A senior linebacker for the Purdue football team doesn’t want to describe his career as “crazy”.
Will Lucas has high hopes for a positive finish to a career that has been far from a smooth ride.
Lucas has played in every game since his arrival to West Lafayette in 2010. He started only two games as a freshman before moving to 11 starts as a sophomore. Things became interesting when Tim Tibesar, Purdue’s defensive coordinator in 2012, changed how the linebacker core operated and reduced Lucas’ starts to seven.
Lucas said that Tibesar rotated four linebackers constantly last season, which allowed each of them to rest in games.
He said that the experience he’s gained is important to his future.
“I had a long career here,” Lucas said. “I played every year and gained a lot of experience. I got better every year. I look to continue to improve. I’ve got one more season here and I hope it’s my best one.”
On the field, Lucas’ production stayed strong each season despite having less starts in 2012. In 2011, he was third on the team with 82 total tackles, 46 solo tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He was second on Purdue’s roster in 2012 with 66 total tackles, 54 solo tackles and 6.5 stops for a loss.
Junior safety Landon Feichter said that he’s been impressed with the career Lucas has had and has big expectations for the veteran in 2013.
“He’s a good player,” Feichter said. “He’s been a starter for us in the past and is stepping into the (middle linebacker) role this year. He’s doing a really good job when his number is called and is stepping up to the plate.”
Lucas has spent time in fall camp at the middle linebacker spot due to an injury to junior Joe Gilliam’s left pinkie finger.
Head coach Darrell Hazell said that they’ll figure out when Gilliam returns whether Lucas’ move to the middle is permanent. He wouldn’t rule out Lucas going back to the outside, saying he was playing the middle out of necessity.
“I’ve only been playing middle linebacker (since Aug. 8),” Lucas said. “I surprised myself by picking it up as fast as I did. You’re inside out every play at middle linebacker. You set the defense and you’re the vocal person, so it makes you more of a leader on the field. That’s the responsibility of it. I like it so far.”