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August 29, 2006
Preseason Review: The receivers
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With Saturday's season opener against Indiana State approaching, GoldandBlack.com takes a position-by-position look back at preseason practice. Here are the receivers.
Purdue's better off at receiver coming out of the preseason than it was going in, which says an awful lot.
Catalyzing the possible rise from good to great has been the dramatic emergence of sophomore wide receiver Greg Orton who has often been dominant in practice, pretty consistently, at that.
The 6-foot-4, 191-pound Orton might be Purdue's most physical receiver. That coupled with the aggressiveness with which he uses his body to go after balls in the air and his ability to leap over smaller defenders adds a welcome dimension to a group that would seem to have a little bit of everything, perhaps most notably the speed and explosiveness of junior Dorien Bryant.
One of the Big Ten's best offensive players, Bryant did nothing to tarnish his stock during training camp. He was very consistent catching the ball, per usual, whether it was passes over the middle, laterally or down the field.
Bryant may become even more dangerous in Purdue's offense this season, with the implementation of a more screen-oriented passing attack. With his speed, elusiveness and smallish stature, Bryant would seem tailor-made for such a scheme, with still factoring significantly into Purdue's running game, carrying the ball out of the slot.
Senior Kyle Ingraham certainly isn't the highlight-producer some of his colleagues may be, but he's the prototypical possession receiver who should catch most everything that comes his way, within reason.
Ingraham may not have been as consistent in practice as he's been in the past, but considering he hasn't played since last season (i.e. no spring ball), was getting back in playing shape, and still dealing with some ankle soreness, there's no reason to think he won't revert back to ultra-reliable form.
Beyond the starting trio, the Boilermakers are well-stocked.
Sophomore Selwyn Lymon isn't ready to be a star yet, but he will play quite a bit and should improve as time goes by, after sitting out last season as a non-qualifier. Physically, Lymon is a beast - 6-5, 210 - and he's been known to "play his size" around the line of scrimmage and when going up to snare passes.
Lymon's addition underscores one of the nicest attributes of Purdue's receiving corps: Size.
In Orton, Lymon and obviously Ingraham, the Boilermakers have three wide receivers who are virtually impossible for smaller defensive backs to match up with ideally, especially considering Orton and Lymon's speed and athleticism and Ingraham's intangibles. Having three of them like this at the same time is a luxury Tiller and Co. couldn't have even dreamed about in their early years in West Lafayette.
Had it not been for Orton's coming-out party, most-improved receiver accolades might have gone to easily overlooked junior Jake Standeford.
Standeford has gotten on the field in the past due to his smarts and ability to block. But in training camp, he caught the ball very well, making more than his share of difficult grabs on downfield long balls.
Though he's surrounded by players with greater physical ability, you'll see Standeford on the field in 2006.
As a fifth-year senior Andre Chattams is coming off a season in which he contributed for the first time. But with added competition around him, Chattams might be hard-pressed to repeat his 17-catch season. However, he will get on the field because of his ability to play slot receiver. He's Bryant's backup in the slot, but Purdue will likely use lots of double-slot formations, in which case Chattams will generally get the call. But running backs will often line up in the slot, as well.
Should Purdue need another slot receiver, or should he show marked progress early in the season on the practice field, it's conceivable that sophomore Desmond Tardy could see some playing time. He still has a ways to go, by all accounts, but training camp seemed to be a step forward for him.
Purdue would like to play eight wide receivers regularly, but rarely over the years has that occurred.
In this case, Orton, Bryant, Ingraham, Lymon, Standeford and Chattams occupy seven places, theoretically. Who else might play?
Barring injury, it's difficult at this point in time to envision any other receivers seeing major action, considering what's in front of them on the depth chart.
Of the two junior college players who entered the mix, slot man Roberto McBean would appear headed for a redshirt year and Joe Whitest appears destined for a year on the scout team, with the hopes of cracking the outside-receiver rotation next year or the year after, should he remain at receiver.
At tight end, Purdue is obviously dying to see junior Dustin Keller fulfill his awesome potential, but it remains unknown whether he will. Blessed with the physical talent to be great, Keller, it is thought, now must establish consistency all across the board, stay healthy and be disciplined and assignment-savvy on the field.
Backup Jerry Wasikowski, at least on the practice field, appears as steady as they come, a reliable blocker and a consistent route-runner and receiver.
Is freshman Kyle Adams ready to play? Probably not. He could certainly use a redshirt year, like any tight end. But he'll almost certainly have to be on the field this year, since reserves Garret Bushong (injury) and Alec Huber (ineligibility) aren't options.
It might not seem like Purdue would desperately need a third tight end, but its offense includes a great deal of two-tight end stuff, necessitating more than two.
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