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August 16, 2012
Edison evolving; Day 13 report
Listen: Coach Danny Hope after practice
Over his career, Antavian Edison has worked at all three of Purdue's receiver spots, learning the positions and their assignments in case he needed to fill in on the outside.
But it's at slot receiver where Edison excels.
And it's at that spot, as Purdue's "A" receiver, Edison has been able to focus on this camp. Coach Danny Hope thinks that emphasis has helped Edison to start to "master" the position.
"Antavian is really important to us from an offensive standpoint because he's an experienced receiver and really sure-handed," Hope said. "He's open more. He's catching the ball well. He's in really good shape. Obviously, we utilize him some in the backfield as a runner, so he's a big playmaker for us and one of our better offensive players.
"I like what I'm seeing from him. I think he'll have his best year yet."
Edison has been gathering the rest of the receivers during camp to watch film on non-two-a-day sessions, and while the youngsters are focusing in on learning how to study defenses and learn coverages, Edison already has the film out on Eastern Kentucky.
He doesn't only watch the players who potentially will line up against him, either. He'll focus in on the defensive linemen, who can reveal what the call may be.
"On certain routes, we have to adjust our route from whatever coverage it is and the coverage might change in the middle of the play, so we have to get a better feel for that," Edison said.
"I pretty much know the playbook. I've been around for quite some time now. I know what to do on every position, but just working on slot, it helped me be more creative to get open. Get around the defense, get around the linebacker or safeties."
With that increased knowledge and extra studying, Edison could be primed for a big season.
As a sophomore, he caught 32 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he snagged 44 balls for 584 yards and had three TD catches. He rushed for two touchdowns last season, too, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
Though he says he's "just as important as anyone else" in the offense, when pressed, he admits that he feels like he can be a playmaker whether he gets the ball on a reception or a handoff.
And he's happy he gets one more chance to show it.
Edison was arrested this summer back home in Florida when cops found a gun and ammunition in the car he was driving. His uncle, a convicted felon, was in the car with him.
Edison immediately took to Twitter to say he's never owned a gun, and, ultimately, the charges were dropped.
"I had just got off the airplane and (it was) being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "I gave my uncle a ride to my grandmother's house and (it was) just an unfortunate event. But I've never been a bad kid.
"Never did I worry at all during that whole arrest thing because I knew I didn't do anything wrong, and I know I have God on my side always."
Edison hopes, too, that fans don't view him differently since the incident but recognizes that "everyone has their opinion."
"People who know me, on this football team, my family, people back at home, that's all that matters," he said. "I'm still at Purdue and I'm still working toward my degree. I'm still playing football. That's a blessing."
With only three days remaining in camp, Purdue still doesn't have a clear-cut No. 2.
Senior Nnamdi Ezenwa and redshirt freshman Armstead Williams have been making progress, Hope said.
"I don't know that one of them is significantly further ahead than the other," Hope said. "I think they've both done some really good things. There's competition there. Those two guys together can certainly fill that one void. If we had to roll those guys in there at that spot some, I would be comfortable with that right now.
"Maybe over a period of time, someone will separate themselves out of the two."
Ezenwa missed spring ball with a hand injury, but Hope likes Ezenwa's speed and athleticism at the position.
"He should be able to get it done and looks like he's going to be able to get it done," Hope said.
Light chatted with Hope afterward and posed for a couple pictures with members of the Ross-Ade Brigade, who were allowed to watch practice.
"It's truly a big deal any time Matt comes around," Hope said. "He brings energy every time he comes to practice or any time he comes into a room, he lights it up in a lot of ways. So for him to be back here and talk to our team (Thursday), it was a big deal for our football team.
"For him to speak to our team (Friday) at the banquet, I think it's huge for our team. He'll deliver a great message, one that has a lot of meaning. Any time he speaks, he always speaks from the heart. So I know he'll say something that will find a way to impact our team's season somehow."
Normondo Harris has been out most of camp with a sprained knee, and he was wearing a brace on Thursday. Hope said Harris is deciding whether to wear the brace in practice.
"We need him out here," Hope said.
Hope mentioned Danny Anthrop has looked good in camp the last couple of days. Anthrop has been working at slot receiver - the same position as Edison and Mostert - and could get some carries from that position, too.
Four NFL scouts were talking to defensive backs coach Greg Burns while the team stretched.
With thunderstorms throughout the day, Purdue moved both of its practices inside. Hope isn't opposed to practicing in the rain, though, because it allows the team to work on handling a wet football. When it's not raining, Hope said the team will sometimes bring in a bucket of water to soak the balls to still get work.
Of the 10 players who lined up with the No. 1 punt protection unit early in practice, six were defensive backs. Ricardo Allen, E.J. Johnson, Taylor Richards, Landon Feichter, Max Charlot and Antoine Lewis were joined by snapper Jesse Schmitt and the three players who formed the shield, Antwon Higgs, Cody Davis and Eric Mebane.
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