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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Purdue spring wrap

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Purdue

2010 overall record: 4-8

2010 conference record: 2-6 (T-9th)

Returning starters

Offense: 8; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Rob Henry, RB Ralph Bolden, WR Antavian Edison, WR Justin Siller, LT Dennis Kelly, DT Kawann Short, CB Ricardo Allen, LB Dwayne Beckford, S Logan Link, K Carson Wiggs

Key losses

DE Ryan Kerrigan, LB Jason Werner, TE Kyle Adams, RB Dan Dierking, WR Cortez Smith

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Rob Henry* (547 yards)

Passing: Rob Henry* (996 yards)

Receiving: Cortez Smith (434 yards)

Tackles: Logan Link* (91)

Sacks: Ryan Kerrigan (12.5)

Interceptions: Ricardo Allen* (3)

Spring answers

1. Henry makes strides: Rob Henry began the spring as Purdue's No. 1 quarterback, and he only helped himself throughout the session. Coach Danny Hope called Henry the team's most improved player during the offseason, and the team agreed by voting the sophomore as a co-captain for the 2011 season. The subplot is the impending return of Robert Marve, the Miami transfer who began last season as the starter before a torn ACL. There's a lot invested in Marve, but Henry seems like the team's choice.

2. Edison lights it up: Purdue got a bad break when the NCAA inexplicably denied receiver Keith Smith a sixth year of eligibility. The team needed other wideouts to emerge this spring, and Antavian Edison answered the bell. The junior speedster stood out in several scrimmages, and Purdue would be wise to get the ball in his hands as much as possible this fall. Edison and Justin Siller give Purdue a nice 1-2 punch in the passing game.

3. Shavers steps forward: Ralph Bolden will return from a torn ACL this season, but Purdue should have more options in the backfield. Junior college transfer Akeem Shavers turned in a solid spring, earning the team's top newcomer award on the offensive side. The 5-11, 200-pound Shavers runs with power and should be able to spell Bolden or potentially take on a larger role. Purdue's coaches want to use multiple backs in the offense, and Shavers certainly will be in the mix.

Fall questions

1. Marve, Bolden return from injuries: Torn ACL's wiped out Purdue's projected starting offensive backfield in 2011, but Marve and Bolden both will be back in the mix this summer. Both players have had multiple ACL tears, so it will be interesting to see how they respond on the field. Marve needs a strong preseason to leapfrog Henry at quarterback. Bolden, meanwhile, is viewed as the team's top option at running back and could have practiced full-go this spring but was limited as a precaution.

2. Replacing Superman: Purdue loses only two defensive starters, but when one is Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kerrigan, it's a concern. The team lacks depth at defensive end and really needs veteran Gerald Gooden to get healthy and produce consistently this fall. Robert Maci and Ryan Russell took the first-team reps this spring and had their moments, as Russell earned the defense's top newcomer award. Still, this certainly will be a position to watch going forward.

3. Tight end: Other than defensive end, this is the other spot where Purdue loses a lot because of graduation. Kyle Adams and Jeff Lindsay both depart, and the coaches are looking for others to step in. Gabe Holmes exits the spring as a potential No. 1 option, although junior college transfer Sterling Carter also is in the mix. If Purdue can solidify this spot, it could have a pretty potent offense this fall.