Although Dwayne Beckford's not been dismissed from the Boilermaker football team - he's suspended indefinitely - the linebacker's future at Purdue seems murky at best.
Beckford's latest infraction came late Monday, when he was suspended following an arrest on two charges of possession of paraphernalia and possession of a synthetic. He was in the Tippecanoe County Jail as of early Tuesday, after being picked up on a no-bond warrant stemming from a citation a week previous.
At Coach Danny Hope's teleconference Tuesday, the senior middle 'backer was not listed on Purdue's latest roster.
"In all fairness to Dwayne, we want to make sure we allow the legal system to do what it has to do," Hope said four days before Purdue's opener vs. Eastern Kentucky. "Obviously, his future as a Boilermaker is very questionable because my marching orders to him was to avoid any compromising situations or being around any compromising situations. There's lot of information we have to get a handle."
Beckford, who was suspended Purdue's bowl game and spring practices, has a history of offenses, with four arrests since June, 2011. In mid-July, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts, including operating while intoxicated from a Jan. 18 arrest, and was sentenced to 30 days Tippecanoe County Community Corrections, an alternative program to incarceration.
Purdue now will move on without its top returning tackler from 2011. In his stead, the Boilermakers will turn to a trio of unproven players in the middle of a largely veteran defense. Joe Gilliam might have the inside track to the starting job, although two others - senior Antwon Higgs and sophomore Sean Robinson - were listed as co-starters Tuesday on Purdue's depth chart.
"We still have good players who compete for that spot," he said, "and we anticipate all three of those guys playing on Saturday and making a difference in the game."
Gilliam is said to have made a move late in camp, playing behind Will Lucas at weak-side linebacker but also seeing snaps in the middle. In Purdue's new defensive system, both positions are considered inside, with only Robert Maci, at strong-side, classified as outside.
But Gilliam, who was a highly regarded recruit from Indianapolis' Southside three years ago, could be the next up.
"He is probably our fourth-best linebacker right now," Hope said of the 6-foot-1, 227-pounder, presumably including Beckford with Lucas and Maci. "He has really played well throughout the course of camp.
"There's not much of a learning curve from Joe Gilliam going from one spot to another. He's been playing inside throughout the course of the spring at the Mike and Will position and he'll do a fine job. I really like his progress and development. He's an aggressive guy who plays better when he's mad."
Whether it's Gilliam or someone else in the middle, the most unlikely candidate in the near term is Beckford. His second arrest on paraphernalia- he pleaded guilty to a first in November, 2011 - could bring a felony charge, according to state statute.
And he has other legal problems, as well, including a failure to appear in court on Monday stemming from a separate drug-related arrest in early January.
Tuesday, Hope said he wouldn't change his approach when dealing with players, but he said he'll communicate his rules if issues arise.
"We could have a place, for example, that might not be the best place for our team to patronize," he said. "If that's the case, then I could institute a law to make that place off-limits.
"If there is a sensitive point in time that I think people need to think before they Tweet something, then I'll tell them to cool off a little bit. But I'm not going to change who I am or why I got into coaching. I got into coaching for two reasons: No. 1, I just couldn't live without football, and No. 2, I like working with young people.
"... Prayers are with Dwayne and I hope things work out for him, and I believe that they will. I hope that soon he'll get his diploma and start paying taxes."
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