Purdue Football 2012
Players to Watch – Seniors
Written by Evan Williams
We’ve made to the senior class now in my “Players to Watch” series, and this group is filled with guys who will be instrumental to the Boilers success this season. As we get closer to the beginning of the college football season, Purdue fans all over should be getting excited for what should be a fun season on the gridiron which starts on September 3rd at Ross-Ade Stadium against Eastern Kentucky.
1. Kawann Short DT 6’3” 330 lbs. East Chicago, Indiana
This guy is a no-brainer as the top player to watch this season. The 6’3” 330 pound monster in the middle is perhaps the top interior defensive lineman in the conference and one of the best in the country. Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board for the 2013 draft has Short projected as a mid-first round selection and there is a good reason why. Short was a First Team All-Big Ten pick by the media and Second Team by the coaches in 2011 after recording 54 tackles, 17 for loss, 6.5 sacks, two pass break ups, two blocked kicks, one fumble recovery, and one forced fumble. This season, look for Short to have an even bigger impact on defense. Kawann combines super human strength with surprising quickness and athleticism for a guy his size to make him a disruptive force on the defense. He has no troubles getting into the backfield to destroy a quarterback or to be brick wall and stop the run at the line of scrimmage. It is safe to say that Short is set to have a big year and will be a front runner for the Big Ten Defensive Player and Defensive Lineman of the Year award. Kawann was also recently named to the watch list for the 2012 Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy, and Lott Trophy.
2. Caleb TerBush QB 6’5” 225 lbs. Metamora, Illinois
Caleb TerBush ended up in the starting role last season after Rob Henry tore his ACL in the preseason and Robert Marve’s recovery from an ACL injury was taking longer than expected. Just a year after being declared academically ineligible, TerBush stepped up and started every game for the Boilers in 2011. TerBush completed 171 of 277 passes for 1905 yards, 13 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Now in 2012, TerBush finds himself in the middle of a three-way competition for the starting job with Henry and Marve. Though he had some troubles early on, TerBush made some big strides as the season progressed last year. What I like about TerBush’s play is that brings size and arm strength to the position. I think that with a year of experience under his belt, we will get to see TerBush thrive in the offense and see him exhibit his arm strength. The competition is tough, but no matter what, Caleb will be utilized heavily this season in the Boilers’ game plan.
3. Robert Marve QB 6’1” 212 lbs. Tampa, Florida
It is unusual that a school would have two quarterbacks listed as “Players to Watch”, especially in the same class. Then again, not many schools have three quarterbacks on their roster that are capable of starting and succeeding in a major conference. Robert Marve was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and looks to finally show Boiler Nation what he is truly capable of. Fully recovered from the ACL injury that ended his season in 2010, Robert Marve returns for one more campaign as a Boiler. Marve played in 10 games last season completing 61 of 109 passes for 633 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. Rob also made one of the biggest plays of the year when he scored the game winning rushing touchdown in overtime to beat Ohio State. Along with Henry and TerBush, Marve is looking to win the starting role this year. This year, I really want to see Marve come out and be successful. After everything he has been through in his college career, he deserves it. Marve brings his strong arm and good running ability to the position and will find his way onto the field no matter who ends up taking the snaps for Purdue. It is going to be very interesting to see who wins the starting role coming out of camp this year.
4. Akeem Shavers RB 5’11” 203 lbs. Texarkana, Texas
Shavers came to the Boilers in 2011 as a junior college transfer that really surprised everyone. Akeem rushed for 519 yards with six touchdowns and made one receiving touchdown on the year. Now with uncertainty surrounding the return of Ralph Bolden from injury, Shavers is Purdue’s number one option out of the backfield. With a bigger role this season, Shavers could have a huge year. Akeem is a good blend of a physical back with speed and can run all over opposing defenses. His 149 rushing yard game in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl helped earn him the Marines Running Back Performance of the Year. Now in his second year with Purdue, I know Shavers will continue to thrive in the Boiler offense and be able rack up some big yards this year. Shavers can carry the workload by himself and will be heavily relied on this year. With some help from sophomore Akeem Hunt, Purdue’s running game should be towards the top of the conference.
5. Dwayne Beckford LB 6’1” 228 lbs. Irvington, New Jersey
This past year has been a rocky year for Dwayne Beckford to say the least. After legal troubles, the middle linebacker was suspended for the Pizza Bowl and was later dismissed from the university. Beckford has worked hard and has now returned to Purdue and will be eligible to play in the fall and it will be huge if Beckford is on the field. Beckford earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten after posting 91 tackles, seven for loss, three sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble in 2011. With the loss of Joe Holland from the linebacker core, Beckford’s return will be key for the Boilers’ defense. The second leading tackler on the team, Beckford is a beast that is all over the field. He can track down opposing backs and crush them, but can cover the receivers effectively as he had a pick, four break ups, and five deflections. I want to see Beckford back on the field this year and have another big year. He didn’t participate in spring practice, so I hope he can return to the same form as last year. Purdue is going to have a very tough defense this year, and Dwayne Beckford will be a big reason why.
6. Crosby Wright TE 6’3” 248 lbs. Carbondale, Illinois
After joining the team as a walk-on and not playing his first two years, Crosby Wright has come a long way. Last season, Wright appeared and started in every game at tight end and racked up 223 receiving yards with two touchdowns for the Boilers. The former walk-on earned a big honor this past spring as he was named a team captain for the 2012 season. Wright should have another very good year for the Boilers and continue to be a good combo tight end. Crosby is a good blocker and at the same time a real receiving weapon for Purdue’s offense. Wright and junior Gabe Holmes will give Purdue a pair of big receiving threats in the redzone. A multiple time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, his talent and leadership on the field will be big for the Boilers this season. With all of the experience that returns for Purdue, Wright and Purdue’s other receivers should thrive this year. I’m also a big fan of Crosby’s because like myself, he is a big St. Louis Cardinals fan.
That concludes my “Players to Watch” series for 2012. I hope that I’ve helped some of you get as excited as I am for Purdue football. You can count on me being right there in Ross-Ade Stadium on September 3rd ready to watch the beginning of an exciting and thrilling season of Purdue football. Boiler Up!