We're inside 5 days until kickoff and all is still very positive. Coach Hope keeps singing the praises of a ton of players. So far, we've heard Hope praise all of the running backs in contention for playing time at one time or another...the entire defensive backfield has been a shining spot as well...and finally, Hope likes a lot out of what he's seeing from the mostly-unknown defensive line during practice.
A few weeks ago, I predicted Kevin Pamphile might be a special player before he leaves Purdue. But honestly, I was thinking it'd be a season or two before he'd see the field. Pamphile is an interesting case- Up to his Junior year in high school, his stat line didn't include tackles and sacks, but 8.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Kevin was a big, strong, lunch bucket basketball player with not a ton of touch, according to what I've read. It was almost like he was in the wrong place.
Well he was- not in the wrong position, but the wrong sport. Kevin picked up playing football his Senior year and received a schollie offer from Hope...which surprised about everybody. Rivals gave this unknown player 2-stars...probably just because he received the offer from Purdue...and a 4.9 rating (the lowest they give out). He was an unknown in which Hope saw promise.
Now, 15 pounds heavier and a bit-more football wise, Hope now thinks it could be tough to keep Pamphile off of the field in the coming weeks. Pretty amazing ride, in my opinion.
So, if you're a Purdue player and you haven't received any of the superfluous praise out of Hope's mouth, should you be worried? Let's take a look at some guys that have gotten little-to-no lip service by Purdue's first year head coach.
-True Freshman, Najee Tyler hasn't received a ton of ink other than Hope liked the way the ball came out of his hand.
-Waynelle Gravesande & Eric Williams haven't been gushed over in the media by his head coach.
-And we haven't heard a whole lot about Carson Wiggs out of camp.
Now- do you think that means these guys are doomed to the Hope doghouse? I don't...I'm pretty sure Wiggs is going to be important to Purdue this year...and Gravesande will probably see the field each game, especially in 5-wide sets. I think Williams and Tyler might be a year away from the conversation, but that's OK...they'll still have four seasons of eligibility left at that point.
The fact that I can't really think of any other player that was hanging around the two-deeps, or a noteworthy recruit that hasn't gotten any "love" from the head coach is amazing in itself. Clearly Hope's goal is to build these guys up...kinda like a guy did 12 years ago after his team had been repeatedly torn-down in the media by the previous head coach. Should ring a bell.
History, at least parts of it, repeats itself pretty often, and one thing we know in sports is a large percentage of the game is mental. If the positivity displayed by Hope to the media can translate to a bunch of confident players who believe in their coach's system and eachother, maybe we can see history repeat itself again...I'm excited about the prospect of fun being back in Ross-Ade. And what's more fun than having your expectations exceeded week-in, week-out?
(Indy Racing Tidbit)
Scott Dixon had his version of groundhog day occur once-again in Chicago. He was edged out by a Marlbory machine once again...this time it was Briscoe. The Chicagoland race once-again did not disappoint on Saturday night. For those of you who watched, check out the similarity of last-year's finish with last Saturday's: