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August 3, 2012

Countdown to Camp: Keep an eye on ...

Leading up to Saturday's start of training camp, GoldandBlack.com will take an in-depth look at key areas of Purdue's football team.

Besides the position battles and individual potential breakout players, here are a couple things we're going to keep our eyes on during camp.

Running back depth
When asked about running back depth at Big Ten media days, Coach Danny Hope said, "I don't think we have near enough."

The position took a couple hits when Reggie Pegram and Doug Gentry opted not to return. That didn't leave much behind Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt - Ralph Bolden hasn't been cleared yet and likely won't be a factor until at least midseason, if he tries to play.

Fullback Brandon Cottom is coming off a knee injury, and Gavin Roberts, Derek Jackson and Kurt Freytag have combined to play in 14 career games with one carry.

Those are the only backs listed on the roster.

Perhaps more likely than an actual back emerging, Purdue will utilize its receivers and quarterbacks more in the running game.

But maybe Cottom will impress and move into a bigger role, assuming he's healthy. Coaches really like his potential.

The heat
Temperatures reached at least 90 degrees on 24 days in July, and August is expected to bring much of the same.

Opening day on Saturday is forecasted to be in the mid-90s.

Perhaps it'll help that it's been hot all summer, allowing players to get a bit accustomed. Of course, two-a-day practices could be more draining than summer conditioning, too.

One would assume the trainers will be prepared, keeping players hydrated.

Henry's role
Rob Henry always has stressed that he's a quarterback, and he wants to stay one.

But he enters camp as No. 3 on the depth chart behind Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve, and though he's said to have improved his passing, he doesn't have as good of an arm as either.

Henry could be valuable at other skill positions, though, and he could line up at receiver or running back as well as taking snaps. He'll likely be a "Wildcat" quarterback, taking advantage of his speed as one the team's fastest players and his athleticism.

It's likely Henry will be on the field in the same personnel grouping as either TerBush or Marve, allowing Purdue to disguise some of its packages.

End opposite Russell
There's a chance that Robert Maci is Purdue's starting defensive end opposite Ryan Russell, but we're more apt to assume Maci plays just as much at linebacker.

So who steps in and gets a lot of reps at end?

The Boilermakers are short on players with much game experience with returning players Jalani Phillips and Eric Mebane combining for nine games of action. Newcomers Greg Latta, who participated in spring ball, Ryan Watson and Kingsley Ike could get chances early in camp to show what they've got.

New kids on the block
About half of the freshmen class reported today - some already were on campus for summer school.

It'll be interesting to see who makes an impression in camp and competes for playing time.

Ben Knauf, Danny Anthrop, Watson, Ike, Latta, Carlos Carvajal, Anthony Brown and Andy Garcia, Thomas Meadows and Paul Griggs would seem likely choices.

Mikesky, Torwudzo and Macarthy
Purdue's projected starting receiving corps doesn't have much size. So it'll be interesting to see if any of the taller reserves - 6-foot-5 Dolapo Macarthy, 6-4 Shane Mikesky and 6-foot-4 Charles Torwudzo - can make enough strides to earn some game reps.

Macarthy is a converted quarterback, Mikesky is redshirt freshman and sophomore Torwudzo missed most of spring with a foot injury.

Or will Purdue decide there are better size options from its group of tight ends that includes 6-6 Gabe Holmes and 6-7 Carlos Carvajal?




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