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April 17, 2009
Ten to watch
Saturday, Purdue will conclude spring practice with its annual spring game-turned-scrimmage.
The scored situational scrimmage between the offense and defense will begin at 1 p.m. Admission is free.
Below are 10 players, beyond the obvious, who might be most worth watching as the Boilermakers close their April practice slate in Ross-Ade Stadium.
The defensive back-turned-receiver is looking to end his college career on the field, rather than as a reserve. He could get that chance in 2009 in a wide receiver corps that'll be starting virtually from scratch. He and fellow defensive import Tommie Thomas are X-factors in the rebuilding of one of Purdue's most important positions.
A redshirt freshman, TerBush has already moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart at quarterback, following Justin Siller's dismissal from school. He was not a highly rated recruit by any means, but coaches have spoken highly of him since his first day on campus. Considering he may now be one twisted ankle or sore shoulder away from playing, he's now a very important player. This will be fans' first look at him.
With Jaycen Taylor sidelined and heralded freshman Al-Terek McBurse still waiting to even dress for his first practice, Bolden's had an opportunity this spring to serve notice that he should not be overlooked. The sophomore's taken advantage this spring, it sounds like. He'll get plenty of work Saturday as the offense's No. 1 running back.
Physically and technically still kind of raw, the redshirt freshman defensive tackle's regarded as having the talent to be very, very good. He'll display those talents with the first-team defense Saturday, as more experienced players Nick Mondek and Kris Cooke have been injured.
Like the man he'll be snapping to - fellow Evansville native Joey Elliott - Zwilling's waited a long time for his opportunity, as depth at his positions, position switches and the occasional annoying injury have kept him from becoming an every-down player. Maybe until now. Zwilling takes over at center.
We haven't gotten many chances through the years to see what the linebacker's all about when healthy. Now, he seems to be, and should be a key contributor for Purdue's defense. That sound you hear is the Boilermaker coaches knocking on wood.
Antwon Higgs and Dwayne Beckford
The two freshman linebackers are very promising, we're told, and have already been worked in with what you might call the "varsity" defense, both even seeing occasional work with the starters. They should see plenty of P.T. Saturday. Both are anticipated 2009 contributors.
The theory goes that junior college players are generally much better in their second seasons. Purdue's certainly hoping that's the case, as Valentin's one of its few experienced receivers and probably its foremost big-play threat in the passing game. The Boilermakers need a big year from him.
Purdue's turning over its critical left offensive tackle position to a true sophomore who still needs to get bigger and stronger. But no one seems terribly worried about it, as Kelly's immediate future is seen as bright. After playing in the final five games last season as a reserve, Kelly was a starter this whole spring.
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