played defensive tackle last season, but was seeing snaps too at defensive end - where Purdue is thin - this spring, traded in his black practice jersey for a white one, switching from No. 91 to 71.

He'll play offensive tackle.

"He's 280 pounds with really long arms and lots of eligibility left," Coach Danny Hope said of Kitchens. "So we're going to try him there the remainder of spring. I have a good feeling about him, after watching him today. He's a great athlete. He can be successful there."

Offensive coordinator Gary Nord said, "I've been begging for him (on offense) for two years now."

Kitchens is the second defensive lineman to move to the O-line this spring, joining classmate Eric McDaniel, who moved from defensive tackle to guard at the start of spring.

Hope was asked after practice if his team had energy Monday or looked like a bunch of guys who just came back from spring break.

"They looked like a bunch of guys who just came back from spring break in a lot of ways," he laughed, "but we got a lot of good work done. ... When they came back they weren't in great shape, so we had to get out there and knock the rust off them some."

Purdue used one of its three NCAA-mandated non-tackling practices Monday to get the players' legs back under them again.

The Boilermakers will be in full gear during each of its remaining practices, getting back to scrimmaging on Wednesday.

Hope was pleased to announce his team suffered "no spring break injuries."

Nord said freshman running back Reggie Pegram is seeing a significant amount of practice time at fullback.

"That's really valuable to us," Nord said, "because you have a guy who can play running back and fullback, so you can change your personnel groupings without giving your hand away."

First-team offensive guard Ken Plue missed practice due to an academic conflict.

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