Following a successful season in the fall, Purdue’s football team is grinding through the spring. The Boilermakers are facing some turnover on offense as former quarterback David Blough graduated along with running backs D.J. Knox and Markell Jones.
While the team tries to fill in the gaps from last season, some key offensive players will be returning to Ross-Ade Stadium, including junior Grant Hermanns.
Hermanns stands at 6 feet, 7 inches and weighs in at 290 pounds. His massive stature allows him to be a force on the line, frustrating defenses while also protecting the backfield. Hermanns’ experience makes him a natural leader for the line and the team, which was evident when he was helping freshman defensive end George Karlaftis III learn some tricks and new moves after practice.
A new face this fall will be redshirt freshman Jimmy McKenna, who has been seeing time with the first team this spring. The Avon, Ohio, native is showing steady improvement and earning the respect of his teammates.
“He’s really coming along,” Hermanns said.
McKenna was named Division II Second Team All-Ohio in high school where his team averaged 206.6 rushing yards per game.
Another young player catching the eyes of the team and coaches is redshirt freshman Eric Miller. While Miller boasts the same exact size as Hermanns, he did not see the field in 2018.
With almost a year under his belt, Miller will most likely see the field in 2019 and gain some experience on the line. Miller’s size, paired with Hermanns’, could prove to be a lethal weapon for the Boilers’ front line and rushing game, which will also see new faces in the fall.
A new player, of sorts, for the offensive line is former defensive lineman Alex Criddle. The senior played on the defensive line for two years before the offense called him over. He compiled six total tackles and 14 games played. His defensive physicality and mindset will most likely prove to be a valuable asset for the offense.
“He started a little slow,” Hermanns said. “He then got faster and faster and started making plays.”
The center position will be open this season and the competition is close. Junior Bryce Brown and sophomore Sam Garvin have been sharing reps with the first team during the offseason. With a new starting quarterback coming in the fall, a new center could be crucial to the success of the offense.
Head coach Jeff Brohm gave a lot of extra attention to the offensive line’s side of practice, coaching the group through drills and showing each player new techniques to use or work on. Brohm finished the day with a positive talk directed toward the line and the rest of the team.
“We have to continue making plays,” Brohm said. “Every single day we have to make plays and get better.”