Here's a look at some of Purdue's Class of 2012
Holland was a safety in high school and was cut from a similar cloth as one of my Purdue favorites, Jason Werner. Like Werner, the Purdue coaches thought he'd be a good LB in college. Unlike Werner, he had to start his Freshman season at the position. He was underweight and like most Freshman, didn't quite know what was going on all the time. The result was he'd get picked on by opposing coaches. But, he kept at it doing everything he could to stop opponents.
Four seasons later, he's started nearly 40 games and is an anchor on defense who regularly leads the team in tackles. There are people who say the kid can't play the game...I'd say those people don't know football. He's been surrounded by players that are out of position more than they're not...and been a part of a scheme that has put him and his teammates on a collision course with failure time and again...but injuries and hurt pride never slowed him down. In fact, many games during his career he didn't come out for a down...and he played some special teams. He's been durable, hard-working and solid...Plus, along with Lichtenberg, he's hilarious off the field.
An added note about him- he grew up an ND fan as his parents are both grads, but early in his career he had completely divorced himself from that evil habit. I for one am glad Joe Holland is a Boilermaker.
Siller has had probably the second most interesting career at Purdue. He started at QB, was moved to RB, then back to QB then to WR then to QB (before being injured) then back to WR. He also played safety (at least in practice) at one time or another.
He was thrust into action when Curtis Painter went down to injury and started at quarterback for a couple games. He could have greatly-benefited from a bit more time to learn, BUT his athleticism, vision and attitude made him a pretty good quarterback in spite of an odd throwing motion and inexperience. He helped Purdue beat Michigan on the back of the hook and lateral play. His future as Purdue's QB looked pretty bright.
But, after losing a season due to breaking academic rules, Siller got back in the good graces of Hope's staff and was back on the team.
Most-recently, he's been a solid contributor at WR...one of his best games came last Saturday. He didn't have the biggest stats, but blocked great, caught some tough balls that kept drives going and played some wildcat (as he has been for chunks of this season). I'll bet we'll see Siller throw a pass (or two) more before his career is over.
Wiggs was an immediate starter when he got on campus contributing in both kicking and punting (situational). Wiggy struggled with accuracy at times early in his career, but has been able to crush the ball from day one. His first successful field goal as a Boilers was a 53 yarder v. aOSU which tied a Purdue record...that he later broke. First, he broke his own mark by hitting a 55 yard field goal, again versus Ohio State a season later, then crushed one the following season of 59 yards v. Toledo. He's hit over 71% of his field goals while in the gold and black, ranking him first all-time for the program.
He's an internet sensation because of his succession of FGs during the spring game last year...they began in the 50s and finally ended with a 67 yarder. Hope wanted to give him the opportunity to kick a 70 yarder this season to set the all-time NCAA mark, which we haven't yet seen an attempt close to that.
Off the field, Wiggs is another of the big personalities on the team and his interviews typically show his fun-loving nature. His handle on Twitter is WiggyBank...I assume referencing that he is money when he kicks.
Was thrust into action early in his career and started a lot of games as a Freshman and Sophomore. As Hope made speed more of a focus at LB, Carlino's time on defense dwindled...but that didn't stop him from contributing. Carlino is a mainstay on kick and punt coverage and is the embodiment of the phrase, "Playing like his hair is on fire."
He's a wildman...looks the part...plays the part...revels in acting like a crazy person on the field. He's not the greatest athlete on the team, but playing with reckless abandon makes him a favorite of mine.
A big special teams guy and former walkon who has made a difference both on the field and off of it. He's a huge clown and his camp videos are some of my favorite things to watch in the late summer.
When not acting the fool, Lichtenberg is a good student and an all-around good guy. He does a lot of work for local charities and has taken mission trips to Haiti and elsewhere.
A true fullback who saw the field from the very beginning of his career. This season, he's carried the ball quite a bit more than previous seasons as a change up to Bolden and Shavers. While a wrecking ball when blocking, he also has nifty moves...he plays with a chip on his shoulder which I like to see.
He played quite a bit as an underclassman...and has continued that throughout his career with the exception only coming from injury. Evans is a hard-hitting guy who's made some of the most-memorable plays for the Purdue defense in the last four seasons. Most recently, his interception and 50+ yard return from the end zone v. Penn State helped keep Purdue in that contest.
Gooden has been a starter for much of his career. He's been hampered by multiple injuries that probably kept him from reaching his full potential. But, his biggest enemy might have been high expectations. Many thought he was the heir to the DE throne in the wake of Kerrigan's departure, but that hasn't been the case. He's been a solid player during his career.
Like Gooden, Gravesande isn't the best athlete on the team. But, his ability to play smart and play hard has helped him end his career very well. Coming into Purdue, I thought Gravesande might be able to make an impact a bit earlier, but it wasn't to be. Instead, he's been a sure-handed punt returner when no one else on the team seemed to be able or brave enough to stand back there in front of the firing squad. He runs crisp routes and is sure-handed...I think he should be a starter at WR, or at least be seeing more time on the field because of his consistency.
Started very early in his career at DT...and was a pretty good tackle. But, Hope wanted him on the other side of the ball due to need on the offensive line. It took him about a half season before he got comfortable on that side, but now is a solid lineman. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has just enough nastiness to make him fearsome.
Loved watching this kid play in the spring games...had a great one last Spring reminding me a lot of Dan Dierking during the contest.
Matti died prior to the season of drowning and has been honored all season by the team with 22 decals on the back of their helmets.
A walk-on turned starter, Link has become an important part of the Boiler defense. He's not the fastest guy, but he hits hard and gives everything he's got every down. The defensive scheme hasn't helped him much, nor has the lack of development of some of the younger safeties...but he's the type of player that just comes to the game and does what he's asked to do.
He's got great size, but his ability to change directions always hampered him a bit...in my opinion he might have been a pretty solid free safety.
He's a fellow blogger whose videos and posts provide some insight into being a walkon at Purdue, but more than that are flat-out funny. His videos also show the important role he plays on this team. Plus, he's a pretty good snapper and his importance on the field shouldn't be discounted.
Kelly is a giant who looks to be on a collision course with the NFL. When he arrived at Purdue he was tall, but very lean for a lineman. But (and I think we've heard this before), he was forced into action a bit earlier than planned. His Freshman year was a learning experience for him as he went against guys who could flat out manhandle him. That's not the case anymore as Kelly has become the most-consistent and reliable offensive lineman.
He's tall has long arms that can create space in pass blocking and hasn't lost his good footwork in spite of gaining a few pounds since he arrived on campus.
Also being honored on Saturday: