May 22, 2006

Spring Prospectus: Defensive backs

Today, continues a series wrapping up spring football and looking ahead to the summer for each position on Purdue's football team. Today, we conclude with the secondary.

To say there's work to be done in the secondary this summer might be quite an understatement.

In short, there is plenty of playing time to be had throughout the defensive backfield for any player ready to capitalize on an opportunity come training camp.

Most importantly, third-year sophomore Torri Williams - the likely starter at strong safety, health permitting - will face a critical summer.

After sitting out all of last season after breaking his leg in the spring, then discovering a torn muscle in his foot, Williams was sidelined for most of the spring with a sore back.

He'll need to get healthy this summer obviously, and ideally healthy enough to be able to make some significant strides in the weight room. Due to his health, Williams is still more or less a true freshman from a strength and conditioning standpoint, and will need to progress in that area to become a stronger tackler and increase his ability to remain healthy.

Free safety at this point might appear to be a free-for-all. Juniors Brandon Blackmon - a junior college transfer - and Paul Long - a converted corner - were given opportunities at the position this spring, but both concluded the spring behind sophomore Brandon Whittington, a converted receiver who played some in 2005 out of sheer necessity, on the depth chart.

At the end of spring, Coach Joe Tiller hinted Whittington could move back to offense, perhaps illustrating the uncertainty that surrounds that position.

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