Despite Purdue football having its best recruiting class in close to a decade, don’t expect too many freshman to see the field this fall.
Junior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, one of the rare players who got major playing time early, started 10 games as a true freshman. Gaston said it was tough making the jump right from high school into college football.
”It was a little hard, but it was also fun having to rise to the challenge,” Gaston said. “A lot of guys don’t come in and play right away, especially at the line positions, because it takes a lot to learn. Realistically, the extra year helps your body so much.”
Hope has said most of the offensive lineman are scheduled to redshirt, but if they “play well enough we might have to pull the redshirt off of them.”
Junior college players, unlike freshman, have tended to get playing time early under Hope, most notably running back Akeem Shavers. Hope has said that junior college offensive lineman Devin Smith “absolutely will play.”
One position a freshman will start is the kicker spot where Lafayette, Ind., native Sam McCartney and Paul Griggs are in a competition.
Special teams coach J.B. Gibboney said most of the kickoff and return units are filled with returning players.
”Fortunately, we have a bunch of guys coming back with us on kickoff returns so I don’t know, hopefully we don’t get so banged up that we have to use many freshmen there.”
The three freshman quarterbacks, Aloyis Grey, Bilal Marshall and Austin Appleby, are not expected to get any playing time. According to Hope, this has not stopped Appleby from being a leader among the freshman.
”They know (the playbook) somewhat well,” Hope said. “They think they know it well. However, if one guy would it know it well, it would be Austin Appleby because he is really a student of the game. I really admire him and some of the young quarterbacks.”
The group of young freshmen quarterbacks will spend late nights watching film often times until after midnight. Hope said he “really admired” the group for its dedication.
Freshman who redshirt have the ability to use their fourth playing season of eligibility during their fifth year on campus.